Tennessee Legislature Tells Schools It’s OK for Kids To Talk About Religion

Several school districts in Tennessee have been sued by the ACLU over showing preferential treatment toward Christianity. Credit: michael_swan via Flickr

Several school districts in Tennessee have been sued by the ACLU over showing preferential treatment toward Christianity. Credit: michael_swan via Flickr

Tennessee lawmakers say teachers and principals need to know it’s alright to talk about religion in school. While federal law already permits it, legislators are working on a proposal to confirm what’s allowed.

Some legislators have seen what they consider to be an overreaction. Rep. John DeBerry – a Democrat from Memphis – gives the example of a girl who was assigned to write about someone she looked up to.

“She could write about Michael Jackson. But she couldn’t write about Jesus Christ as someone that she admired. The schools have gone so far as to protect those that don’t believe at the expense of those that do.”

The bill also specifically allows students to form prayer groups and religious clubs. And school districts would have to adopt policies on handling prayers at events like graduations, with a required disclaimer stating that the school district does not endorse a student’s speech.

The state’s school boards favor the bill since it clarifies federal law. A few legislators were bothered that the proposal affirms religions of all kinds, not just Christianity, but it easily passed out of a House subcommittee Tuesday.

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