The Austin Chronicle

Prayer Back in School?

By Richard Whittaker, August 16, 2007, 8:52am, Newsdesk

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Perry got his ceremonial pen out to sign into law House Bill 3678 a.k.a the Schoolchildren's Religious Liberties Act a.k.a. the Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act. This law, emitted from the pen of Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, and endorsed by the Liberty Legal Institute (sort of a Bible-wielding version of the ACLU), is supposed to protect students in school who have been oppressed because of their religious views. Perry claims that, in search of an intellectual level playing field, schools are "unintentionally suppressing religious expression."

It's supposed to give religious groups the same kind of on-campus free expression as, say, the Chess Club. Except it does a little more than that. According to the bill analysis, it "prohibits students from being penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of their work." So, theoretically, this means that a child who hands in an essay for a science class denying evolution could drag the school and the school district through the courts.

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