Idaho Republicans are pushing a bill that would allow teachers to cite the Bible as a reference book in science classes.
The Senate Education Committee has given preliminary approval to a measure introduced by state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll (R-Cottonwood) that would permit teachers to use the religious document "for reference purposes" in classes such as astronomy, biology and geology.
A Democratic senator questioned why the bill was necessary, because teachers are already permitted to highlight biblical allusions in history and literature, but Nuxoll said a statute was needed to highlight the Bible's importance.
"It’s to clarify and make sure teachers know their rights," Nuxoll said. "A lot of teachers are scared to use the Bible."
State Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise) reminded Nuxoll that her measure might allow other religious texts to be used in schools, but the GOP lawmaker insisted the Bible was "embedded" in American culture.
Nuxoll's bill would not require students to study the Bible if they or their parents object.
The lawmaker is perhaps best known for comparing the Affordable Care Act to the Holocaust in 2013.
“The insurance companies are creating their own tombs," Nuxoll said. "Much like the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps, private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange.”