Senator Bill Stanley Proposes Religious Freedom Amendment

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. -- A constitutional amendment is moving through the General Assembly and it's all about the freedom of religion.

Changes would include any kind of prayer in private or public settings, like public schools. Dr. Chuck Bishop with Augusta County Public schools said right now, all schools in the county have a moment of silence every morning. Some students pray, while others have books.

Senator Bill Stanley wants to add to the current constitutional provision on religion already in place.

One of the changes proposed could also mean that the school would have to accomodate a person if they wanted to pray in a public setting separate from quiet time.

Dr. Bishop is willing to be flexible, given that a break wouldn't interfere with learning.

"You know we certainly want to maintain an environment in our schools that is free from distraction however we certainly will abide by a person's rights to exercise freedom of religion," Dr. Bishop said.

An excerpt from the proposal summary reads as follows: "[The amendment] adds to the present constitutional provision on freedom of religion and provides that the right to worship includes prayer in private or public settings, on government premises, on public property and in all public schools. The amendment also requires public schools to display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. The proposed amendment is based on a provision in the Missouri Constitution approved by the Missouri voters August 7, 2012."

Dr. Bishop said they don't have the Bill of Rights on display currently, but adding copies would not be a problem.

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