President Donald Trump seemed to endorse the idea that public schools across the nation should offer Bible study in their curricula, according to a tweet he issued out on Monday morning.
“Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible,” Trump observed in his tweet. “Starting to make a turn back? Great!”
Trump’s statement is somewhat misleading: states haven’t yet introduced the classes to students, but rather six states across the country have introduced bills that would, if passed, allow or require public schools in their jurisdiction to offer such classes.
Those classes would teach about the Bible in a mostly historical sense, according to reporting from Politico. Critics of the bills, however, contend that those classes would blur the line between an established separation of church and state, which forbids the reading and teaching of Bible verses in public school settings.
— The Salt Lake Tribune (@sltrib) January 28, 2019
The Supreme Court made that decision in 1963, in a case called Abington v. Schempp. In the 8-1 ruling that the High Court rendered, it was held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — forbidding Congress from passing “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” — through the application of the 14th Amendment to the states, was unconstitutional, and that the teaching of any religion fell within those bounds.
Although Trump has seemingly endorsed going against this precedent, many might believe he’d benefit from actually taking biblical studies himself, considering that he calls himself a Christian but has made several gaffes when speaking about his faith in the past.
Trump, for example, cited “Two Corinthians” at a speech to Evangelicals, per reporting from NPR, misidentifying the actual book of the Bible that is named “Second Corinthians.” And according to reporting from the Washington Times, Trump cited “an eye for an eye” as his favorite Bible passage — a concept, it must be pointed out, that Jesus soundly rejected in the New Testament.