SB 1793/HB 1547, the Tennessee “Religious Viewpoints Anti-discrimination Act” has passed both its House and Senate and sits on the desk of Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and not only allows but encourages anti-gay bullying in the name of “religious freedom.” The bill if signed into law would allows students to use religion in any manner they choose, and protects their use of religion in anyu form under the guise of “religious freedom.”
According to TheNewCivilRightsMovement:
At a basic level, a student could merely write “God” on a chemistry test as the answer to a question asking to where water comes from. A student could also stand in class and say their religion says that gay people are sinners and going to hell, and that speech would be legally protected. The bill states “a student may express beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. A student would not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of the student’s work.”Creationists of course will love the bill.
But the more sinister part of the bill forces all students to be subjected to the religious beliefs of the popular kids.
Tennessee’s “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act” actually mandates that schools allow students the use of public school facilities — including the school’s public address system, classrooms and school assemblies — and makes schools “[p]rovide the forum in a manner that does not discriminate against a student’s voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint.”
An evangelical student, or example, could preach the gospel during a science class, or “witness” during English. Attacks on LGBT people and same-sex marriage are automatically protected under this bill, offering anti-gay students a state-sposored license to bully. And of course, a student could claim they worship Satan and subject their classmates to that “religious viewpoint” as well.
The bill, of course, likely violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but that rarely stops conservative lawmakers on a religious mission.
The ACLU has said that SB 1793/HB 1547, “crosses the line from protecting religious freedom into creating systematic imposition of some students’ personal religious viewpoints on other students.”
The bill passed the TN Senate with a 32-0 vote, and the TN House passed it 90-2, any veto that the well known anti-gay GOP Governor Haslam might consider would likely will be overridden.