News Column

Okla. House Passes Religious Speech Bill

Mar 13 2013 10:00PM

Randy Krehbiel

Citing the prophet Elijah and the priests of Baal, Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, persuaded his Oklahoma House of Representatives colleagues to pass a bill Thursday morning he said guarantees the right of school students to talk about God and other religious subjects at school.

Bennett acknowledged House Bill merely codifies rights already guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions and by Supreme Court decisions, but said it is necessary because many school administrators are unclear about permissible policy.

The law would allow references to religion under "appropriate" circumstances determined by the school.

Opponents said they were concerned additional law on the subject will actually lead to more lawsuits and open the door for "demonics, Muslims and Buddha."

Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Chouteau, said the bill is really a thinly disguised attack on a non-existent "urban legend" that there is an "anti-God, anti-Christian atmosphere pervading public education."

But Bennett and his supporters seemed to be in at least partial disagreement.

"We are a Christian nation, maybe not formally, but we are a Christian nation," said Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, debating in favor of the bill.

HB 1940 passed 79-13. It now goes to the Senate.

Source: (c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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