Bill's proviso on religion decried

I found this very interesting little article in our local Tulsa World today.

Bill’s proviso on religion decried

By MICK HINTON World Capitol Bureau
5/13/2008
Last Modified: 5/13/2008 3:11 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY — Resurrected legislation to allow students to express their religious viewpoints in public schools without fear of retribution succeeded in the House on Monday.

However, a couple of lawmakers debated whether state Superintendent Sandy Garrett supports it.

A controversial provision in House Bill 2633 states that “students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.”

The bill’s author, Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, asserted that in a lengthy phone conversation, Garrett “assured me that she was in favor of it.”

Based on a comment made below the article I went searching and found this from the Senate’s site. The TW article does not match up with the Senate’s article in regard to who authored the bill, interestingly enough. Senate’s article is below in the next post.

From above

Religious Viewpoints Legislation Passes Senate

Senator James A. Williamson’s “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act” passed the Senate today as an amendment to House Bill 2633.

Williamson’s amendment provides protection to students who voluntarily express their religious views at school.

The amendment reads, “Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, ‘see you at the pole’ gatherings, or other religious gatherings before, during, and after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities and groups.”

Through this legislation, religious groups are also given the same rights to school facilities for the assembling of or advertising of their organization, as other non-curricular groups receive. Students are also free from discrimination when expressing their religious beliefs in homework and artwork in addition to other written and oral assignments.

Williamson applauded the passage of this amendment and is encouraged by its positive provisions.

“We live in a country founded on religious freedom,” said Williamson. “This legislation is a step forward in protecting the rights our students have in expressing their religious views at school. A student or group of students can no longer be discriminated based upon the content of their religious expression, which is the right our forefathers gave us all.”

Thoughts anyone?

If the actual wording is, “Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, ‘see you at the pole’ gatherings, or other religious gatherings before, during, and after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities and groups.”, this doesn’t seem to add any protection that doesn’t already exist. For all of the things talked about, the current legal precedents are that the students have the right to do these things. So, what do I think? I think its either a cheap political stunt, or an attempt to let selected religious groups evangelize by claiming that it’s the same as the soccer team recruiting new players.

C’mon, the guy is running for re-election, and a bill in which he boldly stands up for enforcing the Constitution (which is already being enforced by the ACLU and the Justice department) is cynical, but practical politics.

It’s a way to rally the faithful, who (as evidenced here) generally don’t know all that is already legal and being done daily in public schools.

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