One of our clandestine operatives — code named “OO” — informed us of some proposed legislation in Oklahoma. It’s discussed at the Christian Post website, which describes itself as “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website.” Their article is Bible Class Bill is Attempt to Let Public Schools Teach the Bible is True, Church-State Separation Advocacy Group Claims, and there’s a comments section at the end. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Americans United for Separation of Church and State argued that an Oklahoma bill that would protect school districts with Bible courses from legal action attempts to place a “loophole” in the law that would let public schools teach that the Bible is true.
What’s the bill, and who is sponsoring it? It’s Senate Bill 48, introduced by Senator Loveless. Here’s his page at the legislature’s website: Senator Kyle Loveless, which says that he is the Chief Operating Officer, Loveless Orthopedic Appliance and Custom Footwear and CEO and owner of Phoenix Consulting, LLC. He’s a Republican who has been in the state Senate since 2012. Here’s the text of the bill, which says, with our bold font:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:
SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 11-101.3 of Title 70, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows: A school district and its employees and agents shall incur no liability as a result of providing an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible.
SECTION 2. This act shall become effective July 1, 2015.
SECTION 3. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason where of this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.
That “emergency” provision sounds crazy, but it’s what they always do in Oklahoma when they want a law to become effective immediately.
The legislature doesn’t officially convene until 02 February, so the Loveless bill has been pre-filed. The lawmakers will be in session until their scheduled adjournment date of 29 May.
Let’s get back to the Christian Post:
In an interview with local media, Loveless explained that his bill came in response to Americans United’s legal efforts against the Hobby Lobby president’s proposed course. “[Many students] were extremely disappointed in having the class cancelled,” said Loveless to the Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise.
“I don’t see anything wrong [with a provision] that gives local school districts the ability to study the historical aspects of the Bible. That’s my reasoning for the bill.” Loveless added that his proposal is “not a forced class and this would not be a ‘Sunday School’ type course. We are not endorsing one religion over the other.”
What was the course proposed by the Hobby Lobby president? We’re told:
[The] Mustang School District of Oklahoma … had approved a Bible elective course championed by Hobby Lobby Inc. President Steve Green. The School District eventually dropped the course because of concerns expressed by Americans United over its purported sectarian content.
They quote Sarah Jones of Americans United who said:
The class didn’t get pulled simply because it was about the Bible; it got pulled because it taught students that the Bible is true, and that’s a sermon, not a public school lesson.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the Loveless bill. If its purpose is to allow courses like the one the Hobby Lobby guy wanted, it’ll have trouble. However, the way it’s worded, to allow “an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible,” it might escape a court challenge. We shall see.
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