The South Dakota House approved a measure on Wednesday to put an academic study of the Bible back in the state's public schools.
The non-binding resolution, HCR 1004, passed the House 55-13. The measure holds no force of law, but only encourages school districts to add Bible courses.
Supporters say students should be aware of the role the Bible has played in the development of literature, art, culture, and public discourse.
Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Sioux Falls, who is also a pastor, told the Rapid City Journal it was important to give students the chance to study the Bible in a "non-devotional way" because of its cultural significance.
There is no state law that would prevent the academic study of the Bible or other religious books in public schools.
"I think it's appropriate under this resolution to give kids the opportunity to understand, historically, who God is," Rep. Shawn Tornow, R-Sioux Falls, said.
Critics say the measure promotes religious beliefs and violates the separation of church and state.
The resolution now heads to the South Dakota State Senate.