Bible studies class bill under fire in North Dakota

North Dakota legislators have proposed a bill allowing public high schools to offer an elective Bible studies class as part of its social studies curriculum.

"The intention of this bill is to provide an option to schools to teach a class on the bible from a historical perspective," State Rep. Aaron McWilliams, R-Hillsboro, a co-sponsor of the bill, told Fox News. "My position is that no religious text should be excluded from being taught as it relates to the historical or philosophical influences in our history or on our society today."

But the Republican lawmakers have come under heavy criticism for the proposal. The American Civil Liberties Union  even stepped in and called it "unconstitutional."

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The bill, which was recently amended, said that out of the 22 units required to graduate high school in North Dakota, of the three units for social studies, "any one-half unit may be replaced by Bible studies."

But the ACLU claims the course needs to bring other viewpoints into the mix to be constitutional.

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“A school could teach comparative religious classes or you could talk about the Bible’s relationship to literature, art, or music," Heather Smith, ACLU executive director in North Dakota, told KVRR. It’s really difficult to do so in a constitutionally–permissible manner, and those are really our issues with this bill."

McWilliams said he would support an elective class on the Koran or any other religious text from a historical and sociological point of view.

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"I believe we all understand and support the separation of Church and State but I don't support the separation of a primary source, such as the Bible or Koran, from learning about its influence in our society," he said.

Kentucky passed a similar bill in 2017 -- which also received criticism from the ACLU -- allowing public schools to offer Bible literacy courses. The Florida House is also mulling a similar bill.

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