Senate Bill 42 (Permitting faith-based electives in classroom drug prevention programs) is a two sentence change to the existing code. The first sentence allows faith-based electives in drug prevention programs from kindergarten through 12th grade. The second sentence requires the State Board to implement this in a way that is consistent with the Constitution. 

The bill may as well say "Pigs are permitted to fly. The State Board will figure out how."

The government (and that includes public schools) cannot promote or show a preference for any religion or religious belief. A faith-based curriculum is, well, based in a particular faith. A school who is offering that course is promoting that faith. This is not fixed by making it an elective either - the end result is still a school official promoting a specific religion or religious belief.

The school doesn't just open itself up to suit for proselytzing; it also risks accusations of religious discrimination, too. If more than one faith-based program wanted to teach an elective, the school would have to show that religious preference was not a reason one program was chosen over the other. 

In short, the first sentence says schools are allowed to do something that the Constitution says they are not allowed to do. The second sentence says the State Board of education has to solve this paradox. (Spolier alert: They can't.)

None of this is to say that faith-based recovery and prevention programs can't be good things. Our schools just aren't the place for them. 

And our tax dollars should not support promotion of religous beliefs.

 

Sponsors

Maynard, Cline

Status

Passed Senate

Session

2020

Bill number

Position

Oppose

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