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Religious freedom codified into bill

Published 9:53am Wednesday, January 22, 2014

FRANKLIN—When Edna King brought up a new Virginia senate bill codifying religious viewpoint expression to the Franklin City Public School Board on Thursday, she didn’t know it would pass so quickly.

But the bill, SB 236, was before the Senate Tuesday, and it passed 20-18. Locally, Sen. John Cosgrove (R-14) voted in favor of it, while Sen L. Louise Lucas (D-18) was one of the nays.

Sen. Charles W. Carrico (R-40), who was the chief patron of the bill, said one thing that the bill will help is enabling public schools to avoid lawsuits.

“It is codifying a constitutional sound policy in the area of law that otherwise would have pitfalls,” he said. “It takes administrators out of the middle. It allows students to speak freely when given assignments, and express their views more comfortably.”

The law codifies expression in speech, what they wear/create and also student organizations.

Regarding speech, when a student is given an opportunity to publicly speak, such as at a football game or at graduation, it prohibits school administrators from censoring what they might say in regards to religion, Carrico said.

It would also apply to assignments, he said.

“If you were asked to do some type of painting, the art teacher could not prohibit you from doing a picture of Calvary with three crosses — because that is you expressing yourself,” Carrico said.

It also further codifies an earlier bill regarding religious wear.

“If a student wants to wear a necklace with a cross, or a T-shirt, the school is not to prohibit it, as long as it is not obscene,” Carrico said. “It is their effort to express their beliefs.”

He also talked about how the bill, if turned to law, would help with student organizations.

“If school divisions have Beta clubs, or all others, then they cannot discriminate against a religious club that has been formed by the students,” Carrico said. “They should have equal opportunities. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, for example, would have the right to meet on school grounds, just like other clubs do.”

King said the bill might impact the dress code at Franklin City Public Schools, but she didn’t see that as a problem as long as they were kept aware of what becomes law.

“If it puts an emphasis on Christianity back into our schools, then I am all for it,” she said. “I do believe, as a Christian, and I speak for only myself, that emphasis is a good thing.”

  • Second Opinion

    There is already current Virginia Code that addresses is subject:
    § 22.1-203.1. Student-initiated prayer; student-organized activities. And, § 22.1-203.3. Student religious viewpoint expression.

    The full version of the passed Senate Bill to amend can be read here on the state site. Read it fully to discover its real or implied intent.


    very good read.

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  • Sinoptik

    “If it puts an emphasis on Christianity back into our schools, then I am all for it,” she said.

    Well it’s not about religious freedom to her after all then, is it?

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  • DR

    Matthew 6:6 ESV
    But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    I suspect that a non Christian is more likely to encounter discrimination than a Christian in our country. We need to be careful in assuming that because we were lucky enough to be born in the one true religion, that we need to force our beliefs onto others who believe differently.

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    • Second Opinion

      Discrimination is the prism that breaks up the light within ones soul to show the true colors of ones motives.

      The level of discrimination on any matter is inversely proportional to the rate of loss of ignorance on that being interacted with.

      If a core understanding lies within a sphere of observations, how could any observer lay claim to the only one true view regardless of position. The wisdom of truth is had by shared observations.

      The one main thing of any interpretation of law is the intent of the language. Time and place are crucial to any freedom practiced. Just as one is free to partake in scholastic sport of baseball, the cafeteria table top is not the playing field. Intent, time and place are key.

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      • simplifyingit

        So, what you’re saying here is……..this one time you were driving towards purple is your favorite sofa?? If, so I agree!
        Schizophrenia exemplified!! WTF????

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    • MyHometown

      You may have quoted the scripture correctly but you did not present it in its proper context. This scripture does not suggest that your relationship with Christ should be hidden. It speaks to those that use public displays of their faith to draw attention to themselves. Jesus was explaining here that prayer should be a personal experience, reflecting a personal relationship with the Father, rather than a public display for attention. The great commission can not be carried out by keeping your faith hidden from public view.

      “I suspect that a non Christian is more likely to encounter discrimination than a Christian in our country.” I would beg to differ if you look at the other responses to this article. Christianity has been under attack since its beginnings. Despite her “real” or implied intentions, Edna King has attempted to make sure that a student is not punished or barred from expressing their faith I the public school system. This bill does not give anyone the right to start preaching in the school. However, if they are invited to participate in a talent show and choose to deliver a Christian message during their allotted time, they will now be allowed to do so. In today’s society where young people are bombarded by blatant profanity, sexuality, and substance abuse there needs to be some balance and this bill gives families that disagree with the current degradation of our society to have a voice.

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