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South Dakota legislature OKs bill urging academic study of Bibles in schools

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 5 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

PIERRE, S.D. — A measure encouraging South Dakota schools to provide academic instruction on the Bible has won final approval from the state Legislature amid criticism from some lawmakers that it could blur the line between government and religion.

The Senate voted 25-10 on Monday to pass the non-binding resolution, which has no force of law. The House passed the measure last week. Sen. Elizabeth Kraus, R-Rapid City, said students need to learn about the Bible because it permeates culture, laws and literature. Many young people know very little about the Bible, and schools can provide instruction on it without promoting religion, she said.

"The Bible is alone in terms of its influence on Western civilization," she said.

But Sen. Tom Hansen, R-Huron, said he opposes the measure because it could get government involved in religious issues.

"I kind of follow the philosophy it's up to the state to regulate state things and it's up to the church to regulate church things," Hansen said.

The measure encourages school districts to provide instruction that makes students familiar with the content, character and narratives of the Bible. It says the instruction also should make students aware of the role the Bible has played in the development of literature, art, culture and public discourse.

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