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Legislation, which passed the Arkansas House, would mandate public schools to offer a course on the Bible should 15 or more students request it.

Currently, there is a law on the books which allows public schools to offer an elective course on the Bible if requested. The course would still count as an elective but would be required of the school.

The bill passed the House by 64-7 on Tuesday, March 19.

The bill outlines “the offering of an academic study of the Bible course if students should request that the course be offered”. The course is set out to consist of a nonsectarian, nonreligious academic study of the Bible and its influence on literature, art, music, culture, and politics to be offered to students in public schools.

House Bill 1626 also outlines that the Bible course meet academic standards required of other courses as well as the Arkansas and the U.S. Constitution.

Teachers could not be assigned to teach the course based on any sort of religious test, profession of faith or the lack thereof, beliefs regarding the Bible, or religious affiliation.

In addition, the measure clearly states that the Bible course should be taught in a non-devotional manner which makes no attempt to indoctrinate students as to the truth or falsity of biblical materials or texts from other religions.

The bill also states that the Bible course would not be allowed to include texts from other religions or cultural traditions.

Read the full bill here.

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