The public school system has attacked Christianity for decades.
Christian students have been suppressed, persecuted, and forced to endure anti-religious classes.
But one governor’s recent statement on religious expression has offered hope for the future — and firmly shuts down atheist educators.
Public schools across the country have become increasingly hostile towards Christians, operating under the guise of “separation of church and state.”
But Ohio Governor Mike DeWine just signed into law a new bill that explicitly protects religious students in the state’s public school system!
The Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act passed the Senate with a 32-0 vote and the House with a 90-3 vote.
Sponsored by State Representative Tim Ginter, the bill protects freedom of religious expression, most notably students’ rights to pray in public school contexts and write about their faith in homework assignments.
It’s a huge step for religious freedom!
The Act states that public school students “may engage in religious expression before, during, and after school hours in the same manner and to the same extent [that] a student is permitted to engage in secular activities or expression before, during, and after school hours.”
In other words, Christian students have just as much right to express their faith as unbelieving students have the right to express their unbelief.
This could be a big relief for many Ohio students, and it will offer them many opportunities and options for practicing their faith at school
The Act defines “religious expression” as anything including prayer and “religious gatherings, including but not limited to prayer groups, religious clubs…or other religious gatherings.”
Religious expression also includes the distribution of religious tracts or books and “wearing symbolic clothing or expression of a religious viewpoint, provided that [it] is not obscene, vulgar, offensively lewd, or indecent.”
One of the most important aspects of the new law is the condition that students may express their faith in homework assignments.
The Act prevents school districts and teachers from penalizing a student for “engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments,” and teachers “shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.”
“Grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards.”
This means Ohio’s students will be able to openly discuss their faith in art, literature, and science class without fear of reprisal!
The Ohio House of Representatives explained that the bill is intended to step up protections for religious students and fill in the gaps of current legislation.
“Current law prohibits a school district…from adopting any policy or rule respecting or promoting an establishment of religion or prohibiting any student from the exercise or expression of the student’s religious beliefs,” said a House summary of the new law.
“The [Act] removes a provision…permitting a school district to limit the exercise or expression of a student’s religious beliefs to lunch period or other noninstructional time periods when students are free to associate.”
Conservative lawmakers and faith advocates are excited about Governor DeWine’s decisive step to protect religious freedom in this way.
“No student should have to hide their faith just because they enter a public school,” said Aaron Baer, president of the Christian lobbying organization Citizens for Community Values.
“The Student Religious Liberties Act is carefully crafted to ensure school administrators can’t unfairly penalize students of all faiths, or no faith.”
Baer noted that many liberal organizations opposed the bill, but were shut down by Governor DeWine’s action.
“While the ACLU and [others]…tried to stop this bill and prevent Christian, Jewish, Muslim and all students from having fundamental protections, Ohio lawmakers stood up for the First Amendment and have sent a clear message that [Ohio] respects a diversity of viewpoints.”
“It shouldn’t be controversial to stand for religious freedom,” observed Baer.
“Like many pieces of legislation, it takes a great amount of perseverance to get the job done…[but] Ohio families and students of faith are better protected today because of [this Act]!”
Of course, the ACLU and other atheist organizations are fuming. But as of now, they’re not able to stand up to Governor DeWine’s authoritative action!
Please pray that other states across the U.S. will implement similar protections for religious students in public schools.
And praise God for His faithful protection of His people!