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Ohio considers guns and God and public schools
GOP bill would set rules for gun carrying in schools and keep IDs secret; Democratic bill would give kids public-school credit for religion classes they take elsewhere

Ida Lieszkovszky
Courtesy of Leanne 1985
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In The Region:

Gun rights in school and religious education are two of the topics lawmakers in Columbus are considering this week. StateImpact Ohio’s Ida Lieszkovszky reports.

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Ohio schools are generally thought of as gun-free zones, but there are exceptions. State law dictates that no one can carry a weapon on school grounds unless they have written authorization from the local school board.

Kristina Roegner, a Republican House member from Hudson, says that loophole needs tightening.

“As long as a school board gives them approval, they can have all the teachers, all the janitors, all the staff, they can have all the parents, they can have anyone carry weapons in the school as long as they give them approval. And right now there are no protocols, no safeguards, there’s nothing.”

Roegner has introduced a bill that would require districts to work with local law enforcement in deciding who can carry a gun in school, and how to train them. Her bill would also allow schools to conceal the names of individuals permitted to carry weapons. And it would protect those individuals from liability for any accidents unless they were the result of “reckless and wanton conduct.”

Public school credits for religion classes
Another bill that’s getting a hearing this week by the House Education Committee would encourage religious education.  It would allow public high schools to give credits for religion courses students take outside of school.

Democratic Rep. Bill Patmon of Cleveland sponsored the bill. 

“If you look at your dollar bill, it says 'In God We Trust.' If you go to court they ask you to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. I would not like that to be a mystery for some young person.”

Classes in any religion could count as long as they meet certain academic qualifications. Students would have to pay for their own transportation to-and-from religion classes. The only other state with a similar arrangement is South Carolina.

Listener Comments:

Rep. Patmon is making the mistake that many people make: that belief in god and belief in religion are the same. They are not.

If fact, the "founding fathers" took special care to separate the two in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

A comparative religion course taught from a historical perspective within the schools, YES. A religion as belief course taught by a religious institution, NO.

Posted by: Dale Casper (Norwalk, OH) on June 7, 2013 1:06AM
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