Make School Godly Again!

As Kentucky kids go back to school, they might see some things around the hallways that they haven’t in the past.

A T-shirt with an image of the Crucifixion. Or, a “Build the wall! #MAGA” message.

The law created by Senate Bill 17 allows children in public schools to produce and distribute religious and political messages, wear religious and political clothing and form religious and political student groups. Additionally, any religious and political group must be granted equal access to public forums and cannot be “hindered or discriminated against” in selecting their leaders, members or establishing their principles.

What could possibly go wrong, when kids are allowed to form their own groups and choose who’s in and who’s out?

This law creates a school environment that will only divide classrooms, create cliques and divisions among kids.

It’s wrong, and it’s dangerous. The state of California recognized this and now bans state-funded travel to Kentucky. Two conventions canceled plans to come to Louisville because of the California ban.

In addition to that problem, the law will create many more before solving a single one. It creates countless questions of, very nebulous, right-vs.-wrong. Beliefs or biases? Discrimination or religious freedom? Religious or political communication… or bullying?

What happens when a kid wears a T-shirt that says: “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. —Leviticus 20:13”? And that leaves out the bloody part.

Class-President campaign slogan: “Mexicans are rapists, stand with Trump and vote for me… Eighth grade President! … Make middle school great again!”

That child can’t be sent to timeout, given detention or even asked to remove the shirt. Not now. Not in Kentucky public schools. They have the same right to express those religious or political messages as others of nonreligious and apolitical subject.

Gov. Matt Bevin and Republican lawmakers have revived the debate over religion in public schools, and made this kind of violation possible. Plus, given Bevin’s history of attacking and bullying those who he disagrees with, he has set an example that undoubtedly encourages problems.

Most important, what happens when “different” kids start getting excluded, alienated or bullied, because they’re… fill in the blank: Muslim, gay or an immigrant. Maybe they have two moms or two dads, and that disqualifies them from joining a student group that doesn’t believe in gay marriage.

This is adults making their problems our kids’ problems. This will happen as a result of this law.

To be fair, the legislation includes language about being inclusive of all religions and political beliefs. Such as allowing teachers to teach about religion — with use of the Bible — in teaching history of religion or comparative religion.

This so-called freedom of expression law reiterates rights that students and we already realize, while creating countless questions and dangerous situations for children.

For instance, if the Bible can be used as a text for history classes, does that mean that state tax dollars will be used to buy Bibles as textbooks? So, now, Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians are paying for Bibles?

What happens when a teacher wants to take a history class on a field trip to the Ark Park or Creation Museum? More taxpayer dollars going to a religious cause that is not their own. And what if a student’s parents don’t want them to attend — for whatever reason — does that count as an absence?

The real problem with this bill is that it rehashes the same religious infringement on public life as does displaying the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, and organized prayer in public schools. School property is public property, and school time is public time.

Parents and children have the right to free exercise of their religion. But religious practice and observation does not extend to public schools. That’s why we have churches.

Moreover, when a child is excluded, or bullied, remember that it is the fault of Bevin and the lawmakers who voted for this bill. This is not the child’s fault — not even the bullying child’s fault. Once again — like the transgender bathroom issue, school prayer or sex education — this is an example of adults using children as pawns in their social-issue, political debates.

It will only teach them how to be divided, and different from one another.