Eastern Iowans weigh-in on 'Bible Literacy Bill'

Published: Jan. 19, 2018 at 9:12 PM CST
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A bill legislators introduced at the Iowa Statehouse would allow schools to add an elective course on the bible, and not everyone is happy with that idea.

House File 2031 says a school district may offer a course that would "provide students with knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture."

It focuses on the Bible's New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures.

Pastor Dave Doyle in Cedar Rapids says American culture is what studying the bible is all about.

"There are different faiths we have to recognize that but this is the one faith that was part of the founding of our nation," Doyle said.

One mother says the class would exclude every other religion. Naomi Homrighausen's family is Jewish and she says her daughter already feels like an outsider.

"My child goes to one of the Cedar Rapids schools and she's faced over a year now of things I never thought would happen here. She has been physically harassed, physically threatened, verbally harassed, had to listen to chants of 'Heil Hitler,'"Homrighausen said.

Doyle points out that it would just be an elective.

"I think it would be a mistake to make it mandatory," Doyle said.

He says he thinks it might inspire more kids to study the bible - something that he is seeing less and less in youth.

Homrighausen says religion shouldn't be in school because of the separation of church and state.

"We have that separation of church and state that was intentionally put in there as a first amendment and so it to me it wasn't even something that's lawful. It's not something that we should be entertaining," Homrighausen said.

Right now a committee on education is considering it.

The bill's language is different from a bill proposed in West Virgina that would reguire schools to offer an elective course on the Bible.

In the Iowa bill, school district's would be able to vote on the option to offer the class.