The Tulsa Interfaith Alliance wishes to voice its opposition to Senate Bill 48, introduced by Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City). The bill seeks to provide immunity from liability for school district employees who wish to teach an elective course on religion or the Bible. You can find the exact wording of bill by clicking on this link.
“It is already legal, under existing law and judicial precedence, for public schools to teach the cultural significance of the bible or any other sacred text. This legislation is an attempt to legally shield school districts who wish to violate existing law rather than do what is necessary to properly train faculty and staff on the appropriate ways to teach religion,” said Rev. Bob Lawrence, Executive Director of the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance.
Senator Loveless has stated that his bill is in response to concern by one school district that wanted to authorize the use of the curriculum developed by the Museum of the Bible, which was founded by Steve Green (Hobby Lobby). After objections raised by the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Americans United For Separation of Church and State through the ACLU, the school district opted not to offer the class.
The curriculum in question is widely acknowledged to not be appropriate for use in public schools because it teaches a narrow Christian understanding of the Bible, including references to its supremacy over other texts. Other companies have produced curricula that teach the cultural significance of the Bible without crossing the line into teaching Christian dogma.
Lawrence pointed out that the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, in partnership with Union Public Schools, hosted a well-attended workshop in 2014 designed to help educators learn how to teach about religion in public schools without violating the Establishment Clause.