With New Wave of Legislation, States Aim to Reintroduce Biblical Values to Schools
In Texas, bills have been introduced that would require that the Ten Commandments be posted in public school classrooms and for schools to be free to hire or accept volunteer chaplains to perform services including mental health support, suicide prevention, and other services.
In Kentucky, a measure was advanced in the state House that would protect the “private religious expression” of teachers. Specific actions protected for school employees under the bill include engaging in religious discussion, sharing religious material with other employees, forming prayer groups with other employees, sponsoring a student religious club, wearing religious clothing or jewelry, and decorating their desks and personal spaces with religious items.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law a bill that allows schools to say a prayer over the public address system before athletic events.
In Louisiana, a bill that would offer public school students in grades 9-12 a voluntary course on the Bible is currently before the state legislature. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Valarie Hodges (R), joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” on Monday to discuss the legislation and the increasing openness of her fellow lawmakers to share their faith.
“[T]here were very few people who would openly profess their faith [in years past],” she noted. “Now I would say the majority of people in this legislature are not ashamed to say they’re Christians. They’re not ashamed to stand up for their faith. And it’s past time. It’s way past time that we do that. When prayer was removed out of schools and the Bible was removed, I think people are seeing the end result of that, that it’s not good.”
Hodges went on to emphasize why a course on the Bible is important for today’s public school students.
“The Bible is the most published book in the world, and it contains 6,000 years of history,” she explained. “My bill … authorizes teaching the Bible as literature and history. And what better book could we get our history from? It’s got the most history [of any book] in the world. … [O]ur laws that we have in the United States, our culture, art, so much is encapsulated in the Bible. … My bill [is a] first step [so] we can get the Bible into the hands of students to actually understand what [it] is about.”
Hodges further highlighted how a large swath of America’s youth have little knowledge of the Bible’s historical importance in America’s founding.
“Even our Declaration of Independence [in] the preamble is talking about a creator and acknowledges the creator. … I heard a statistic [that] 90% of teenagers have never read the Bible in this new generation that we have. And so they don’t have a reference point of, ‘What creator are we talking about?’ Our Founding Fathers were referencing the Bible.”
The Louisiana lawmaker additionally contended that a removal of biblical principles from public schools has led to an increase in societal lawlessness.
“When you look at the statistics on crime before the 1960s, it was nothing like it is now,” Hodges argued. “I think there’s a plausible explanation that can be found. … Where do we get our morality from? We get our morality from the Bible. … I was talking to a group last night. We were talking about the murder rates, the crime rates, homelessness, and all this that we’re seeing. Well, we used to teach that stealing is a sin. And we’re not right now. … [If you say] that things are ‘immoral’ — you get laughed at if you use that word anymore. But I think it’s becoming apparent that there is a crisis of morality in our nation. And we’ve got to restore that.”
Hodges expressed hope that her legislation will serve as a model in order to help clear up misconceptions about the idea of the separation of church and state.
“I really hope to see schools adopting this and teachers teaching this because there’s been a lot of confusion in the schools that I’ve [visited when] talking to teachers. … So that was one of the impetuses for me — filing the bill is to clear up any confusion. The Supreme Court ruled that schools can teach the Bible in public schools and private schools. I’m hoping this bill … will clear up any confusion and encourage schools to adopt this course and teachers to teach it.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.