OK, class, take out your Ouija boards

By Mike Murphy

Alleluia! In the current session of the Idaho state Legislature, senator Sheryl Nuxoll (R) has introduced a bill to make the language more “explicit” in the existing bill which allows the Bible to be used in the classroom because, as she said, “A lot of teachers are scared to use the Bible.” This is no doubt true. I know that when I was teaching I avoided referencing the Bible because I could never spell “Ecclesiastes” right. Plus I always got mixed up in my pronunciations of “Book of Job” and “Steve Jobs.”

This is not the first time that Senator Nuxoll has used her position as an elected official to help her constituents in a relevant manner. In the past she has voted in favor of a bill that prohibits texting while driving and in favor of a bill that prohibits the establishment of local knife regulations. So, thanks to the senator, you can’t text but you can play with really big knives while driving in Idaho.

Nuxoll defended her latest bill by expounding that the Bible is “embedded” in American culture. Certainly the Bible is one of the top selling books of all time, along with Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung. However, in a recent year, the top three selling books in the U.S. were “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” and “Fifty Shades Freed.” Now there’s some literature that would certainly liven up class discussions!

One theory supporting Senator Nuxoll’s bill is that knowledge of the Bible will enhance one’s understanding of people of faith generally, including those of other religions. Of course, we see ample evidence of this religious empathy towards various faiths from such Biblical connoisseurs as Donald Trump.

Nuxoll herself has demonstrated an educated understanding of people of faith by once stating that Hinduism is “a false faith with false gods.” Possibly she feels this way because Hindus hold cows in high regard. Ironic, when one considers that we Idahoans also like our cows, generally rare to medium rare.

Another argument proposed in her favor is that it is hard to imagine a person could be an educated individual unless one at least has a working knowledge of the Bible. Maybe so, but Idaho students’ SAT scores show that their working knowledge of math could use some divine intervention.

The Republican senator pointed out that several states have already passed laws supporting the Bible as literature in their schools, including Florida, Georgia, S. Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas. For some inexplicable reason, it seems that GOP leaders in this state look to the Deep South as a role model to follow when it comes to education. Possibly, their goal is to make all the children in Idaho resemble the kid sitting on the porch playing the banjo in the film “Deliverance.”

I’m just a little nervous that if we start pushing the Old Testament too much, say, for example, the “eye for an eye” passage, it could result in class pictures resembling the cast of the film “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Along that same line, one unfortunate result of Southern schools’ use of the Bible as literature is pretty obvious to all of us. You do not need to look at very many pictures of Arkansas graduates’ smiling faces to see the harmful consequence of instilling the “tooth for a tooth” scripture in their young minds.

Nuxoll’s Bible bill states that the book can be used as a reference for astronomy, biology, history and geography to name a few. For example, one could cite Ecclesiastes 1:6-7, “The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits” in a unit on meteorology, since it makes about as much sense as the weatherman on television.

I think that using the Bible in class would be a huge boon to world history teachers as far as conserving valuable class time is concerned: “God created the earth, Adam, and Eve. Then came the Renaissance.”

For some reason, the bill does not mention using the Bible in driver’s education classes. What could be more practical than teaching high school students 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet”? Good-bye backseat drivers!

Certain Bible passages could be incorporated in the physical education curriculum and apparently already has been in some states. One can easily imagine that Ronda Rousey’s high school PE teacher frequently quoted from Judges 9:52-53, “And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull.”

The only catch that I see to all this is that the Supreme Court ruled that teachers can discuss the Bible or religion if “it is presented objectively.” So it could work as long as teachers do not use the Republican presidential candidates as role models.

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist with accolades including an Associated Press first-place award in column writing and a first place award in a national writing contest sponsored by Nissan Corp. His articles are syndicated by Senior Wire.