Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tennessee Legislature Authorizes Courses On Bible and Its Influence

The Tennessee legislature has passed and yesterday sent to Gov. Phil Bredesen for his signature HB 4089 that authorizes "the state board of education to develop and adopt a curriculum for a state funded elective course consisting of a nonsectarian, nonreligious academic study of the Bible and its influence on literature, art, music, culture, and politics." Attorney General Opinion 08-74 (April 1, 2008) concluded that the bill, with various protections in it, is consistent with the Establishment Clause. Attorney General Opinion 08-105 (May 7, 2008), warned that a then-pending amendment to remove certain guidelines for the course would make it more likely that a Bible course would be taught in an unconstitutional manner. The Paris (TN) Post-Intelligencer says that currently less than 20% of Tennessee's counties offer Bible courses in their schools. [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]