House Republicans To Remove Religious Exemption From Anti-Bullying Bill

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email
Democrats are hoping the change will stick

The Michigan Capitol is shown at twilight Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009, in Lansing, Mich. Lawmakers continue work on budget bills that deal with a $2.8 billion shortfall before an Oct. 1 deadline. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

LANSING -- House Republicans are likely to nix a controversial religious exemption from their version of anti-bullying legislation when they take it up next week, according to a top aide.

Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, told News 10 on Sunday, "It's safe to say there's not much support in the House for the legislation as it's written."

There was a public outcry, including a scathing rebuke from State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, after Senate Republicans passed a bill this past week stating schools' anti-bullying policies can't "prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction."

Democrats and education officials worried that line would essentially create a "license to bully" situation in which students could bully someone, then claim they did so for moral or religious reasons.

Adler said Bolger and other leading Republicans in the House support legislation, instead, that is "general and nature, and doesn't enumerate any specific groups."

Rep. Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt, also told News 10 on Sunday night he would support removing that the religious exemption.

Democrats are praising that move.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, called the change a major victory for those who had publicly decried the controversial Senate bill.

"We can't miss this opportunity," she told News 10. "Forty-seven other states have passed laws to protect victims. The Michigan Republican Senate passed one that protects bullies, and that's a shame and an embarrassment. The House can, and I believe they will, do better."

The House Education Committee will take up the legislation this week.

Stay with News 10 and as this story develops.

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  • by nick Location: okemos on Nov 8, 2011 at 02:57 PM
    still can't figure out why this was even put in there. but let's waste more money and more time now to debate it and take it out. get it right the first time and stop wasting my money!!!!
  • by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 05:09 AM
    I find that I am amazed at the sheer number of people who feel just because they have read the Bible they are now a relegious expert. That they sat next to the writers of each book and know exactly what was ment by each sentence. They seem to forget that what they are doing is also a sin, and should remember pride goeth before a fall. The wording that needs to come out is wrong. We need to make sure that the Legislature is aware of this.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 05:04 AM
    please people, you need to make sure that the person who represents your district is aware that you want the offensive wording out of this bill. We do not need to give a bully any help in being what they are. We do not need to make it OK to be a bully.
  • by Sandi on Nov 7, 2011 at 01:58 PM
    About 5 or 6 hundred years ago, it didn't matter what you believed. If you lived in the wrong place you could be burned at the stake for what you believed in. Didn't matter if you were Catholic, Protestant, or whatever. So being a biggot is not a new thing, it is just that we live in a country that allows us the freedom to be one or ignore one, so please ignore the one who posted here.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 7, 2011 at 12:19 PM
    Now a christian can not have freedom of speech if they do not believe the way others do. They can no longer wear T-shirts that say "Christ still loves Gays but not their sins."
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Nov 7, 2011 at 01:31 PM in reply to
      That is objectionable. I find your shirt offensive. Whas next Jews killed Christ. Muslims don't beleive in Christ. It is not your freedom of speech, it is the freedom of others to be treated as equal to you. If you don't like it put your kid in a private school that teaches as you believe.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Nov 7, 2011 at 01:34 PM in reply to
      Your worried about your freedom of speech? What about the people who do not believe as you do? Don't they also have a freedom of speech. In this country all men are created equal. You do not get to decide what is right or wrong with the population in general just in your own personal piece of the earth. Your home and church. Schools and government are not part of any church unless they are a church school. So send you kids to such a place if you find the public schools offensive.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Nov 7, 2011 at 01:39 PM in reply to
      Last I knew a good christian wouldn't bully anyone, and please tell me where did Jesus state that being a bully for God was a good thing? I think it takes a sick mind to wear a shirt that says something like that. Where in the Bible does it say that exact wording.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 06:00 PM in reply to
        That is a good point, if it is based on religious grounds, then they can toss out the claim because most religions does not encourage intimidiation.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 7, 2011 at 11:20 AM
    When I was in school, I got harrashed daily about my religous beliefs. The teachers thought it was funny and that I could fight my own battles. Being bullied because of relegion is still bullying. What happened to my rights? Every child needs to know they are safe in school. This bill is totally wrong, and more than just that one line needs to be removed and changes made.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 7, 2011 at 11:16 AM
    Wonder if they hve any idea what a black eye this gave to our state? What kind of people would pass something that said what this bill said? I find this just sickens me.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 7, 2011 at 09:40 AM
    I am glad that they are removing that ridiculous part of the bill. However, stoping bullies needs to start at home. Follow a bully home from school and you will find a bully of a parent.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 7, 2011 at 04:56 AM
    Think they need to make sure than bullying is not allowed for any reason. All children should be safe at school. Religion should not be a part of our schools, if you want it there than send your kids to a religious private school.
  • by Sans on Nov 7, 2011 at 04:54 AM
    I would hope, no think that this garbage would be removed from this bill. What were the Lawmakers even thinking? Why would anyone in their right mind have allowed this to be even written into a bill. Are the members of the Senate loosing their minds.
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