Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin already declared 2017 the Year of the Bible, so it makes sense that he also signed these two bills into law, making it clear that Scripture is welcome in Kentucky public schools.
The new legislation allows students in Kentucky public schools to take Bible literacy courses as electives. The law will reinforce the rights already in place, but had been misunderstood in the past. The Kentucky Department of Education will develop policies allowing public schools to offer Bible courses.
There had been confusion in the past, with many teachers and administrators not allowing biblical references on public school grounds.
“Having seen so many students and teachers needlessly hurt by administrators who misunderstood religious liberty protections already in place, I believe these new laws will go a long way to clear misconceptions,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Some activist groups are upset because the new legislation also includes a religious freedom law that effectively allows public school student groups to discriminate against lesbian, gay, and transgender people, and other minority students.
"Governor Bevin’s shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardizes non-discrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities," said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow in a press release. "No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ. While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds."
The basis of the law revolves around political representatives feeling as though they are being persecuted.
"We know that the Muslims already they can freely express [their beliefs]," Sen. Albert Robinson told Lexington NPR station WUKY in February. "They have that constitutional right. They should be able to do that, but we Christians, we’re the ones that have been persecuted and to the point we’ll be prosecuted if we didn’t keep our mouth shut."
The new legislation does include other religions in terms of what you can choose to discriminate against, but focuses on protecting the practice of some passages in the Bible.
Do you think this law should have been passed to prevent Christians from persecution? Or is it limiting to other religions?