A Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill in the state legislature requiring public high schools to offer a course in the Bible and the Christian religion, arguing the measure would reduce crime.
The Sunshine State already has an existing state law, approved in 2002, granting school districts the options of providing courses to include the “objective study” of the Bible.
House Bill 195, however, would require the school districts to include the courses as a part of the curriculum while allowing students to decide on enrolling.
Rep. Brad Drake, the Republican co-sponsoring HB 195, said he believed students learning about the Bible would reduce crime.
“A study of a book of creation by its creator is absolutely essential,” Mr Drake told the Tampa Bay Times. “So why not? It’s the book that prepares us for eternity, and there’s no other book that does that.”
But the Mr Drake’s reasoning demonstrates why secularists oppose the bill. Florida schools are already allowed to add Bible courses, and opponents believe there may be an ulterior motive to the proposed measure.
“There’s no question this bill is introduced with the goal of putting God in our schools,” Rachel Laser, CEO of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, told the Tampa Bay Times.
Ms Laser described HB 195, and other similar legislation, as unconstitutional and divisive. She argued that the first 16 words of the First Amendment makes the case against Mr Drake’s proposed bill: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
“There’s an explicit strategy to pass an incremental set of bills that start with more passable ones that sound neutral, but they aren’t,” Ms Laser added.