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South Dakota Legislature Passes Bill Urging Academic Study of the Bible: Becomes 6th Legislature to Encourage Public School Bible Courses

Contact: Bible Literacy Project, 540-622-2265

New York, NY., Feb. 15, 2012 /Standard Newswire/ -- In late January, the South Dakota legislature approved resolution HRC 1004, which supports the academic study of the Bible in public schools. State Rep. Steve Hickey, the resolution's chief sponsor, said he hoped the courses would make students aware of the Bible's immense cultural influence. "I have a concern that we're raising a generation of kids who can't quote anything beyond Sponge Bob," Hickey said.

Five other states -- Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Oklahoma -- have also passed laws promoting public school academic study of the Bible. While teaching about the Bible is legal nationwide, these states have used legislation to raise public awareness and to promote statewide implementation of these courses.

Some public school students in South Dakota are already taking a Bible course using 'The Bible and Its Influence,' the only student textbook about the Bible designed for public schools. Recently released in its second edition by the Bible Literacy Project, this text is used by 540 high schools nationwide.

In eight states, more than 5 percent of public schools are using this textbook: Georgia (12.6%), Alabama (10.3%), Indiana (9.1%), Texas (8.4%), Tennessee (7.9%), South Carolina (7.0%), North Carolina (5.8%) and Kentucky (5.0%) In addition, 'The Bible and Its Influence' has achieved acceptance in larger districts. It is now taught in 30 districts that enroll more than 20,000 students. "Larger school districts often require a district-wide curriculum review, with public review and comment on the curriculum and multiple layers of approval," said Chuck Stetson, Bible Literacy Project's CEO. "Our track record of successful implementation and strong community support has given larger districts confidence that our materials meet the educational needs of their diverse student populations."

Because only seven states remain in the organization's quest to be utilized in all 50 states, Bible Literacy Project is offering a free class set of textbooks to the first public school in Delaware, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wyoming ready to teach the course. "When one school implements the course, we quickly make contact with neighboring schools who want to try it too," said Stetson. "We welcome the opportunity to show these remaining states the strength of our program."

Bible Literacy Project is a non-partisan, non-profit endeavor to encourage and facilitate the academic study of the Bible in public schools. Along with the First Amendment Center, the Bible Literacy Project co-published The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide, the historic 1999 statement that established guidelines for teaching about the Bible in public schools. The Guide was endorsed by 21 leading organizations, including the National School Boards Association. In 2011, the Bible Literacy Project released the second edition of 'The Bible and Its Influence,' the first student textbook for academic study of the Bible in public high schools in the last 30 years. This text has gained national recognition for its scholarly approach to teaching about the Bible in compliance with First Amendment guidelines. Designed for high school students in grades 9-12, and enjoyed equally by college students and adult learners, 'The Bible and Its Influence' can be taught as an English, social studies, or humanities elective. Bible Literacy Project ( is a division of Essentials in Education, an educational publisher.


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