Gov. Rick Perry today, joined by state legislators and Texas families, stood in support of House Bill 3678, the Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act. The bill, authored by Rep. Charlie Howard, does not expand religious expression in schools, but reiterates a student's existing right to expression. The bill offers clarity for teachers and administrators who may be confused about what religious rhetoric is permitted.
"Freedom of religion should not be mistaken for freedom from religion. It is one thing to prevent government from sponsoring or endorsing a particular religious view. It is quite another for government to sanitize all dialogue from religious viewpoints in a public setting," said Gov. Perry. "The constitution prohibits the former, but was never meant to prohibit the latter."
The United States Supreme Court holds religious discussion in schools legal. However, some schools have found to be misapplying the law and restricting legal expression. In an effort to promote a neutral learning environment, some schools are unintentionally suppressing religious expression.
Isolated instances in Texas public schools led to the creation of HB 3678. In one case, a school prohibited students from wishing troops serving overseas a "Merry Christmas." Another school reprimanded a first grader for invoking the name and image of Jesus when she was asked what she thinks of when she thinks of Easter.
"We don't need to shield our children from religious expression and allow them to only be exposed to the religion of secularism in our schools," said Gov. Perry. "Discussion does not lead to indoctrination. Rather, it leads to open-mindedness and personal and educational betterment."