Among the reasons Herron was inspired to sponsor the bill is he's had citizens complain to him for years that “they’ve taken God out of our schools,” which is not exactly an academic or a scholarly complaint (not to mention an implied denial of God's omnipresence).
One of the bill's provisions prohibits the "teaching of religious doctrine or sectarian interpretation of the Bible or of texts from other religious or cultural traditions."
Breaking through that series of disjunctions, we get a prohibition on the teaching of texts from other cultural traditions. Even if it means the prohibition is against sectarian interpretation of texts from other cultural traditions, the same problem inheres, as I see it.
Because that apparently means the course can only be designed to study the Bible and the Bible's influence, but not the Bible's own folkloric antecedents. I don't know whether that's constitutionally problematic, but it's certainly problematic as a question of scholarship.
What this bill allows is for Tennessee public school teachers to, for example, discuss the creation and flood myths in the Book of Genesis but doesn't allow them to discuss the earlier Sumerian mythology — an "other cultural tradition" — upon which Genesis is based, as if the Bible just appeared out of nowhere.
That's almost laughable, and probably has poor old E.A. Speiser spinning in his grave. I'm all for teaching a course on the Bible but if it's truly not just a vehicle for proselytizing or furthering our own American "Christian Nation" myth, then it should be comprehensive.
Laws like this may be challenged on constitutional grounds in two ways: on the face of their language, or "as applied," that is, as implemented. According to Tennessee's Attorney General, the bill's language is constitutional on its face, but obviously it remains to be seen what manner of zealots end up
And on the eighth day, litigation ensued. (Gen. 2:3.5)
h/t Religion Clause (which is where all the links are at).