RICHMOND — A Senate committee in the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday narrowly endorsed a measure to amend the state’s Bill of Rights to require all public places and schools to accommodate prayer or other religious activity and allow students to be dismissed from assignments or presentations that conflict with their religious beliefs.
The resolution — sponsored by Republican Sens. William M. Stanley, Jr. (Franklin) and Charles W. “Bill” Carrico (Grayson) — would guarantee public officials, students and others the right to conduct religious activities as long as they were not disruptive and no one was coerced to participate.
Stanley told the panel that the measure was intended to ensure that people of all religions would not be penalized for exercising their right to religious beliefs. To illustrate, he said that a Muslim high school student could ask to be excused from dissecting a fetal pig in biology class, because their religion views those animals as unclean, without affecting his or her grades.