Creationist Legislation in Ohio

This is in the Colulmbus Dispatch of Columbus, Ohio: Ohio House passes bill it says will protect students’ religious liberties at school. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

The Ohio House on Wednesday approved legislation that would protect student rights to religious expression in public schools, including prayer, school assignments, artwork and clothing. Lawmakers passed House Bill 164 by a vote of 61-31 and sent it to the Senate for consideration.

Sponsor Rep. Tim Ginter, R-Salem, said his “bill is not an expansion but a clarification (of) what students can and cannot do in religious expression.” He added that the measure was “inclusive legislation that will positively enhance liberties.”

Here it is at the website of the Ohio Legislature: House Bill 164. The thing is 17 pages of mind-numbing stuff. You have to cruise all the way to the bottom of page 15, where it says, with our bold font:

Sec. 3320.03 . No school district board of education, governing authority of a community school established under Chapter 3314. of the Revised Code, governing body of a STEM school established under Chapter 3326. of the Revised Code, or board of trustees of a college-preparatory boarding school established under Chapter 3328. of the Revised Code shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments. Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns, and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.

Okay, back to the newspaper, which tells us:

The bill, dubbed the “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019,” would require schools to:

• Give student religious groups the same access to school facilities for meetings and events as secular groups have.

• Lift bans limiting student expression of religion to lunch or non-instructional periods.

• Abolish any restrictions on students from engaging in religious expression in completion of homework, artwork or other assignments.

Newsweek also has an article on it: New Ohio Law Lets Students Give Wrong Answers on Tests for Religious Reasons, which says:

The Ohio state House of Representatives has passed the Student Religious Liberties Act, which prevents teachers from penalizing students for giving incorrect answers on tests or other schoolwork if those facts would conflict with their religious beliefs. … In practice, this means that the extremely broadly-defined “religious expression” can be present in the content of an essay, test or other assignment and the teacher cannot grade down or otherwise correct the student for it.


The bill's sponsor, Republican representative and ordained minister Timothy Ginter, has a history of attempting to write his religious beliefs into legislation.

That’s pretty much the news. Now the thing now has to pass the Ohio Senate. We’ll keep an eye on it.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Creationist Legislation in Ohio

  1. It’s actually so much meaningless blether. “Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance … and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.” So if I ask a student to calculate the age of a rock from radiometric data, I can’t take marks off if he says it can’t really be more than 6000 years old,but I don’t need to give any credits unless he goes on to calculate the radiometric age question correctly.

    Fine by me

    Of course, other parts of the legislation directly conflict with the Establishment Clause, and for this reason I predict that the Ohio Senate will quietly kill it

  2. Michael Fugate

    These guys love these laws until other religions get equal access. They really do imagine that Christianity will be the only player. They like to label everything non-Christian as another religion called paganism, but will they allow so-called pagans to say prayers at their school board meetings and legislative sessions? What will Christian teachers do if non-Christian students attempt to proselytize as part of their homework?

  3. HB 164: “….. shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.”
    Newsweek: “which prevents teachers from penalizing students for giving incorrect answers on tests or other schoolwork if those facts would conflict with their religious beliefs”
    As I’m neither American nor a lawyer, just a simple Dutchman, I understand nothing. What kind of incorrect answers could that be? Apparently PaulB doesn’t get it either. This bill doesn’t prevent any creacrapper from writing something like “according to Evolution Theory dinosaurs went extinct before humans appeared, but my religion says they didn’t.”
    Perhaps HB 164 wants to prevent teachers to penalize students for giving the creacrap answer “dinos and humans lived side by side because the Holy Bible says the Earth is 6000 years old” without giving the correct answer according to science. If that’s so the student also can answer “given a radius of 5 the perimeter of this circle is 30, because the Holy Bible says pi equals 3 and that’s my religious belief” or “our Universe began with the Big Boil as my religious belief is pastafarianism.”
    Neither scenario is a victory for any form of creacrap. Remember, IDiots can’t refer to religious beliefs anyway.

  4. A similar bill was signed into law here in Florida:

  5. Thanks for the info, Brandon. Good of you to drop in.

  6. Michael Fugate

    This seems to be lifted from the education department’s guidelines.

    Religious Expression and Prayer in Class Assignments

    Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Such home and classroom work should be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school. Thus, if a teacher’s assignment involves writing a poem, the work of a student who submits a poem in the form of a prayer (for example, a psalm) should be judged on the basis of academic standards (such as literary quality) and neither penalized nor rewarded on account of its religious content.

  7. Michael Fugate

    Let me add that this law has the potential to backfire – exposing individuals to other faiths or none at all. What if a student trolled a teacher’s religion by interjecting counter arguments into their assignments?

  8. Theodore Herrlich

    I live in Ohio and remember Ohio was one of the states that briefly implemented a ‘science curriculum’ that included Intelligent Design and had a school board member (D.O.Fink) who was pushing hard for Creationism. and later Intelligent Design, in the classroom. I hope the Ohio Senate will kill this bill, but it’s a Senate loaded with Republicans who seem to prefer pandering to believers than enacting legislation that apply to all Ohioans. We shall see. i might have my fingers crossed, but I certainly won’t be holding my breath.

    What i expect to happen is the Senate will pass it and eventually some teacher is going to fail a student test or assignment because they will offer only their religious view bereft of anything resembling real science. They will whine to Mom and Dad who will then threaten legal action. The real question is will the school system bow down or take a stand on actual academics?