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S.J.R. 9 Enrolled







Chief Sponsor: Parley G. Hellewell

House Sponsor: Michael T. Morley

             8      Cosponsor:Brent H. Goodfellow              9     
             10      LONG TITLE
             11      General Description:
             12          This joint resolution of the Legislature recognizes the rights of public school students to
             13      voluntarily participate in religious expression in public schools.
             14      Highlighted Provisions:
             15          This resolution:
             16          .    recognizes the rights of public school students to voluntarily engage in prayer and
             17      other expressions considered religious in nature in public schools.
             18      Special Clauses:
             19          None
             21      Be it resolved by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             22          WHEREAS, a firm understanding of the proper and lawful role of religious expression
             23      is requisite to full participation in public institutions;
             24          WHEREAS, a state of confusion and in some cases fear among the general citizenry
             25      exists as to the proper role of religious expression in public schools and other public settings;
             26          WHEREAS, the free exercise of religion is a fundamental right guaranteed by both the
             27      United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution;
             28          WHEREAS, the freedom of speech is a fundamental right guaranteed by both the
             29      United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution;

             30          WHEREAS, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, "Congress
             31      shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
             32      thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably
             33      to assemble";
             34          WHEREAS, the Utah Constitution states, "The rights of conscience shall never be
             35      infringed. The State shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting
             36      the free exercise thereof;...There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church
             37      dominate the State or interfere with its functions. No public money or property shall be
             38      appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support
             39      of any ecclesiastical establishment.";
             40          WHEREAS, the Utah Constitution also states: "No law shall be passed to abridge or
             41      restrain the freedom of speech or of the press";
             42          WHEREAS, prayer is fundamental to the exercise of both religion and free speech;
             43          WHEREAS, courts have upheld the right of students to spontaneously and
             44      nondisruptively pray in school settings, and school administrators and teachers are in no way
             45      permitted to discourage such religious expression, including prayer, by a student;
             46          WHEREAS, in the classroom, instruction covering religious subject matter is
             47      permitted, provided the teacher does not advocate religion in general or one or more religions
             48      in particular;
             49          WHEREAS, students participating in the singing of songs that are religious in theme,
             50      and expressions often related to holidays that are religious in nature, also enjoy legal protection
             51      under the state and federal constitutions;
             52          WHEREAS, the courts have established a three-part test for determining if a
             53      government action violates the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment to the
             54      United States Constitution: (1) the government action must have a secular (nonreligious)
             55      purpose; (2) the government action's primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance
             56      religion; and (3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion;
             57      and

             58          WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled the union-of-church-and-state
             59      ban applies only to circumstances that join a particular religious denomination and the state so
             60      that the two function in tandem on an ongoing basis:
             61          NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of Utah
             62      recognizes the right of public school students to voluntarily participate in prayer, and also in
             63      the singing of songs and in expressions related to holidays that are religious in nature, in public
             64      schools, within known legal limits of religious expression, tolerance, civility, and dignity as
             65      contemplated by this nation's founders.
             66          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent annually to each
             67      student currently enrolled in Utah's public schools, each parent of a student currently enrolled
             68      in Utah's public schools, the Utah Parent Teacher Association, the Utah Education Association,
             69      the Utah State Board of Education, the Utah State Office of Education, the Utah Association of
             70      Counties, and the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

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