Senate kills bill promoting religion in schools

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Don't expect to see the Ten Commandments in public schools in the near future.

Senators killed Senate Bill 114 last week, which would have required posting the Ten Commandments in every public school classroom and in the main entryway of every public school. It would have also required students observe a period of quiet reflection at the start of each school day.

When discussed on the Senate floor, the bill was met with both criticism and praise, according to the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB). Democratic senators criticized the bill publicly throughout its travels through legislation, claiming Republicans and supporters of the bill were spending too much time on religion instead of trying to raise test scores.

Sen. John Andrew, R-Aurora, who introduced and sponsored the bill, said its purpose was to "prevent exclusion of America's moral heritage" from schools.

Rev. Al Cashion of Calvary Baptist Church in Craig is not happy the bill didn't pass and is upset the bill did not reach a full Senate debate. He believes if it was put up for debate in front of the Senate rather than stopping in committee, an educational process would have resulted. This would have allowed for more media coverage, in turn bringing more supporters, he said.

Cashion "did not lose sleep" over the stoppage of the bill. He believes prayer and faith will help those who seek it.

"The premier tool that we, the believers in Jesus Christ, have is that we not mandate anything through the political process," Cashion said. He did say the bill would have been beneficial.

According to CASB, a major defense against the bill was the Colorado Constitution. Anti-supporters say the constitution clearly defines the division between church and state. One section of Article II in the constitution states, "... that people are guaranteed religious freedom and ... no sectarian tenet or religious doctrine shall ever be taught in the public schools."

CASB opposed the bill from the beginning.

House Bill 1316, regarding fees in public schools, was killed last week in the House Education Committee. This bill would have required public schools provide textbooks free of charge, without a loss or damage deposit or a rental fee, except for textbooks necessary for elective courses. CASB also opposed this bill.

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