A new poll released by The Hill on May 24, 2019 found that only 12% of Americans want Bible Literacy classes as an elective in public schools. They support a course in Bible history only and not about literature on other religions and atheism.
The poll also showed that 33% of respondents support the idea of states offering lessons on all major religions, and 17% of this group would like public schools to include a history of atheism in the course. Meantime, 17% of participants said they were unsure of their opinion on the matter.
One thing that the Bible does teach is wisdom. I don’t think anyone could deny that we so desperately need wisdom in our public schools right now. —Mike Hill, Member of Florida House of Representatives
Natalie Jackson, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, said, “Most of the time in polling, we don’t see ‘unsure’ answers close to 20 percent like it was in this particular poll.” She added that, “I just think there’s no real consensus right now on the type of policy.”
Kentucky was the first state to authorize public schools to offer Bible classes. Eleven states, including Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, Virginia, and West Virginia, are now following suit, with legislators proposing to teach Bible lessons in schools. This move drew mixed reactions from the public and government officials.
President Donald Trump supported Bible Literacy classes with this tweet: “Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!”
Rep. Mike Hill, co-sponsor of Florida’s Bible Literacy bill, told CNN, “One thing that the Bible does teach is wisdom. I don’t think anyone could deny that we so desperately need wisdom in our public schools right now.”
Indiana state Sen. Dennis Kruse (R) said, “I’m a Christian person and a religious person. I think we need more Christianity and more religion in our society, in our state.”
On the other end of the spectrum, secular and atheist groups denounced the legislation.
“The goal of this campaign is to cement Christian supremacy into the law,” said Nick Fish, president of American Atheists.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State argued that Bible classes in schools are “designed to promote a particular religion” and it could be used to evangelize young people.
Conservative legislators have been promoting Bible literacy bills as part of an initiative called Project Blitz, a movement designed to spread Christian values to the public. Project Blitz aims “to protect the free exercise of traditional Judeo-Christian religious values and beliefs in the public square, and to reclaim and properly define the narrative which supports such beliefs.”