We recently wrote Idaho Creationism: New Bill for 2016. There have been some confusing developments since then.
A website we’ve never visited before, Idaho Education News, which describes itself as “an independent, on-line source for comprehensive news, information, commentary and data about K-12 education in Idaho,” has this headline: Bible-in-schools bill will get a rewrite. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A bill designed to clarify the role of the Bible in public schools is headed to the Senate floor — for some rewrite. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted unanimously to send Senate Bill 1342 to the floor for amendments. And the committee discussion offered a glimpse into how the bill might be reworked.
That sounds like the bill we wrote about earlier, but it has a different number. We compared the text of both, and this new one, SB 1342, is the same, except for one new sentence added at the end:
This section shall not be construed to permit religious or doctrinal instruction.
Okay, back to Idaho Education News. They say:
For one thing, senators said they wanted to delete references to using the Bible to teach astronomy, biology and geology. They also said they wanted to rework the bill to address not only the Bible, but other religious texts. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, said she was amenable to both changes.
Nuxoll sponsored the bill we wrote about earlier, which was also about using the bible to teach those subjects. Did the bill’s number change? We went to the legislature’s information page for Senate Bill 1321, the one we wrote about earlier. It was introduced on 12 February, and there’s no clue as to what’s happened with it. So we went to the legislature’s page for Senate Bill 1342. It was introduced on 17 February. So they’re different bills. Back to the news story:
As currently written, SB 1342 would allow the use of the Bible as a reference work, “to further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, United States and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topics of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant.”
Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, suggested striking the sciences from this list — as a safeguard against using the Bible to teach creationism. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against teaching creationism in public schools.
It’s good to see that someone in the legislature has some good sense. Let’s read on:
The possible amendments won over Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum. For much of Friday’s hearing, Stennett posed pointed questions to the bill’s supporters — reminding supporters that teachers are already allowed to use the Bible as a reference work.
Supporters agreed — to a point. But they repeatedly said SB 1342 would provide teachers with clear direction on the use of the Bible. “There is this vague, even fear, of it being used in the classroom,” said Steve Crane, a minister from Eagle Christian Church.
That must have been an interesting hearing. Here’s the rest of the news story:
The committee’s debate sent a signal about how SB 1342 could be amended. But there are no guarantees. When a bill is opened up for amendment, any lawmaker can propose any change. The amended bill would still have to pass the Senate before it goes to the House.
We don’t know what to make of this, so we’ll have to wait for further developments.
Addendum: The new bill has been vetoed — see Bible-as-reference bill vetoed in Idaho.
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