Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rick Perry Comes To Sugar Land, Signs Controversial “Religious Freedom” Bill

It was a media circus. Surrounded by young school children, Rick Perry, in the presence of religious rights parents and evangelical neoconservative State Rep Charlie Howard, signed HB 3678, a bill reviewed here earlier this year, that guarantees that school administrators cannot interfere with religious expression of its students.

Of the event, and the bill, Charlie Howard said”

"What it does is create a win-win situation for the schoolchildren, school administrators and the taxpayers of the state of Texas.. Many school districts across the state have been sued by parents after children were prohibited from talking about their faith, saying ‘Merry Christmas’ or handing out religious Valentine's Day cards.”

Actually, what it does is put Texas, again, in the national limelight as the state that will introduce religious doctrine in its public schools. Again, making Texas the laughingstock of the nation.

Way to go, Charlie.

Why choose Clements High School as the venue for this signing? Has the school had any religious rights cases filed against it? No. Is the school known for its religious intolerance? Hardly likely. Is the school within Charlie Howard’s legislative district boundaries? Definitely.

But more to the point, is a public school a viable venue for a political showcase? If so, this should make an interesting precedent. Clements High School Young Democrats, if they exist, need to take note.

A storm is brewing on this issue that will not go away. At FortBendNow, Bob Dunn has revealed the disconnect between what is public law and what is public policy. The Texas Association of School Boards, or TASB, has issued a policy statement on how local school boards should implement the law. That policy, apparently, is at variance with the policy that is written in the bill. However, one needs to ask, as did FBISD Trustee Cynthia Knox last Monday evening, is the legislature empowered to enact policy or to enact laws? Isn’t it the purview of local school boards to formulate and carry out policy and not blindly follow policy enacted in distant Austin? Law is global, but policy should be local. Isn’t that the Texas way?

Much ado over a few bruised egos. Everything in the bill has already been spelled out by Supreme Court decisions. What should have been a 15 minute presentation in every faculty meeting at every campus in Texas has become public law as well as a staring contest between bill sponsors Howard and Wayne Chisum and the school boards across Texas.


Deece said...

I wish there was a cause of action for legislative malpractice. As others have pointed out, this bill is guaranteed to provoke a lot of litigation, with school districts left holding the bag for attorneys' fees.

Someone in the Legislature ought to amend bills like this to hold the state liable for damages and attorneys' fees levied against school districts as a result of this bill or similar legislation.

Anonymous said...

Repeated runs on my tarots and crystals tell me that there will be oh so many trials and tribulations in the schools because of this. Suddenly the numbers of those attempting to claim practice and perfection of the dark arts with explode causing an imbalance in the universe. Rationalizations of tattoos depicting depraved acts of all permutations between gods and goddesses of various religions will be obnoxious and cacophonous. I promise you that at least five students will be dressed as Hare Krishnas and filling the hallways with the tintinnabulations of their fingerbells the first day of school. After the first week of school when the kids get it out of their system, then we'll discover which students have been brainwashed by their parents. If Charlie Boy couldn't get the state to subsidize church schools, why did he have to pout so badly and come up with this? I guarantee you, all will be well for the parents as long as all the religion expressed is Christian. Anything else and the bigots will be crawling out of the woodwork.

Hal said...

Ditto Deece.

When can we get our legislators to proffer, and vote for, truly meaningly legislation and not these completely symbolical unconstitutional things? Maybe when they enact a law that duns their campaign contribution trough every time they vote for an anti constitutional law like that?

Dream on.