Prayer in Schools Could Soon Return After State Senate Passes Bold New Legislation
Texas schools could again be looking to the Bible to help instruct and nurture its young students — but not everyone is thrilled with this possible development.
Multiple local outlets, such as KDFW and The Dallas Morning News, are reporting that the Texas Senate has pushed a pair of bills through that would reinvigorate religious teachings in Texas schools.
SB 1515 and SB 1396 both passed the Senate, and now head to the Texas House for future consideration.
That development alone has triggered some anti-religion watchdog groups who are blasting this move as a violation of the separation of church and state — and complaining that these bills put an undue emphasis on Christianity over other religious beliefs.
SB 1396 effectively seeks to institute a designated prayer/Bible study time for students.
Despite the consternation over the bill, SB 1396 very clearly states that “that the student or employee has a choice as to whether to participate in the period of prayer and Bible reading.”
More so, the Bill also hardly makes prayer and Bible study a requirement.
Indeed, SB 1396 says that school boards will be able to vote to “adopt a policy requiring every campus of the district or school to provide students and employees with an opportunity to participate in a period of prayer and Bible reading on each school day.”
Again, that bill is very clearly trying to just put the option of prayer time/Bible study time back into Texas schools, not outright mandating it.
SB 1515, meanwhile, aims to put a poster of the Ten Commandments in every school in the state.
“A public elementary or secondary school shall display in a conspicuous place in each classroom of the school a durable poster or framed copy of the Ten Commandments,” the bill states.
Between wanting to promote the Ten Commandments and offering prayer time/Bible study time, it’s little surprise that anti-religious watchdog groups are up in arms about the bills making it to the Texas House.
“When you’re specifically putting something like the Ten Commandments up on a classroom for all students to see, that’s incredibly dangerous because in a state as big as Texas, right, we have people of all kinds of faith,” said Rocio Fierro-Perez, a member of state watchdog group Texas Freedom Network.
Cantor Sheri Allen, of Fort Worth’s Makom Shelanu Congregation, told The Dallas Morning News that these bills would ostracize any non-Christian children.
“It’s telling a kid, ‘My version of what my religion looks like is better than yours. It’s endorsed by schools, which makes yours inferior,’” Allen said. “It shifts this balance of respect and equality and equity, making one religion dominant over others. It’s not supposed to be the way this country works.”
Those concerns don’t seem to be weighing very heavily on the mind of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
“I believe that you cannot change the culture of the country until you change the culture of mankind,” Patrick, who oversees the Texas Senate, said, per the Morning News, before explaining that these new bills will help “change the culture of mankind.”
“Bringing the Ten Commandments and prayer back to our public schools will enable our students to become better Texans.”
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