BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: February 4, 2010 at 7:43 am •  Published: February 4, 2010
A western Oklahoma Democrat has filed a proposal he says will give school districts guidelines in teaching elective classes on the Bible.

Senate Bill 1338 would allow districts to offer students in grades nine or higher an elective class on the Bible and its historical significance. The bill passed a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. The bill now will be heard by the full Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Tom Ivester of Elk City said he filed the bill to give school districts protection in offering classes on the Bible. Ivester said knowledge of the Bible and its characters is important to having a "well-rounded education.”

Ivester pointed out that many other literary texts mention the Bible or characters from the Bible. Students need to have an understanding of the Bible to understand other works, he said.

The elective classes would not use a specific translation of the Bible and would not recommend one religion over another, according to the bill.

Ivester said some school districts already offer courses on the Bible — and there is federal case law that guarantees the right of a district to teach the Bible as a historical document.

"This bill provides a framework of rules and regulations for school districts to say, ‘This is how we do it,’” Ivester said. Ongoing Coverage: Politics