Religious Expression in Public Schools
Religion is a significant part of our culture. It is too bad that many have taken the "freedom of religion" clause and contorted it into a "freedom from religion" clause. I support freedom of religious expression in the public--including public schools. But I don't support current legislation in the Utah Senate that wants to protect that freedom. Here's why...
Sometime back I wrote a post stating my preference that prayer be allowed and encouraged in public school settings. I also support freedom of religious expression in public schools. A better cultural exchange I can hardly think of. Wearing of hats and t-shirts with religious emblems, passing out flyers inviting others to religious events, and religious groups using public school facilities during non-school hours are all implementations of this free expression.
The Supreme Court has clearly defined that religious expression is allowed in public schools. It's ironic, then, that there occurs the occasional attempt to ban such expression. I'm sure the ACLU and others in their traveling caravan are not content with the current state of religious liberty in America. But compared to the French, who have banned religious symbols in public schools, the United States is in pretty good shape when it comes to religious expression.
Because of the existing Supreme Court decision, I don't support Senator Chris Buttars' legislation pending in the Utah legislature, which would protect religious freedom in Utah. Interestingly, Section 63-90c-103 of the proposed new law would read (in part):
(1) Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state under the
Utah Constitution Article I, Section 4, even if laws, rules, ordinances, or other government actions are facially neutral.
I'm pretty sure, in the absence of this bill becoming a law, that a 100% majority of the Utah Supreme Court would agree with this statement. So...religious freedom in Utah is already protected.
Where is the motivation for this bill?
I know of a young man who was sent home from school because he had a CTR shirt on," says Buttars. "That's terrible."
I agree that it's terrible. But it's already illegal.