Well floor debate on the biggest Texas state-level school prayer bill in
years was just postponed in the House, until Monday at 10am. House Bill 3678
is a huge bill that specifies all kinds of situations where religious
expression must be allowed in public schools, at all functions imaginable.
It's huge! It's just a big bill, that's all I'm sayin'.
I'm following this debate and calling representatives and letting them know
of the problems with this bill. I'm happy to say that there has already been
lots of opposition to some of the finer points of this bill heard on the
House floor. Rep. Scott Hochberg of Houston started off by using examples of
religions we don't hear from much, as being disallowed by this legislation.
He said "What if I'm a member of the church of Scott, and I'm a student, and
I want to get up and proclaim that the Church of Scott is best, and that
there is no god, and that anyone who thinks there's a god is wrong. Would
this legislation give the school the right to disallow that kind of talk,
deciding on the validity of the religion in question? The answer was yes.
For all their talk about how religious discrimination is wrong, they all
made it clear that not all religions will be covered by this bill. Anything
that is found offensive by the individual school principal can be
disallowed, under this bill. That pretty much eliminates a lot of the
potential challenges to the bill, in a sweeping and *discriminatory* way.
There's that word again...lol
The entire text of the House Bill as it is now can be found here:
Two amendments have been voted on, and it wasn't exactly made clear which
There was some really odd voting machine problems, which led to vote
re-counts and strong feelings about the propriety of doing that. (Doesn't it
fill us voters with confidence in voting machines when our own elected
officials are apparently repeatedly running into technical problems with
their House voting machines?)
One of my favorite Reps. is Rep. Donna Howard from Austin, and she made the
immediate statement that provisions of a law that body passed in 1995 or so,
covered all religious expression in public schools, and covered it well.
Rep. Howard was not impressed.
Folks I'm asking everyone who cares about public schools being neutral
towards religion to contact your House representatives and ask them to vote
no on the bill. The amendments won't cure the basic problem of dumping onto
individual schools the responsibility for figuring out the exact limits of
the law, instead of just using a common sense attitude that any religious
expression is problematic at the least, and should be avoided. The fact is,
religious speech is special speech, unlike any other kind. It's offensive to
some, and that's enough, in my opinion, to not push it on public school
If it takes people like Rev. Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson to remind
legislators that some religious speech is offensive, that's fine with me. Of
course, if this passes, there will probably be some rather interesting
lawsuits over it.
Texas State Director
"I don't care if I make mistakes, as long as I'm still trying!" Madalyn
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