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Students could earn elective credit for religious classes



Published: Sun, July 6, 2014 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Marc Kovac

news@vindy.com

COLUMBUS

Students could earn elective credit for religious classes offered away from school property, under legislation recently approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. John Kasich.

HB 171 would not excuse students from math, language, social studies, science and other coursework required for graduation. Rather, the new state law enables school boards to allow up to two elective credits for religious instruction.

The latter classes are offered off school property, and students are released to attend with permission from their parents, provided attendance records are kept, transportation is provided, no public funds are used and affected students assume responsibility for any missed school assignments, among other requirements.

“I look forward to the added opportunities for our students to improve their lives, and this gives us yet another tool to help change society for the better,” Rep. Jeff McClain, a primary co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation, said in a released statement.

Rep. Bill Patmon, Democrat from Cleveland, the other primary co-sponsor, added during floor deliberations in the House, “This will be something that I believe will do some good for us out in the districts for some people who have never had an exposure to any kind of religion.”

An analysis by the state’s Legislative Service Commission noted past court decisions and an opinion published by the Ohio Attorney General permitting students “to be released from school for religious instruction as long as it comports with the First Amendment and the state religious-freedom clause of the Ohio Constitution.”

Still, several Democrats who voted against the bill voiced concern.

“Religion can be a powerful and important part of many Americans’ day-to-day life,” Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, said during floor deliberations on the bill in the Senate last month. “It can also be very controversial. It’s something that people of all ages can benefit from, but I think we’re making a mistake when we’re telling public schools that they can give credits for religious instruction.”

HB 171 received final approval from the Ohio House and Senate last month on split votes (24-9 in the Senate, 86-10 in the House). With Kasich’s signature, the bill is set to take effect in September.


Comments

1m8ke_the_call(105 comments)posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Give me a break. I am already tired of hearing the Hobby Lobby nonsense. Hobby Lobby will still be paying for 6 forms of contraception, just not abortion drugs.

As for all forms of religion, why not. You can't attack this until someone actually tries to tack a course on wicca and is denied. Let's see how it stands.

As a last note; Joe is wrong on this. Then again I am finding Joe to be on the wrong side of more and more issues and it seems like he is only doing this to show himself as opposing the republicans instead of going with what is right.

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