The Students Religious Liberties Bill has been approved by an Alabama House committee. The bill would allow student initiated prayer in school and would prohibit school districts from discriminating against a student or parent because of a religious viewpoint or religious expression, WSFA News reports.
Representative Mack Butler (R- Rainbow City) said: "There's a lot of hostility or animosity towards Christianity when we know our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values.” “This is not preference to any particular religion, but students will be able to freely express their religious viewpoints in artwork and course work and then at school, if the SGA president has the microphone or the valedictorian, and they want to pray, student initiated prayer is 100 percent guaranteed by the Constitution."
Chairwoman of the Committee, Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur) explained that the legislation is necessary in order to protect student rights that have been disregarded “because of what officials feared they could or could not do,” as reported by Decatur Daily. Collins also added: “(Students) have religious freedoms, they have the same freedoms as adults, but because they’re in a school environment, under supervision, sometimes there’s a caution that’s built in.” “We want them to be able to express themselves as they want, whether it’s in a project, or whatever. It is about letting them have the same freedoms we all do.”
Freedom of religious expression is already an American right but this bill would require school districts to create policies to ensure that right, WSFA News reports.
The Students Religious Liberties Bill is a top priority for the GOP and could be voted on as early as next week.
Also this month, Nevada has introduced Assembly Bill No. 120, which would allow students to participate in prayer during class. The American Civil Liberties Union is urging people to oppose the bill which it claims is “unnecessary and unconstitutional,” as reported by the ACLU of Nevada. The ACLU argues that Students’ rights to pray are already protected under existing law including the First Amendment and the Nevada Constitution.