Ark. bill on academic study of Bible passes

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - The Arkansas House has approved a bill to require the state's Education Board to sign off on classes involving an academic study of the Bible.

Lawmakers voted 79-3 in favor of the measure that would direct the state to approve elective Bible courses as long as they meet certain standards, such as an appropriate level of academic rigor.

Republican Rep. Denny Altes of Fort Smith is sponsoring the bill.

Department of Education Chief of Staff Phyllis Stewart said Monday that the legislation is unnecessary because school districts are already allowed to offer an academic study of the Bible as a history or social studies elective course. She said about four or five schools in the state offer such classes.

Altes acknowleged his bill does "almost nothing," but codifies the law.

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