Heated Debate Over Religious Dress Law

February 15, 2010

Author: Charles Lewis

Source: National Post


A heated debate is underway in Oregon over whether a 90-year-old law that bans teachers from wearing religious dress in the classroom should be repealed.

Supporters say the law is the best way to prevent classrooms from becoming sectarian battlegrounds and ensure schools remain havens of religious neutrality.

For opponents, it's a vestige of a dark time in Oregon's history when the influence of the Ku Klux Klan was strong and legislation was needed to keep foreign influences out of the classrooms.

The sponsor of the 1923 bill was Kaspar K. Kubli, Republican Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, whose initials were considered a fortunate coincidence.

Only Oregon, Nebraska and Pennsylvania have such legislation. But civil libertarians in Oregon say, regardless of the law's pedigree, it is needed to protect students from unwanted religious influences.