Published On: Mon, May 1st, 2017

Indiana Senate passes bill to protect student prayer, pro-life student groups

The Indiana Senate and House passed a bill that would protect public school students from discrimination when they are praying or engaging in religious activities before, during and after school. HB 2014, sponsored by Rep. John Bartlett, has been sent to Governor Eric Holcomb for signature.
HB 1024 protects the First Amendment rights of students to free speech and religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. This bill allows public schools to teach survey courses on world religions and students to pray in school and express their views on God in schoolwork. It allows religious student groups to use school facilities and provides that students may not be discriminated against based on their religion.
Supporters of HB 1024 used Liberty Counsel’s case involving Carmel High School’s pro-life student club as an example after school administrators censored and discarded the students’ previously approved adoption poster display. Carmel Teens for Life members, represented by Liberty Counsel, was prepared to litigate, but the school reversed course after receiving a demand letter. Mary Carmen Zakrajsek, president of the pro-life club, addressed the Indiana House Education Committee in support of HB 1024 prior to the vote. Zakraisek said, speaking from her recent experiences, “Student voices are being silenced and it’s time to take a stand.”
“Whether it is wearing a cross necklace, meeting in a Christian club or hanging a pro-life sign on the student club message board, students have the right to free speech and religious expression,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “We applaud this law in Indiana. This follows the passage of a similar law in Kentucky. HB 1024 provides a clear mandate to school officials to protect the free speech rights of students. We encourage Gov. Holcomb to sign this bill,” said Staver.

photo Alyson Jones

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