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New religion mandate in Texas Schools

Published October 16th, 2007 by Bobby Henderson

The state of Texas has passed a law to ostensibly protect students who express their personal religious views while at school.

Critics have pointed out that the first amendment already covers this.

From the Houston Chronicle:

The new law’s supporters say it will protect students who, for example, write about their faith in homework, distribute religious items to other students and even wish our troops overseas “Merry Christmas.” Yet courts have consistently reined in the few overzealous school officials who have improperly restricted such activities.

After all, the First Amendment clearly protects the right to religious expression for all, including students. But what binds our diverse nation together is the principle that the government should never be used to favor one faith over all others. The First Amendment protects that principle. This new law weakens it.

The law mandates that schools turn public events, such as morning announcements and football games, into so-called “limited public forums.” Student speakers are then permitted to use those events to promote their own religious beliefs or even attempt to convert their fellow students.

I’m skeptical of this law, and any law that claims to provide MORE freedoms. It doesn’t seem to work that way.

The principle at stake is not hard to understand. One member of Houston’s legislative delegation has already demonstrated it.

During the last legislative session, Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston walked off the Senate floor when a Muslim imam opened the day with a prayer. A Christian, Patrick claimed his presence would have implied an endorsement of religious beliefs he does not share.

Students, on the other hand, cannot leave a school function at which their presence is required. If a speaker uses a school event to evangelize, the school will not be a neutral actor. It will be forcing all students to participate in a function that promotes religious views they and their families may not share.

Consider some scenarios. When a Wiccan student council president closes morning announcements each day with a prayer to the Mother Goddess, will Christian families object? What happens when the captain of the football team decides to use his pep rally speech to mock the faith of opposing players and, potentially, the faith of some students in his own school? Under this law, the hands of school officials are tied.

I’m curious what would happen. What would they do? Their hands may be tied, but I doubt that would stop them from exerting pressure. It will be interesting to see it play out. For now we can be optimistic and hope that this will allow more free expression of Pastafarianism.

The Chronicle article is very good and can be found here.



56 Responses to “New religion mandate in Texas Schools”

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  1. Iron Bess says:

    @Wench Cyka – I love how the states is suppose to be all about freedom and rights. But really, what it means is, as long as you think, believe and say what I want you to say, you have all the freedom you want.
    .
    Do you think it is the influence of the xian right wing nut bars?

  2. Len Guini says:

    Another hreat example of “seperation of church and state as long as that church is not Christian” is President Bush’s Faith Based Initiative. Completely unconstitutional, yet because the program gives most of its cash to Christian churches, it’s overlooked by the government.

  3. Len Guini says:

    “Another hreat example of “seperation of church and state as long as that church is not Christian” is President Bush’s Faith Based Initiative. Completely unconstitutional, yet because the program gives most of its cash to Christian churches, it’s overlooked by the government.”
    .
    Hmmm, someone got on Len’s computer. I did not type that.

  4. Len Guini says:

    I do agree with it, though

  5. Starbuckaneer says:

    At least Pastafarian Orthodox kids won’t get in trouble for wearing their Pirate Regalia to class anymore…

  6. Swedish Meatball says:

    4Christsake:
    “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile.”

    Two things:
    First, why would there even be a blind squirrel? If it’s born like that, it has no chance of surviving.
    If it gets blind later, it’s probably old, thus it’s bound to die sooner or later.
    But if it’s a middle aged squirrel, why would it go blind? Atomic bombs?

    Secondly: natural selection/survival of the fittest, a blind animal isn’t fit to survive, because of it’s disability.

    Now that I think about, that’s kinda what I said in both my things… But, the things are separated by the level of comedy therein! Victory is mine!

  7. dick mclargin says:

    rofl fail.

  8. wedding cake toppers says:

    Good Examine and fascinating. Appreciate you taking the time in sharing these particulars. Thanks.

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