Bill to allow Bible classes

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    May 24, 2007 – 1:32AM
    AUSTIN School districts could offer elective classes about the Bible if at least 15 students request it under a bill on its way to becoming law. House Bill 1287 passed the Senate on Wednesday 28-2. It was approved after the author, Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, withdrew an amendment that would have required districts to offer the classes if enough students asked for it.
    Estes removed the amendment after objection on the Senate floor by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.
    Hinojosa said he was against language in the amendment that said districts must offer the classes.
    “What you’re doing is mandating Bible classes in public schools,” Hinojosa said.
    Estes removed the amendment, but Hinojosa did not vote for the bill. He said schools should instead offer classes on historical influences of religion in the world.
    “There’s a bigger principle at stake, and that is freedom of religion; separation of church and state,” Hinojosa said.
    Estes said the bill did not cross those lines.
    “This bill has been carefully crafted to not be a religious bill,” Estes said. “It’s an academic bill.”
    Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, first introduced a bill that would have required classes to be offered in all schools. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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