Should Colorado Schools Have a Religious "Bill of Rights"?

February 15 2010, 11:09 AM

Schultheis, DaveSure, the high courts have ruled that church and state should be kept as separate as possible and that expressing religion in public schools can lead to confusion. But state Senator Dave Schultheis, a Colorado Springs Republican, is seeking to help public school students, parents, and employees express religious beliefs without fear of retribution through a religious "bill of rights," reports The Colorado Statesman. "I have been made aware of people who feel their religious freedoms are being trampled or disregarded in increasing numbers," Schultheis says. Opponents, meanwhile, fear school districts could become mired in costly lawsuits. It is the second time Schultheis has proposed such legislation, which could permit religious clothing and allow religious songs and speech at assemblies, notes The Denver Post. Joyce Rubin, senior director of the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, is skeptical. "This bill says that a student would have a right to proselytize to other students at a school-sponsored event," she says. "It goes beyond rights that are already guaranteed by the Constitution by inserting new rights that may, in fact, violate the Constitution." Schultheis recently was dinged for being religiously intolerant by the left-leaning Colorado Independent for a tweet in which he asked "Where does this end?" in reference to the Air Force Academy's decision to allow a worship space for pagans. "It really matters to the Christian conservative lawmaker," the Independent writes. "He wants to see little Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan and Druid students, all learning their faiths side by side. Right, senator?"