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Sen. Burns files bill designating use of King James Bible for elective courses, school libraries

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. George Burns has introduced legislation for schools offering elective courses on Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament to utilize the source that influenced the work of America’s Founding Fathers—the King James Bible.  He’s filed Senate Bill 1161 to ensure that version is used for the courses and is available in school libraries. 

“Our Founding Fathers relied heavily upon the scriptures in the formation of our country, and the Bible they used was the King James Bible, which makes it an important historical document,” said Burns, R-Pollard.  “It influenced the writing of the major documents that created this country, including the Constitution.  It’s historically accurate to use that version, and it is in the public domain, which is also important.”

Current state law already allows schools to teach elective courses on the Bible, teaching students the influence of Scripture on law, history, government, values, culture and the arts.  Under Burns’ legislation, the King James Bible would be designated as the primary text for those courses.  SB 1161 also directs other texts for the courses may be a parallel translation Bible or multi-translation Bible that uses more than one translation for side-by-side comparison chosen by the school district.  Preference would be given to those translations that exist in the public domain.  Any additional resources used would be subject to all applicable copyright laws.

While existing law requires teachers for such courses to be certified in social studies or literature, SB 1161 would allow school districts to choose an ordained or licensed member of the clergy to teach the courses, as long as they teach as a non-compensated volunteer.

For more information, contact Sen. George Burns at 405-521-5614 or email