Albany, NY—Today, the national religious equality watchdog, American Atheists, praised the New York Assembly Education Committee for voting 23-6 against Bible class legislation (A6315). This controversial bill would have encouraged public schools to offer elective Bible courses and required the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines for such classes.
This victory comes after American Atheists submitted testimony, warning members of the Assembly Education Committee that multiple studies have found that Bible classes are often taught in an unconstitutional way that promotes Christianity and exposes public schools to lawsuits.
“New York did the right thing. These Bible courses often serve as a veneer to engage in proselytizing in public schools,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists. “Rather than protecting religious freedom in schools, this Christian nationalist bill would undermine the religious freedom of anyone who is not Christian by potentially subjecting students to religious coercion.”
New York’s Bible class bill is similar to model legislation provided by the secretive Christian Nationalist campaign, Project Blitz, which American Atheists and partners in the BlitzWatch Coalition oppose.
Project Blitz dates back to 2015. In 2017, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF), one of the groups behind Project Blitz, released a state-level legislative guide promoting nearly two dozen harmful bills, including those allowing discrimination in adoption and foster care, as well as denial of health services.
“Project Blitz attempts to pass these Bible class bills and other seemingly innocuous bills in order to insert religious messaging into schools and then build momentum for far worse, discriminatory legislation,” said Gill.
“New York taxpayer dollars should fund public education, not be wasted on Project Blitz’s out-of-state efforts to indoctrinate students,” she added.