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Commissioner Susan Palmer ID: LSG-2017-0010

Kentucky Department of Education

Office of the Commissioner of Education

300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor

Frankfort, KY 40601

susan.palmer@education.ky.gov

Sent via: Electronic mail

December 8th, 2017

Re: Proposed Bible Literacy Standards

Commissioner Susan Palmer,

I am sending you this letter out of extreme concern over the Kentucky Department of Education’s
proposed standards on teaching the bible in public educational institutions. If appears as if the Kentucky
Department of Education did seek feedback on its proposed Bible Literacy Standards after the State of
Kentucky recently passed a H.B. 128 in which allowed the bible to be taught in public schools. I believe
that H.B. 128 in which was passed by the legislature of the State of Kentucky is unconstitutional by
specifically violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States. That is because I
believe that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States mandates that public
educational institutions may not advance, prefer, or promote religion. See Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577
(1992); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985); and Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1967).

With regarding and pertaining to bible let’s say bible distribution in public educational institutions, I
believe that activity is already well known to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the
Constitution of the United States. I believe that it is unconstitutional for public educational institutions
to allow groups to distribute bibles in classrooms during the school day. To my knowledge, federal
courts of the United States have a procedural history of declaring that distribution of bibles to students
at public educational institutions are prohibited. This means that individuals are now allowed to pass out
bibles inside a classroom or on the grounds of a public educational institution during instructional time.
Public school officials, such as teachers and principles, are not allowed to engage in bible distribution at
public educational institutions. For instance, I believe that allowing government schools officials to
engage in that activity would appear to a reasonable person as a government endorsement of religion.
Government endorsement of religion, with regard and pertaining to public educational institutions, do
infringe on parental rights to direct the religious, or non-religious, upbringing of their own children. See
Berger v. Rensselaer Central Sch. Corp., 982 F.2d 1160 (7th Cir. 1993); and Tudor v. Board of Education
of Rutherford, 14 J.N. 31 (1953), cert. denied 348 U.S. 816 (1954). To clearly teaching the bible in public
educational institutions during instructional time has to be unconstitutional.

Sadly, their does not appear to be any standards that will help promote and ensure that there are
safeguards to protect students the rights of students from religious indoctrination or religious coercion
during instructional time. For instance, there are concerns that some public educational institutions
would justify taking their students to the Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter in Grant County, Kentucky pursuant
to H.B 128. I do hope that you understand that there is no standard that the Kentucky Department of
Education or that any public educational institution would be able to use that would justify that religious
field trip. Any public educational institution that does take their students to the ark park would be
exposing their students to deliberate proselytization, which would be violating the rights of the
students.

In conclusion, I hope that you know I am in extreme opposition to the Kentucky Department of
Education’s proposed standards on teaching the bible in public educational institutions. I believe that
religious activities belong in the church and not in or with the government. I surely hope that the
Kentucky Department of Education will be in compliance with the Establishment Clause of the
Constitution of the United States and that the Kentucky Department of Education will not allow politics
or political influence to be allowed to deteriorate well-established law from being abided by or the
separation of the church and the state. I cannot make any suggestions on how to abide by H.B. 128 due
to it being unconstitutional in my opinion.

Respectfully,

Isaiah X. Smith1

1
www.isaiahxsmith.com