At midnight Tuesday, a Senate-passed bill requiring a version of the Ten Commandments to be hung in every classroom in the state failed to get a House vote in time and died.
The Texas bill would require the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms
Following the Coach ruling, the Senate also passed a bill that would allow districts to require schools to set aside time for staff and students to pray and read religious texts. . Those two bills failed to make it out of House committees Wednesday and are not expected to come up again this session.
Groups that monitor church-state issues say nationwide efforts to fund and empower religion — and, more specifically, a certain type of Christianity — are greater and stronger than they have been in years. Americans are united for separation of church and state It says it is looking at 1,600 bills across the country States like Louisiana and Missouri. Earlier this year, Idaho and Kentucky signed legislation allowing teachers and public school employees to pray in front of and with students while at work.
“Religious freedom means that parents — not school officials or state legislatures — have the right to direct their children’s religious education. Families should trust that a particular religious viewpoint will not be forced upon their children while attending our public schools. This bill violates the religious freedom of every student and family in Texas,” said Rachel Lazer, president and CEO of Americans United.
Earlier this month, the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Cole Hefner (R), in a House debate, said the legislation is not about suppressing religion.
“Schools should be given all the tools; “It’s another tool in everything we’re going through with mental health issues, other crises,” he said.
A half-dozen Democratic lawmakers have asked Hefner to amend the bill, saying, among other things, that it does not provide protections for religious diversity.
Hefner and the majority rejected almost all of the amendments, including one requiring parental consent and another requiring religious leaders to serve students of all faiths and not proselytize.
They rejected the bill’s requirement that every school district in Texas vote within six months on whether or not to have chaplains. The sponsor said it was unnecessarily provocative and divisive at a time when school board members needed protection in some places, and because of the sharp division over issues that often had religious elements.
Rep. James Dalarico (D), a seminary student, proposed adding a requirement that hospitals and chaplains in the military seek accreditation. Hefner initially included that amendment, but the Senate rejected the requirement.
Talarico proposed requiring parental consent. Hefner and the majority rejected it. Another lawmaker said chaplains should serve all religions and not proselytize. Rejected. Another proposed opposing the bill’s requirement that every school district in Texas must have clergy within six months or vote down.
On the House floor on Tuesday, Hefner responded to Dalarico’s complaint that people with no educational or professional needs and training could access students in public schools.
“I believe our school districts will describe whatever qualifications they need,” Hefner said.
Dalarico noted that Hefner and the majority rejected amendments that would have respected secularists imposing their beliefs on students and the free exercise of religion.
“Should we encourage penetration in our schools?” Talarico asked Hefner.
“Here’s what I really think. I think it’s ridiculous for members here to defend some inappropriate drag shows in our schools and inappropriate things in our libraries and then pretend that this is a problem.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State said it knew of no other bills with chaplains replacing guidance counselors.