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Bill protects prayer in Indiana schools

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

A bill that protect religious liberty in schools is headed to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk.

Both religious and secular leaders support the legislation, which passed the Senate Thursday.

House Bill 1024 says public schools can’t force or stop students of any religion from praying or expressing religious beliefs.

Students can also wear religious clothing and jewelry and can start religious or secular clubs.

“There can’t be any imposition of one religion over another. We wouldn’t accept that. But to allow freedom to pray, that’s the important thing,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said.

While the bishop’s response may seem obvious, a secular group has a similar stance.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is dedicated to separating church and state.

FFRF Co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor says many of these protections already exist in schools.

“It looks like this bill simply codifies a lot of legal precedent, and court rulings on religion in the schools. It’s a little bit of perhaps a phony bill,” Gaylor said.

Phony or not, Gaylor says the bill could protect non-religious students as much as it does religious students.

If the bill is signed into law, the Department of Education will have to come up with some guidelines for schools to make sure it’s all followed.

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