When the Georgia General Assembly convenes next week, Republican State Rep. James Burchett plans to introduce an amendment to the state’s constitution that would protect students’ “religious liberties.”
Maybe you’re thinking, “Wait, that’s already protected. Literally no one was ever trying to take those away.”
You would be right.
But that’s never stopped Republicans from pretending Christians are being persecuted.
[Burchett] stated students need protections for their freedom of religion and freedom of speech while at school.
“This is a direct reaction towards what’s happening in many parts of the state where groups are coming in and protesting the fact that kids are praying in school. So, what happens then is a lot of times the school reacts and infringes upon those children’s rights,” Burchett said. “While there is a separation of church and state, there is the freedom to pray and the freedom to speak, and they should be able to do those things even in school.”
No group has ever protested kids praying in school. Certainly no atheist group. The only time there’s really ever an issue is when teachers or coaches are participating in or leading those prayers, coercing students to join in whether or not they want to. Or when Christian prayers are delivered over the school’s public address system as if the bleachers are a makeshift church.
Those are serious legal problems that need to be addressed. But kids who want to pray on their own? Football players who want to pray before a game? No one cares. No one’s getting in the way of that.
So I asked Burchett directly: Did he have any examples of people stepping in, preventing students from praying on their own?
He responded. (Spoiler: Nope.)
My intentions are to clarify our school aged children’s rights to pray in school through a constitutional amendment reinforcing these children’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The impact and affect of particular groups protesting prayer in school has a chilling affect on those freedoms.
That’s a lot of words with zero substance. He wants to introduce an amendment that would duplicate the law. It’s a waste of time and an opportunity for him to pretend he’s being useful. But it’s not going to change anything for anyone. The atheist bogeymen he’s implicitly referring to support students’ right to pray on their own. By not acknowledging that, he’s showing his own ignorance on the topic.
When I pressed him to give me any example of students’ rights being infringed upon, he sent me a single link, to this story. That story is all about how students were prohibited from using the school’s public address system to broadcast Christian prayers to the football stadium before a game. (The policy was changed to allow a single student to say “anything” over the loudspeaker before a game, which creates a whole new set of problems.) That loudspeaker example is so egregious, though, the Supreme Court decided the issue decades ago.
Apparently, shoving Christianity in everyone’s faces using district equipment is the sort of “private prayer” that Burchett wants to protect.
Georgia is a state dominated by Republicans, which means they could pass meaningful legislation if they wanted to. Instead, Burchett’s biggest goal is to convince gullible Christians he’s defending their freedoms even though he’s just creating more waste for the public to sift through. Their freedoms aren’t being challenged. They don’t need further defending.
It’s pathetic that a politician refuses to acknowledge the obvious.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)