March 5, 2020
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate passed and sent to Gov. Jim Justice a bill clarifying that county school boards may offer elective courses on the Bible.
HB 4780 passed Wednesday 30-3-1, but not before warnings about the constitutionality of the bill.
“I’ll bet you a Holy Rosary that this is going to be declared unconstitutional,” said Senator Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, moments before he reluctantly voted for it.
Senator Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, defended the bill in a floor debate with Woelfel.
“Does it (the bill) have any provision for any other sacred texts to be studied except the Christian Bible?” Woelfel asked Rucker. “No, it does not,” Rucker responded. “It says Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament or New Testament.”
But Rucker added that counties may, if they choose, still have courses on comparative religions. “This (bill) doesn’t exclude or prohibit that. This just gives guidelines for if you want to have a course on the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament or the New Testament.”