On Tuesday, Republican Governor Matt Bevin signed a bill into law that allows the Bible to be taught in Kentucky schools. It will be an elective course under the social studies curriculum. The ceremony, of course, opened in prayer.
The bill’s sponsor says students need to understand the role the Bible played in American history.
“It really did set the foundation that our founding fathers used to develop documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights,” said Rep. D.J. Johnson (R-Owensboro). “All of those came from principles from the Bible.” (WDRB)
Wait. Full stop. All? The actual, historically correct answer to whether these documents came from the Bible and Christianity is no, according to religious and historical scholars. America was not founded as a Christian nation, nor was it intended for the government to be religious. The bigger concern is will this class be taught in the appropriate historical context?
American citizens escaped religious oppression from Europe after the Revolution, and the founding fathers strove to ensure the state would never sponsor a specific religion over others. Hence the separation of church and state. Benjamin Franklin was the only admitted deist of the leading Founding Fathers. Yes, they wanted to protect religious liberty, but it was to be kept personal. Individual religious freedom and tolerance were promoted above all else by the nature of the system.
The writings of the period (1765-1790), including speeches, debates, letters, pamphlets, and even sermons, reflect the overwhelming influence of Enlightenment, Whig, and classical republican theories. The political events of the period also support the conclusion that the founders intended to institute a secular-based form of governance. (CNN)
If the founders had not made their stance on this “Christian nation” issue clear enough in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, they certainly did in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli.Begun by George Washington, signed by John Adams and ratified unanimously by a Senate still half-filled with signers of the Constitution, this treaty announced firmly and flatly to the world that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
The ACLU plans to keep a close eye on the situation in Kentucky, to make sure the classes are taught without being preached or steeped in indoctrination. The Governor stated, “You could be an atheist, and you would appreciate there’s a lot of wisdom in the Bible.” Okay…sure.