MISSOURI — HB 267 would make bible classes an elective for public high schools.
Students in Missouri Public schools are another step closer to having the option of taking bible classes.
This bill would allow for bible classes to be an elective course, geared towards public high schools across the state.
Religon in schools can be a touchy subject, but when drafting House Bill 267, Representative Ben Baker of Newton County had a specific focus in mind to bring bible classes to public schools.
“It allows school districts to offer the bible as an elective — what I call a bible literacy class. The historical value of the bible, it’s influence on founding father’s, founding documents, and foundation of our nation,” Baker says.
Baker says there is currently a law that allows for religious books to be used as part of an elective, but he says his bill provides clarity to what is already in effect.
“I think the original intention in the language was to allow full electives on any religious book a school district should choose,” Baker says. “This bill — part of what it was doing — is to clarify the law that we should be able to allow a full elective on the bible for students to look at from that perspective, a historical perspective.”
For 25 years, Dr. Charlie Hedrick taught religious studies at Missouri State. He says in order for this to work at the high-school level, it will require teachers to be prepared properly.
“Whoever teaches these courses, they should have the idea that they are teaching about the religion and not trying to indoctrinate the students. It would be very helpful if they had a course from the state university about the various scriptures that they’re teaching,” says Hedrick.
He says — most importantly — the students should be taught from a critical standpoint.
“Let the youth make up their own minds,” says Hedrick.
Rep. Baker says that is something he feels is important.
“That is something that is very important to me, is making sure that we aren’t forcing anybody to believe anything.”
He also says it could be valuable for schools to teach comparitive classes so students can learn about other religions as well.
The Republican-lead house passed it pretty overwhemingly on Monday – a vote of 95-52.
They will now send this over to the Senate for vote a there, and it would need a signature from the Governor. If all of that happens, this would be set to take effect for the 2020-2021 school year.