In light of vocal opposition from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a bill requiring West Virginia schools to teach bible classes has died.
The West Virginia Senate did not even give a vote to SB 252, a bill that would have required all schools in the state, including elementary schools, to teach bible courses. FFRF released an informational video condemning the bill in early February.
FFRF is relieved that West Virginia lawmakers rejected such a transparent attempt to impose religion on other people’s children. This bill was unconstitutional and would have led to lawsuits against public schools.
The bill sought to frustrate West Virginia teachers, who recently gained national media attention by demanding that the state Legislature take action to remedy West Virginia teachers’ uncompetitive wages. The bill’s sponsors shamefully imposed additional requirements on public schools, while pushing them into inevitable lawsuits, rather than giving teachers much-needed relief.
Political manuevering aside, this proposed law was fundamentally misguided. Government employees should not impart religious beliefs to children. Elementary school students are particularly young and impressionable and a public elementary school education should not include religious instruction of any sort.
“The proposed indoctrination of such young children into a sectarian religious worldview is beyond the pale,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “In our secular system, West Virginia legislators were wise to drop this effort.”
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor adds that it is vital that the bible, with its Bronze Age morality, is not imposed on children.
FFRF has successfully stopped other illegal bible classes, including a recent court case stopping long-standing bible class in Mercer County in West Virginia itself, a class in Mustang, Okla., in 2014 — promoted by the Green family, which owns the Hobby Lobby chain — and in Dayton, Tenn., in 2006.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the largest freethought association in North America, with more than 32,000 members all over the United States, including in West Virginia.
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