Thoughts of a former evangelical Christian

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Texas House: Religious Equal Access Act

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2013 at 6:17 am

Rep. Matt Krause, Representative for the 93rd House District of Texas in the Fort Worth area, recently introduced a constitutional amendment (H.B. 1525) to guarantee groups like the Good News Club access to public elementary schools.  The amendment would add the following provision to the Texas Education Code:

Sec. 11.1651.  PROHIBITION OF DISPARATE TREATMENT IN ALLOWING ACCESS TO SCHOOL CAMPUSES DURING NON-INSTRUCTIONAL TIME BASED ON RELIGIOUS NATURE OF ORGANIZATION.

If the board of trustees of an independent school district allows noncurricular community organizations not organized or operated primarily by students access to district school campuses during non-instructional time,  the district must provide religious organizations the same access to school campuses during non-instructional time as is given to other noncurricular organizations without discrimination based on any religious nature of an organization or on an organization’s activities on campus, including expression of religious viewpoints.

The provision, if enacted, would go farther than existing Supreme Court precedent.  In Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001), the Supreme Court held that Milford Central School could not exclude the Good News Club on the basis of its religious viewpoints, when it allowed other community groups to teach students “moral and character development.”

H.B. 1525 is purportedly intended to codify the Good News Club decision.  But H.B. 1525 would go further by barring a school from denying access to a religious group for any reason at all.  A school would be prohibited from scrutinizing a religious group’s activities — including emotional and psychological mistreatment of children — as well as its viewpoints.

Rep. Krause with family and pastor at Glenview Baptist Church

Prior to becoming elected, Rep. Krause graduated from Liberty University School of Law before working as an attorney for Liberty Counsel.  In Dec. 2007, he opened Liberty Counsel’s Texas office.

P.S.: Endorsed by the Tea Party, Rep. Krause also recently filed a “Come and Take It” firearm protection bill.

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