Religious Expression Bill Introduced, Critics Say Measure Unnecessary
Legislation filed by a GOP state senator aims to address controversies like the one that arose in Johnson County last year when a school production of A Charlie Brown Christmas had the Bible verses removed after a complaint was received.
It's not the first time London Republican Albert Robinson has advanced some version of Senate Bill 15, but he says the Charlie Brown Christmas example shows why Kentucky should provide schools with firmer legal ground to stand on when challenged by the civil liberties groups.
Included in SB15 are guarantees that students be able to express religious or political opinions in school assignments without discrimination as well as language granting school boards the ability to "sponsor artistic or theatrical programs that advance students’ knowledge of society’s cultural and religious heritage."
Robinson contends the measure only collects and codifies rights already supplied by the state and federal Constitutions.
Asked if it would apply equally to schools wishing to present plays containing scripture from the Torah or the Qur'an, Robinson said, "If they want to celebrate Mohammad or some of these other people, I don't agree with it, but they do have a right to do that and I'm not one that should try to stop them."
Amber Duke with the ACLU tells the Lexington Herald-Leader the organization takes no issue with students' religious expression in school - only school officials' endorsement of one religion over non-religion or other faiths. She called the measure a "solution in search of a problem."