An effort to repeal Nebraska’s ban on public school teachers wearing religious garb in the classroom advances in the Unicameral after legislators overcome the opposition of one senator.
Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk sponsors LB 62 that would allow teachers to wear religious garb and symbols in the public classroom, repealing a 100-year-old ban Scheer insisted few knew existed.
“That doesn’t mean they are teaching that religion. It is not that they are impugning that language on their students,” Scheer told colleagues during legislative debate. “It just simply means it was part of their attire.”
The bill faced little opposition. In fact, it faced only one adamant opponent: Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha.
Chambers argued the bill would foist religion on children required to attend public schools. He said it would violate the spirt of separation of church and state. Chambers held up a first-round vote on the bill for two days.
At one point, Chambers attempted to modify the bill, removing the punishment provision in the current law.
“This that I am asking you to do is not a vote against religion,” Chambers told colleagues during floor debate. “It’s a vote for all of them to be on the same footing.”
LB 62 advanced on a 36-1 vote, with eight senators not voting.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]