Religious freedom bill clears committee, heads to the House for full vote

Posted at 7:51 AM, Mar 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-08 07:51:35-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — A bill that would allow teachers and faculty members in Kentucky’s public schools to share their religious beliefs freely has passed through committee and will head to the House for a full vote.

House Bill 547 follows a United States Supreme Court ruling, which was made after a high school football coach in the state of Washington was fired for insisting on prayer for his players. The state bill will allow for prayer and religious programs at school and school-sanctioned events.

“This is a piece of legislation that will hopefully embolden these Christian teachers, who are not ashamed of their faith, but sometimes out of fear do not say anything about their faith, or hold prayer groups with other teachers,” said HB 547 sponsor, Representative Chris Fugate (R-84).

Fugate said the need for this legislation on the state level, despite the similar ruling from the Supreme Court, is necessary to offset opposition from protestors or those who might challenge the validity of the ruling on the state level.

School teacher Donny Wilkerson is very much in favor of HB 547 as it’ll allow for the expression of all religions.

“(It) will allow my Buddhist friends to have a copy of their (prayer books). It will allow my Mormon friends to have their copy of the Book of Mormon,” he said, before adding it’ll also serve to protect the rights of LGBTQ members.

HB 547 also contains language that allows anyone to refrain from taking part in prayer or religious programs without consequence.