Bill Would Allow School Credit For Religious Courses

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Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow public high schools to give students credit for religious courses taken during school hours.

"I don't see religion being something we should be fearful of," said Monty Lobb, a professor of Business and Government at Ohio Christian University.

Lobb says too many students are leaving high school without knowledge of the countries’ religious history.

"This plan would be voluntary," said Lobb.  "It's off premises and there's no school money, no transportation that's involved in this."

Rep. Bill Patmon, a Democrat from Cleveland, said he's sponsoring the bill because "God has been taken out of the schools."  

He says he wants students to be taught ethics and to learn about a variety of religions.

He emphasized no public school money will be used.

But Gary Daniels from the American Civil Liberties Union says it could cause unforeseen issues.

"It could open up a bunch of Pandora's Boxes, let's say," said Daniels.

Daniels says awarding credit to a student who may be learning something that's opposite from what's being taught in the classroom is a bad idea.

"School districts can evaluate this using secular, non-religious criteria. With no religious tests," said Daniels.

Ohio would only be the second state, behind South Carolina, to allow this type of credit.

"My understanding is it would include world religions, so to me the more ideas you can have in the marketplace, the better off we are," said Lobb.

Patmon says he expects the bill to pass by the end of this year.

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