JEFFERSON CITY — Public schools in Missouri will soon be encouraged to teach the Bible.
The House passed a resolution that, if signed by the governor, will encourage public high schools to offer an elective course on the Bible and which recommends that they require that world literature courses include information on “wisdom literature” from the Bible.
The House gave final approval to the resolution Thursday, the second-to-last day of the legislative session.
According to the bill, the purpose of the resolution’s recommendations would be to teach students information from the Bible that is important for understanding contemporary society and culture.
State Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho, said Bible literacy is an essential element of quality education.
“In America, no root runs deeper than the Bible,” Baker said.
There was clarification that the bill would only encourage this, not require it. Some lawmakers expressed discomfort with this becoming a requirement, but there wasn’t outright disapproval for the bill. Because it is a resolution, not a law, it doesn’t have any enforcement mechanism.
The bill passed 105-39, with three members not casting ballots.
When the bill was debated in the Senate, some concerns were raised that it wasn’t inclusive because it does not include the teachings of other religions.
Similar objections were raised in the House when another bill, which would allow schools to offer an elective course on the Bible, was debated. That bill was approved by the House earlier this year, but has not made it out of the Senate. With only a day remaining in the session, it’s unlikely that anything more than the resolution passed Thursday will be approved.
The resolution doesn’t specifically define the phrase “wisdom literature,” but states: “wisdom literature from the Bible, which has an emphasis on good character, has been taught for three thousand years but not for the last fifty years by accident.”