AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas high schools are not required to offer elective high school Bible courses under a new law adopted by the state last year, Attorney General Greg Abbott said.

The Legislature passed a law last year allowing for Bible courses to be offered as an elective starting in the 2009-10 school year.

Lawmakers directed the State Board of Education to adopt curriculum standards in line with the constitutional separation of church and state.

But because of questions about whether a school district was required to offer the class, Education Commissioner Robert Scott asked Abbott for an opinion.

Abbott's office said Aug. 28 that the new law "authorizes but does not require school districts and charter schools to offer" the Bible course.

Lawmakers adopted the measure with an assurance the class would only focus on the history and literature of the Bible, and not evangelize for or disparage any faith. It also required the attorney general to review the curriculum.

According to the law, the elective Bible course aims to expose students to biblical content and characters as key to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, oratory and public policy.