Ohio Bill to Protect Students when Religious Answers Compete with Science


A religious liberty bill passed in the Ohio House that seeks to protect students from being penalized when their answers to test questions conform to their religious beliefs rather than those of scientific theories.

The bill, known as House Bill 164 and as the Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019, has passed in the Ohio House of Representatives, but still needs to go to the state Senate before becoming law.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Tim Ginter, says that the intention of the bill is to clarify existing Ohio law as to what can and can’t go occur in schools regarding religion.

Will not penalize or reward students for religious answers

The bill will protect students who submit religion-based answers to test questions and, at the same time, the law will not reward a student for religious beliefs either.

A provision in the legislation mandates that teachers “shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of the student’s work.”

While the bill may remove some restrictions on students’ religious rights, the greater advantage is that it prevents them from being penalized for adhering to their religious beliefs.

Protections against theory of evolution and more

A prime example of the protections that the new law will offer is against the theory of evolution, which contradicts the teachings of creation in the Bible.

Charles Darwin’s work on the theory of evolution put forth in his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species,” has become the core scientific viewpoint for how life on earth was created.

On the other hand, the Bible states:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

–Genesis 1:1

If the bill becomes law in Ohio, a student who does not choose evolution as the answer to creation would not be penalized as submitting a wrong answer.

Another example would be the age of the Earth. Science says that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, but some Christian denominations teach that the Earth is 6,000 years old (some say 10,000), based on a literal interpretation of the timeline from the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Additionally, students could currently be penalized for turning in a creative writing work – be it a story or poem – that was based on religion. Under the new law, such writings would be allowed.