- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho Senate on Monday approved legislation to “expressly permit” using the Bible for academic study in public schools, even though state law already permits using the Bible for academic purposes.

The legislation says the Bible can be used for reference purposes in subjects like literature, history, music and world geography in public schools, but excludes scientific subjects that were included in an earlier version of the bill.

It also replaces a previous statute that required Bible passages to be selected by the Idaho Board of Education and to be read in each classroom daily.

Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R- Cottonwood, says SB 1342 would clarify any misconceptions in current code by overtly allowing the religious text in the classroom, while striking the outdated language.

“In an environment often clouded by political correctness, Senate Bill 1342 eliminates confusion as to what your rights are and affirms free speech for our students, parents and teachers,” she said.

Nuxoll also said that Biblical literacy is essential to understanding the history and origin of western civilization and was brought over by “our nation’s first immigrants.”

However, the bill was met with opposition from three Senate Democrats who argued the measure would increase division between religious groups, while Senator Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, pointed out discrepancies In Nuxoll’s testimony regarding the first European immigrants.

“The people who came to this continent after the Bible had been written found this continent occupied,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne, of Boise, argued by mentioning the Bible, the bill inherently gives the Bible an elevated status over other religious texts in the law.

“At the time the constitution was written, Europe had been convulsed by religious wars,” Burgoyne said. “I think there is a tendency to take for granted the freedoms we have and the tolerance that we have to other (people’s) religious beliefs.”

The measure passed 31-3 and now heads to the House.

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