Bible Study Class Sails through House on 151-7 Vote; in Proposal, Teachers Could Not Promote or Disparage Christianity or Any Other Religion

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Byline: BRANDON LARRABEE

ATLANTA -- A bill that would allow the academic study of the Bible in public schools passed the House overwhelmingly Monday after virtually no debate.

Despite touching the sometimes volatile issue of the role of faith in public schools, the bill attracted little attention and there was just one speaker: Rep. James Mills, R-Gainesville, who sponsored the measure. Mills said the classes outlined by the bill were similar to courses in other states that had stood up to legal challenges.

"I believe it's a well-crafted bill that meets constitutional muster," he said.

Under the proposal, schools would be allowed to offer two elective high school courses: the History and Literature of the Old Testament Era and the History and Literature of the New Testament Era. At least one of the textbooks must be the Bible.

Teachers would not be allowed to either promote or disparage Christianity or any other religion during the courses, which could be offered any time after July 1, 2007.

The measure, Senate Bill 79, sailed through the lower chamber on a 151-7 vote. …