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Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act

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The Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act is ironic and discriminatory in that it contains language that does not promote or protect religious freedom:

“No teacher in any public school shall wear any religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher. A school district, education service district or public charter school does not commit an unlawful employment practice under ORS chapter 659A by reason of prohibiting a teacher from wearing religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher.”

via the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):

“This legislation forces Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and others to choose between their faith and entering the teaching profession,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Those who wear religiously-mandated attire are not proselytizing; they are practicing their faith, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Concerns about religious neutrality in schools can be adequately addressed through professional codes of conduct.”

He said the legislation also raises the question of whether a Christian or Jewish teacher wearing a prominent cross or Star of David would face removal from his or her teaching position.

Written by Eric Stoller

July 16th, 2009 at 6:57 pm

  • http://www.religiousliberty.tv Michael Peabody

    This protest does not make sense. If SB 786 is vetoed, employers, including public schools, will be able to continue to prohibit religious garb in the workplace.

    Right now, Oregon has an existing law on its books that prohibits all teachers from wearing any religious garb. (See http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/342.html ) (The current statute reads: 342.650 Wearing of religious dress prohibited. No teacher in any public school shall wear any religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher. [Amended by 1965 c.100 ยง387])

    SB 786 leaves this existing provision alone yet provides religious people with the ability to wear religious garb in other workplaces where they are currently prohibited. SB 786 is an expansion of rights not a contraction.

    Should Oregon revisit the prohibition on religious dress for teachers? Yes. But doing so does not require the denial of rights of other workers in a variety of industries. SB 786 is a tremendous step forward in the right direction.

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