Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Prayer in VA Schools

This affects me less than most people as I was homeschooled. But there is a bill in the VA senate that would allow prayer in the schools. It would not establish a specific prayer or religion but it would allow Christians to openly practice their religion on school and other State facilities. Here's the article from the Washington Times:
Delegate Charles W. Carrico Sr. said the amendment is needed because there is a growing effort to silence Christians.
"I'm tired of hearing when you walk into a school you cannot profess your beliefs because you may offend someone else," the Grayson Republican said.
Funny that you never hear about Christians complaining that they have been offended by someone's lewd tshirt or profanity that uses God's name. Nope, that is protected as freedom of expression. The article goes on:
The Rev. C. Douglas Smith, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, said the amendment is not a "prayer issue or religious issue," and said he believes it is unconstitutional. "There is no question in anyone's mind there are volumes of case law that would render this null and void immediately," Mr. Smith said. "It puts at risk the constitution's hundreds of years of history which have sought to protect religious freedoms."
Well he's right in one sense, this kind of amendment should never have been needed.
"Clearly, with all its freedom-of-religion and First Amendment implications, this belongs before the Courts Committee," Mr. Stolle said.
Backers of the amendment said they're hopeful, but critics predict it will be difficult to get the amendment out of a Senate committee that historically has been unwilling to tinker with the state's Bill of Rights. With no companion bill in the Senate, a defeat before Mr. Stolle's committee early next week would kill the measure.
Mr. Carrico said he was disappointed his amendment was not heard yesterday, but said he has "faith" it will pass.
"It has just as good a chance there as anywhere else," he told reporters.
Mr. Smith said he believes the amendment will be found unconstitutional in that committee, since "some of the Senate's best legal minds" are members.
Ok I want to know what legal minds believe that oppressing one person's religious practices preserves another's religious freedom. Freedom of religion laws were created so that nobody would be persecuted by living their faith in whatever walk of life they choose. Bill Janis of Goochland agrees:
"You shouldn't have to check your deeply held beliefs at the door of the courthouse, at the door of the Statehouse or at the door of the schoolhouse," said Delegate Bill Janis, Goochland Republican.

I do not know if this measure will pass, at this point it's anybody's guess if it will get out of committee. But I think it has a good chance as long as it is articulated properly. If it is shown that prayer is not restricted or required by this bill, only allowed, then it has a good chance of at least making it to a vote.