Committee votes down Bible class

Last modified: 2/22/2012 12:00:00 AM
The House Education Committee quickly and quietly voted to recommend dismissing a bill that would mandate Bible studies courses in public schools. The committee voted 17-0 yesterday to put the bill on the consent calendar as inexpedient to legislate.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Bergevin of Manchester, would require all schools to offer an elective social studies course on the Bible, highlighting its impact and effect 'on law, history, government, literature, art, music, customs, morals, values, and culture.'

Bergevin's bill would require all schools to offer a course in Bible studies where students would examine the Old Testament, the New Testament or both. The course is necessary, Bergevin wrote, because 'knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives . . . are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, morals, oratory, and public policy.'

During the hearing on the bill earlier this month, several members of the committee said they supported the idea of changing the bill from 'requiring' to 'encouraging' a Bible studies course, which could make the bill 'more amenable to the Constitution,' as Rep. JR Hoell said.

Several committee members said at the hearing they could not support dictating a curriculum to schools, and no committee member offered amendments yesterday. In seconding the motion to reject it, Rep. Mary Gorman of Nashua said of the bill: 'It speaks for itself.'

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com.)


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