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Georgia Bill Wants Students to Have More Religious Freedom

Georgia is preparing for another church and state battle based on a new bill. House Bill 816, dubbed the "Georgia Student Religious Liberties Act of 2016," would allow students "to voluntarily express their religious viewpoints in public schools."

This means students can experience the freedom of religious expression in class assignments, the green light to organize religious groups and activities during school hours, and the right to pray or speak about religion during "public forum" events like graduations. Supporters say the bill pushes back against rules that prohibit varying forms of religious expression.

Local pastor Sabrina Mackenzie told WXIA, "This is will give them the opportunity to not pray silently, to not go in a corner and pray, but to congregate as a class or congregate as an assembly." Christopher Carter Polsten, the chaplain at Morehouse College also told WXIA, "The decline of society really has been co-existing and co-extensive with the removal of God from human affairs."

Polsten added, "We want to make it clear that we acknowledge the freedom of religion, and so if a Muslim wants to pray, we should allow them to pray. If an atheist wants to meditate, we should allow them to do that." On the other hand, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said it intends to fight the bill. In addition, Wisconsin's Freedom From Religion Foundation said the bill is poorly written.

The bill is under review by Georgia's House Judiciary Committee.

Photo: US News

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