By Curt Anderson
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Legislation that would require all Florida public high schools to offer elective courses on the study of the Bible won approval Thursday in a House committee but still faces many hurdles and constitutional questions before it could become law.
The bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels of Jacksonville cleared a House Education panel Thursday on an 11-3 vote. Daniels said the intent was not to teach a specific religion in school but rather to emphasize the Bible’s role in history, culture and the founding of the U.S. government.
“No student would be forced to take any of these courses,” Daniels said. “It doesn’t teach Christianity. It teaches from the Bible on history and culture. It’s a foundation of this country.”
There are actually three courses that could be offered in grades 9 through 12: the Hebrew scriptures and Bible’s Old Testament; the Bible’s New Testament; and a combination of all three. The curriculum would have to be neutral as far as the religious aspects and could not harbor any hostility toward other religions or holy books.
Anthony Verdugo of the Christian Family Coalition said the courses would not be “devotional” in nature but focused on an objective, academic look at the Bible.
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