'Merry Christmas' bill allows religious holidays back into schools
Christmas is already on the minds of the governor and state lawmakers.
Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill into law Thursday, officially permitting certain religious items to be displayed during holidays at public schools.
House Bill 308 was co-sponsored by Senator Robert Nichols from East Texas. He said the legislation is a move to protect schools from lawsuits.
"It actually codifies in state law the findings of the Supreme Court," Nichols said. "The hope is that it will reduce frivolous lawsuits to our schools and make our schools feel more comfortable celebrating traditional holidays."
"It's a shame that a bill like the one that I'm signing today is even required," Perry said. "But I'm proud that we're standing up for religious freedom in this state."
The legislation applies to all religions, allowing schools to display religious symbols as long as more than one religion is represented or if a religious scene is accompanied by a secular one.
Schools also cannot include messages that encourage participation in a particular religious belief.
"Our constitution doesn't refer to freedom from religion, it refers to freedom of religion," Nichols said. "You don't want to have one religion pushed over another, and that's where the concerns originally came from."
"Government leaders owe it to the people of all religions and faiths, all people that want to project their expression of faith, to make sure that everyone has the right to worship as they see fit," Perry said.
Nichols said they do not expect the law to face any legal hurdles, as it is based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue.
Thursday, September 11 2014 5:21 AM EDT2014-09-11 09:21:40 GMT
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