Churchnet declares its opposition to proposed legislation in the Missouri House and Senate to encourage ‘Bible literacy’ classes in public high schools. The bills (HB 267, HCR 13, and SCR 13) purport to promote the instruction of the Bible as a nonreligious text with influence on U.S. literature, history, governance, and more. Not only is the legislation not needed to teach the influence of religious texts in public schools, but the legislation is designed to chip away at the U.S.’s historic church-state separation.
“Make no mistake, the Bible literacy bill coming through the Missouri House and Senate is a blatant attempt at establishing Christian Nationalism,” said Brian Ford, Executive Director of Churchnet. “This bill and others from ‘Project Blitz’ will erode church-state separation and work to erode religious freedom for non-Christians. We as Christians only have religious freedom if everyone has religious freedom.”
The Missouri bills are part of a national effort, known as “Project Blitz,” to push nearly-identical legislation on Bible literacy classes across the country. Lawmakers have also filed Bible literacy bills this year in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, North Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia.
Baptists in Virginia have similarly opposed that state’s Bible literacy bill. And nationally, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has voiced opposition to this type of legislation. Churchnet is a member body of the BJC along with more than a dozen other Baptist groups.
Churchnet’s Associate Director, Brian Kaylor, testified against HB 267 in a Feb. 19 hearing held by the House Special Committee on Student Accountability. He explained that the Baptist heritage of advocating for religious liberty for all, which includes church-state separation, led him to oppose the bill.
“I oppose this legislation not because I do not care about the Bible but precisely because I, as a Baptist minister, view the Bible as sacred,” Kaylor told the committee. “The Bible is inherently religious and we cannot pretend otherwise. To strip away the sacredness of the text is not to treat it as good literature but to profane it.”
“I do not need the state teaching my son how to read the Bible,” he added. “And, frankly, I don’t trust the state to teach my son the Bible. I will do that. Our church will do that.”