Indiana Legislature Passes School Prayer Bill that Opens Pandora’s Box
Christian News Network writer Heather Clark reports on a bill that recently passed in the Indiana House that could have all kinds of unintended consequences. She summarizes HB 1024 as follows:
“Public school students may pray or engage in religious activities or religious expressions before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression,” it reads in part.
The bill also instructs schools to create a limited public forum at school events so that students who voluntarily speak about their faith may do so freely and without obstruction.
“To ensure that a school corporation does not discriminate against a student’s publicly stated voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, and to eliminate any actual or perceived affirmative school sponsorship or attribution to the school corporation of a student’s expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, a school corporation or charter school shall adopt a policy, which must include the establishment of a limited public forum for student speakers at all school events at which a student is to publicly speak,” it outlines.
The legislation additionally outlines that students are to be permitted to wear religious symbols or slogans on their clothes or jewelry, and must not be discriminated against for including religious themes in their school assignments.
Those supporting the bill believe that schools are currently advocating an anti-Christian agenda, one that is presumably promoted by LGBT loving Democrats:
As the legislation was discussed this week by the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, student Mary Zakrajsek shared how her pro-life poster had been removed from the walls of Carmel High School while other messages were allowed to be posted.
“When I walk down the hallway, and I see rainbow pride flags and Democrat donkeys, I think that’s pretty clear evidence of ideology that is promoted in public school systems. It became clear that it was our [pro-life] club in particular that was being discriminated against,” she testified, according to the Herald Bulletin.
Among those testifying in favor of the bill was David W. Greene, Sr., president of the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, who asserted that prayer “…can help reduce moral decay among youth.”
“I believe that school prayer may cause students to acknowledge a power greater than themselves, on which they can rely for comfort and help in times of trouble,” he stated. “This will lead to decreased reliance on drugs, alcohol, sex and dangerous amusements.”
Ms. Clark reported that the ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk spoke against the bill, noting some unintended consequences:
“By creating what is called an open forum, that means that schools can’t control what the kids say … if someone stands up at his or her graduation and gives a talk concerning why slavery never should been abolished.. this bill says is that the schools cannot control that speech. I don’t think people realize what sort of control schools are surrendering. Once they try to exercise that control by saying, ‘You can have this kind of speech but you can’t have that kind of speech,’ that’s when the constitutional problem arises”
The comment section indicated that many readers saw other unintended consequences in this bill, noting that Satanic cults, Muslim garb, and any and all forms of clothing worn under the banner of “religious expression” would be permitted. But it appears from the 83-12 vote in favor of this bill that the Indiana legislators are thinking this will only apply to Christians… As the last commenter wrote: “It will be fun”… but as a former school Principal who dealt with dress code issues and Superintendent who was sued over the Pledge of Allegiance I can assure readers it will NOT be fun for the first school or district that has to deal with a dissident parent.