Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tennessee Law Lets Teachers Pray with Students

The Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act (HB 3616 or SB3632), which passed the legislature with only one dissenting vote, will allow faculty and staff to participate, at school, in religious activity initiated by students.

The law is virtually identical to the 2007 Texas law.

For background, read Tennessee Teachers' Bowing Heads Verboten and also read Tennessee Teachers Forbidden Private Christian Lives as well as Prayer Ban Increases Prayer at School Football Game plus also read Jesus' Name Heard at School, Atheists Sue

-- From "Bill would allow teachers to pray with students" by Lucas L. Johnson II, Associated Press 3/22/12

Sponsors of the bill brought it in part to support “See You at the Pole” gatherings, where students and their parents gather at school flag poles to pray.

The measure was approved 29-1 [in the Senate]. The companion bill unanimously passed the House 93-0 earlier this month. Before it can go to the governor, the measure must go back to the House to approve an amendment that was added.

The legislation allows school personnel to participate in such activities as long as they don’t carry into the classroom or conflict with the assignments of the participant.

The activities must also be student-initiated and be held before or after school. The amendment clarifies that teachers can attend events in cases where a school may rent out its facilities to a church or faith-based organization.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Bill purports to protect schools when students pray, express faith" by Brian Wilson, The Tennessean 3/22/12

The right of students to pray or make other expressions of faith has long been upheld in the courts. But three Middle Tennessee districts ran afoul of federal law in recent years over allowing parents or outside groups to promote religion on campus.

On its website, the ACLU said [the] bill is neither necessary nor constitutional and would subject students to unwanted proselytizing, prayer and preaching and open districts to violating constitutional guarantees.

The legislation would require school districts to implement a policy to create a "limited public forum" before campus events such as the beginning of a school day or before a football game. Select students would be eligible to speak freely at these forums, including about religion, and the school district would issue a disclaimer before those speeches.

Under the bill, school districts also would require teachers to treat a student's faith-based answers to school assignments the same as secular answers. But while the bill allows faith-based answers, those responses must be justified like any other student's.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Tennessee Christian Refused at Pro-gay-only Lunch Counter as well as Tennessee Struggles for Freedom of Religion - Bullying