Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan) is known for interesting legislation, mostly of the "values" stripe.
His latest bill is, in fact, one that I could support, although it is largely useless.
Let's have fun with the Deseret News article from today's paper:
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, has a bill ready for the 2007 Legislature, which begins Monday, that he said makes it clear individuals have a right to express their religious beliefs on public property.
His bill, SB111, is titled, "Free Exercise of Religion Without Government Interference." It would require government entities to demonstrate "clear and convincing evidence" that any action taken to curb free exercise of faith "is essential to further a compelling government interest" and is the least restrictive way of doing so.
In other words, we're OK with Government squashing religion, as long as it has a good reason.
Buttars said his bill would apply to a student wearing a T-shirt with a religious message to school
Even if it said "Mormons are Going to Hell?"
or a group singing a Christmas hymn in a public park — but not a government entity that wants to put up a Nativity scene.
Last time I checked, you could sing anything you dang well wanted in a park, whether it was "Silent Night" "Stairway to Heaven" or "The Star Spangled Banner" (but only in English).
High school students would be able to choose to pray at their graduation, he said, but the school couldn't make that part of the event.
Unless the cops can listen to our thoughts, you can't stop a student from praying at graduation or any other time.
Buttars said he decided to carry the bill after hearing from a parent whose child was sent home from an unnamed junior high school in his district for wearing a T-shirt with the Mormon message "CTR," or "Choose the Right." The senator said he's heard similar complaints regarding students who've brought non-Christian religious books to class.
In other words, because a school has a bad dress code policy, we need legislation.
Of course, a lot of the girls I've seen in "CTR" shirts are wearing shirts that are to small, therefore revealing a bare midriff, which is against most school's dress code. It's also, ironically, against proper (modest) dress standards for LDS youth.
"You have that kind of baloney all the time," Buttars said, blaming the public schools' fear of being sued by "those against religious expression" for the actions. He said he is confident his bill would withstand any legal challenge because it was drafted by constitutional experts he declined to identify.
The expert's name is Chris Buttars. I've heard that name before....
Buttars has tackled controversial topics before, including an unsuccessful challenge last session to the teaching of evolution. He has already announced he'll try again this session with another bill that failed, this one attempting to ban gay-straight alliances in schools.
In other words, he's against government in religion, but not religion in government.
When Alabama outlaws Mormonism, it'll be all Buttars's fault.