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Panel approves Bible classes for public schools

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‘Angel sent down’ to put Bible on Kentucky school curriculum, legislator says

A Kentucky state Senate committee has approved legislation allowing the Bible to be studied as a literary subject in public schools, a move that means the state will likely follow Tennessee, Texas and a handful of others in bringing the Christian text into the curriculum.

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The bill, put forward by three Democratic state senators, orders the Kentucky Board of Education to draw up guidelines for teaching the Bible as a literary work in the context of “literature, art, music, mores, oratory and public policy,” reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. The Bible courses would be elective.

The bill passed the committee 12-0, and is expected to sail smoothly through the legislature. “It’s the kind of legislation that most Kentucky lawmakers dare not vote against, especially in an election year,” reports the Associated Press.

In praising the legislation, state Sen. Elizabeth Tori told the bill’s sponsors that “an angel was sent down on your shoulders” prompting “you to put this bill together,” as quoted at the Courier-Journal.

“I‘ve said for many years that until we put God back into our households, things in society will not change for the better,” Tori said.

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“So our politicians believe in imaginary cherubs from the sky dropping down to suggest legislation. Alert the writers at the Jon Stewart show,” writes Rick Redding at the Louisville Mojo blog. “Sorry, Ms. Tori, but there are schools you can send your kids to if you want a religious education. Those aren’t the ones funded by taxpayers.”

But the bill’s sponsors insist the new law wouldn’t amount to religious indoctrination and steers clear of violating the principle of separation of church and state.

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“There are so many aspects in the scripture relevant to literature — it’s relevant to art, to music, to social issues as well,” Democratic state Sen. David Boswell, the bill’s chief sponsor, told ABC affiliate WTVQ. “I know of no other book out there with the thousands of years of documentation on all of these social issues that can be used for instructional purposes.”

The American Civil Liberties Union says that, while the bill doesn’t appear to be unconstitutional, it will likely lead to abuses that will violate students’ rights.

“It’s not clearly unconstitutional on its face, but it will likely lead to a host of unconstitutional actions by school boards,” ACLU of Kentucky executive director Michael Aldridge told AP. “It’s obviously kind of a backdoor means to open the door to teach unconstitutional Bible courses in public schools.”

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The national legal director of American Atheists told WTVQ that he views the proposed law as unconstitutional.

“Nowhere does this book or this course intend to say these are mythological stories. They are presented as fact and they are presented as true history,” Edward Kagin said. “I would readily support a bill to teach comparative religion, but I am opposed to teaching essentially the Christian religion.”

Late last month, Tennessee’s state board of education approved guidelines for a secular Bible course, which will be taught starting this fall as “part of a secular curriculum.”

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Texas has had a similar law on the books since 2007, and as of this fall, offering the class will be mandatory in Texas school districts.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump-loving “hate group” leader struggles to defend chauvinism during CNN interview on Portland chaos

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Portland, Oregon on Saturday was the scene of another far-right mobilization by groups such as the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer.

CNN's Sara Sidner interviewed Enrique Tarrio, who succeeded Gavin McInnes as the chairman of the Proud Boys. The group is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Tarrio had traveled from Miami to take part in the far-right rally in Portland and appeared to be wearing body armor.

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‘Go back to Harlem!’: Florida woman has n-word laced meltdown after bumping black woman’s shopping cart

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On Saturday, the Atlanta Black Star reported an incident in Florida, in which a white woman screamed racial slurs at a black woman at a Publix supermarket in Miami after their shopping carts jostled each other.

After the woman allegedly banged into Nicki Johnson's cart, she refused to apologize, saying, "I didn't hit you with my cart, and f**k you,  you f**king n****r."

Johnson whipped out her cell phone camera, and began recording the incident, saying "You, why don't you call me a n****r again?"

"You thinking I'm sorry?" snapped the woman. "Let me tell you something, I don't have to call you anything. Get away from me, I will call security and there are surveillance videos. Get away from me!"

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‘I’m a nurse, what are you?’: Tennessee lawmaker humiliates anti-choice activists in brutal public grilling

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Anti-choice activists in Tennessee were unprepared for the grilling they got from a Democratic Party lawmaker when making the case for a bill that would outlaw abortion before many women knew they were pregnant.

One of the speakers in favor of the fetal heartbeat bill was Baptist Pastor Randy Davis, who was questioned by state Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis).

"How many women executive pastors do you have in your convention?" Robinson asked Davis. "Or senior pastors."

"None," Davis replied.

"So is it the same ideology that restricts access to women being able to lead a congregation that leads you all to support women not being able to make a medical decision about their body?" Robinson asked.

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