Bill Aimed At Protecting Religious Freedoms - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Bill Aimed At Protecting Religious Freedoms

Posted: Updated:

In recent months, portraits of Jesus hung in the hallways of schools have made Ohio the focus of a debate over the separation of church and state.

In two instances, school districts chose to remove the pictures versus fighting costly legal battles with the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

On Wednesday, two Ohio lawmakers introduced a bill that they say would put the freedom back in religion.

"God gave us our rights, not the government, not the neighbor, but God. Government is here to protect those rights," said Representative Bill Patmon.

Patmon, a Democrat representative from Cleveland, helped introduce a bill at the Ohio Statehouse protecting expressions of religion.

"How many of our students, how many of our schools need prayer? It's a disservice that we do when we don't allow it, when we don't encourage it," added Patmon.

He and Representative Tim Derickson, a Republican from Oxford, are trying to convince fellow lawmakers to pass the Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Derickson tells NBC4 that it mirrors federal legislation that passed in 1993, "the courts would have to make compelling government interest before burdening an individual's religious freedoms or religious right."

Derickson says he has been following state and national religious cases that continue to draw debate and legal challenges.

In November, The East Muskingum School District agreed to remove a painting of Jesus from John Glenn High School in New Concord after receiving a complaint.

In January, in Jackson County, school leaders were sued by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to remove a picture of Jesus hanging in a hallway in Jackson Middle School after receiving a complaint .

"My concern has been that without this in place here in the state that the number of religious challenges could indeed increase," said Rep. Derickson who worries about protecting First Amendment rights.

He says he expects people to disagree with his beliefs. He also says 45 fellow lawmakers are on board with this bill so far.

Rep. Patmon says he welcomes any challenges to the bill which he will push to become law.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, calls the proposal "bad policy."

But Rep. Derickson says many faith based groups back their bill including the Catholic Conference, the Ohio Council of Churches, Citizens for Community Values and a Jewish organization.

Ohio would join 17 other states with such laws on the books.

Special Features

        Radar                           NBC4 Apps                      E-mail Alerts                        Traffic                   Send A News Tip
Powered by WorldNow

3165 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, OH 43202

Telephone: 614.263.4444
Fax: 614.263.0166

NBC4 BBB Business Review
Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.