HB 1712 (2012, failed) requiring teaching of the Bible as literature

posted Feb 1, 2012, 3:41 PM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Mar 31, 2012, 4:16 AM ]
Docket (ITL, 284-5)

DNHPE Comment: This  the House Education Committee on February 2, 2012.   It was probably the worst presentation of a bill ever.  Here is the Concord Monitor article on the hearing.  

AN ACT relative to the teaching of the Bible in public schools.

SPONSORS: Rep. Bergevin, Hills 17; Rep. DeLemus, Straf 1; Rep. Itse, Rock 9; Rep. S. Tremblay, Rock 3; Rep. Kingsbury, Belk 4

COMMITTEE: Education

ANALYSIS

This bill requires the state board of education to establish an elective bible literacy course for pupils in grades 9-12.


The executive session on this bill was Tuesday 2/21/12.  The bill was voted ITL (Inexpedient to Legislate) 16-1.  Oddly, although the bill is on the Consent Calendar, meaning it would be automatically dispensed with on the floor, Rep. Bergevin, who was unable to defend it in committee, has offered an amendment, so the amendment will get a vote and the bill may be voted on as well.

The amendment is below, since it is not conveniently available elsewhere.  It has this Amended Analysis : 

"This bill allows a school district to offer an elective course in the study of the Bible as a work of literature for pupils in grades 9-12. "

Floor Amendment to HB 1712

(2012-1004h)

Proposed by Rep. Bergevin

Amend the bill by replacing all after the enacting clause with the following:

      ­1  Intent and Justification. The general court finds and recognizes the history of our country, from the Mayflower Compact, Revolutionary War, the Federalist Papers, and other speeches and writings of our Founding Fathers, is rooted in the belief in God and the teachings of the Bible.

      ­2  New Paragraph; State Board of Education; Duties.  Amend RSA 186:11 by inserting after paragraph IX-c the following new paragraph:

            IX-d.(a)  Require school districts to adopt a policy establishing an elective course for pupils in grades 9-12 in the study of the Bible as a work of literature.  The policy shall permit a school to offer:

                        (1)  An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible; or

                        (2)  An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or

                        (3)  An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

                  (b)  The purpose of the course shall be to:

                        (1)  Teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, morals, oratory, and public policy; and

                        (2)  Familiarize students with, as applicable:

                              (A)  The contents of the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament;

                              (B)  The history of the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament;

                              (C) The literary style and structure of the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament; and

                              (D)  The influence of the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament on law, history, government, literature, art, music, customs, morals, values, and culture.

                  (c)  A student shall not be required to use a specific translation as the sole text of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament and may use as the basic textbook a different translation of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament from that chosen by the school or school district.

                  (d)  Such course shall comply with applicable federal and state laws and guidelines in maintaining religious neutrality and accommodating the diverse religious views, traditions, and perspectives of pupils in the school.  A course developed under this paragraph shall not endorse, favor, promote, disfavor, or show hostility toward, any particular religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective. The state board of education shall not violate any provision of the United States Constitution or federal law, the New Hampshire constitution or any state law, or any administrative regulations of the United States Department of Education or the New Hampshire department of education.

                  (e)  A school district may accept gifts or donations of any kind from any source for the purpose of developing and delivering such a course to pupils.

      ­3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.