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Kentucky Public Schools Create Bible Course as an Elective

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Kentucky public schools are now authorized to create an elective social studies course on the Bible.

The move comes after the Kentucky Senate approved legislation this week.

The new elective study will teach courses on Hebrew scriptures or the New Testament, or both.

Senator Robin Webb, D-Grayson, who sponsored the bill, said the course will serve historical purposes, not as religious instruction.

"What this does is to allow Bible literacy courses in the form of a social studies elective," she said. "This bill would not have religious connotation as much as a historical connotation."

The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern that the course could result in proselytizing.

"Although the current version of the bill incorporates constitutional standards, additional safeguards are necessary," the ADL said in a statement.

"Without this training, it would be all too easy for these Bible courses to lead — intentionally or inadvertently — to unconstitutional proselytizing or endorsement of religion, which would inevitably lead to students feeling excluded and schools being subject to costly lawsuits," the statement continued.

Former state Senator Jack Westwood, who is now a policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, says the bill would not result in instructors teaching the Bible.

As the course's focus will be on biblical content, character, poetry and narratives, Westwood told the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper that students should know how the Bible influences culture.

"I had a Bible class in high school and it was very beneficial to me from a historical position," Webb told The Independent.

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