Minnesota, known for its thousands of pristine lakes, may soon become better known for its deplorable censorship of speech. Politically correct leftists are pushing a state “anti-bullying” law that will result in extreme censorship of all public school students and even some private school students if their schools receive any state money. The bill, summarized here by Professor Volokh, goes so far as to prohibit even one word that “relates to” the religion of another person, and has a “detrimental effect” on their “social or emotional health.” You can read the latest version of the bill yourself here.
It’s easy to come up with numerous examples of how this bill will have a devastating effect on student speech. If two Christian students are discussing the morality of abortion, disagree on what the Bible says on the issue, and one of them argues that any true Christian can see that the Bible clearly teaches against abortion, the other may very well be offended, upset, and angered. Is this a detrimental effect on that student’s “emotional health”? Probably so, and the student who made the statement would be subject to punishment.
What about a Catholic school student who wears a button to school that states the Church’s position on marriage and sexuality? If the school gets any state money – even if it’s just to provide reduced lunches to underprivileged kids – that button is considered bullying and would have to be censored by the school. The breadth of this proposed law is staggering. It even applies to statements that don’t rise to the level of “harassment” – a legal standard used to make sure speech is protected.
If this bill passes (and withstands a court challenge), the next step will be for Minnesota to start dictating what religious schools are teaching. That’s already happening in Ontario, Canada, where a Jesuit school is being forced to change its Catholic religion course on ethics and morality to one government officials approve of. Apparently, Catholic teaching on marriage and the family is considered hateful and intolerant. All Canadian Christians should be alarmed by this development. If the government can censor Catholic teaching on the family, it can censor any other religious teaching deemed offensive. And make no mistake, the Gospel is offensive. Christ said that we will be hated if we follow Him (Mark 13:13), and Paul warned that if the Gospel is not offending anyone, it’s being distorted (Gal. 5:11).
Rest assured, we at Alliance Defending Freedom are doing everything in our power to make sure the anti-religion policies of the Land of the Maple Tree don’t infect the Land of the Free. And even if they are attempting to spread across the border to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Minnesota “anti-bullying” law has a very slim chance of withstanding constitutional scrutiny in a court of law. In fact, we are looking for clients now to challenge the bill immediately if it passes. If you or your school is concerned about how this bill will affect you, contact us by going to AllianceDefendingFreedom.org, and clicking on “Get Legal Help.”
This post originally appeared here.