If the religious liberty bill is passed by Ohio state lawmakers, public school students could potentially provide scientifically wrong answers on tests, homework, and assignments, but the teacher would have to mark the answers correct if the student comes forth with reasoning supported by their religious beliefs.
The Student Religious Liberties Act was passed by lawmakers in the Ohio House on Wednesday by a vote of 61-31. Every Republican in the House supported the bill. The Student Religious Liberties Act now goes to the Republican-controlled state Senate for approval.
The bill is aimed to provide U.S. students with increased religious freedoms, but it may open up unforeseen issues. HB 164 will allow students to avoid penalties for scientifically wrong answers if the responses conform to their religious beliefs. “Teachers shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work,” the bill states.
People of strong religious faith may have particular views that could be construed as anti-science, which could cause them to fail tests. The new bill may allow zealots to express their religion as an acceptable answer that they could get credit for.
Gary Daniels, the chief lobbyist of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio, was asked about a theoretical situation. If students claimed that the Earth was only 10,000 years old, would they face penalties for the incorrect answer if the student believed that fallacy if the student was a creationist. Other potentially thorny topics could be evolution, homosexuality, the Big Bang theory, the solar system, and dinosaurs.
“Under [the bill], the answer is ‘no,’ as this legislation clearly states the instructor ‘shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work,’” Daniels said.
Can Scientologists’ beliefs override correct science-backed facts? Can Pastafarians who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster revoke universal truths about pirates? Can members of the Cult of Cthulhu dispute proven certitudes? Can a believer in Jediism claim that there are sounds in space, and despite being false, get a correct answer?
However, Republican Representative Timothy Ginter, who sponsored the bill, argues that it isn’t as black and white as it seems. “We live in a day when our young people are experiencing stress and danger and challenges we never experienced growing up,” Ginter said.
Ginter added that students must turn in work that accurately reflects what is taught during the course. “It will be graded using ordinary academic standards of using substance and relevance,” he said.
I can’t see teachers being stoked about having to fact-check their students’ history homework when they present a counter-argument because they practice the Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth religion.
Rep. Ginter argued that the legislation is needed now more than ever because of the pressures that young students have to experience, including depression, suicide, and drug use. “We live in a day when our young people are experiencing stress and danger and challenges we never experienced growing up,” Ginter said.
Ginter did warn students that “this doesn’t give the student a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card.”
The Church of Satan weighed in on the proposed bill. “Disgusting. The antithesis of everything education is supposed to offer,” the Church of Satan wrote on their official Twitter account.
Imagine flunking your biology class, but then you create your own religion that validates your wrong answers about mitosis and meiosis. What a time to be high school student.
House Bill 164 by Local12WKRC on Scribd
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