Montana lawmaker files bill allowing prayer at school-sponsored events
State Rep. Greg Kmetz wants to shove Christianity in students' faces
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Montana currently has an unenforceable law on the books that says “any teacher, principal, or superintendent may open the school day with a prayer.” That line has been part of section §20-7-112 of the Montana Code for decades, but the Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that school-sponsored prayer in public schools was unconstitutional, so that line became useless. It would remain in the state code until someone changed it, but it wouldn’t be an excuse for anyone to force prayer on children.
Now, newly elected State Rep. Greg Kmetz has filed a bill that will finally change that part of the law… without removing the vestigial line that has no business still being in the state code.
HB 745 alters that section of the law by saying students would be allowed to read the “Bible or other religious material” during free time or to fulfill a self-selected reading requirement… all of which was already legal.
Then there’s this addition:
Prayer is permitted in a school, on school grounds, and at school-sponsored events, but a person may not be compelled to pray. The school day may begin with a prayer."
Leave it to a Republican to take a bad law and somehow make it worse.
He’s literally adding a line that says “The school day may begin with a prayer,” which has been illegal for decades now. Kmetz also tosses in that prayer may be permitted at school-sponsored events—like graduations and assemblies and athletic competitions—which is also illegal and has been repeatedly struck down by the courts.
Just because he also says “a person may not be compelled to pray” doesn’t make any of this better. A student cannot be expected to walk out of an administrator-led prayer just as a football player shouldn’t have to refuse to participate in a coach-led prayer before or after a game. The level of coercion is obscene and no student should have to make a choice between lying or being ostracized all because some adult gets off on pushing Jesus on children.
It’s not just a bill that would remain illegal; it’s a bill that would punish anyone who isn’t Christian or doesn’t believe Christianity should be the default faith in their school.
Make no mistake: This is all about promoting Christianity. Kmetz doesn’t even try to hide that fact. He doesn’t say students can read “religious material”; he says they can read the “Bible or other religious material.” There’s his book, then there’s the other crap he feels obligated to toss in there.
This is to be expected from Kmetz. He even wrote on a recent Facebook post:
… I believe the Bible to be the Book that gives us all our answers about how to live, how to love our fellow man, how to build and keep a home, and on and on. You get the idea. When we have to vote on principles that are clearly outlined in the “Book” there is simply only one way I can vote on these issues.
No one’s saying he can’t have his preferred faith. But he was elected to represent the people of Montana, not his church, and he doesn’t seem to have any clue how to separate his personal beliefs from the job he was elected to do. Now there’s clear evidence of that with one of his first proposed bills: one that promotes Christianity at the expense of marginalized students who shouldn’t have to face religious persecution all because one political party wants to establish a Christian theocracy.
The first hearing on this bill takes place today.