Virginia Governor Vetoes Student Religious Freedom Bill

McAuliffe Credit Kate WellingtonRICHMOND, Va. — The Democratic governor of Virginia vetoed a bill on Friday that aimed to reinforce the religious rights of students, stating that it infringes on other student’s desires to be free from “coercive prayer and religious messaging” at school events.

As previously reported, Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) introduced SB 236 this year as part of his longtime fight for faith in the public arena. The legislation reinforces students’ rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to be open about their faith without retribution or restriction.

Text of the bill outlines that it “[c]odifies the right of students to (i) voluntarily pray or engage in religious activities or religious expression before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression; (ii) organize prayer groups, religious clubs, ‘see you at the pole’ gatherings, or other religious gatherings before, during, and after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other activities and groups; and (iii) wear clothing, accessories, or jewelry that display religious messages or religious symbols in the same manner and to the same extent that other types of clothing, accessories, and jewelry are permitted.”

The Senate passed the bill 20-18 in January, with the House following suit 64-34 last month. It then headed to Governor Terry McAuliffe, who had vowed to veto the legislation should it come to his desk.

“He’s very concerned about the constitutionality of the bill, but he’s also concerned about the unintended consequences,” spokesman Brian Coy told the Roanoke Times.

But Carrico remarked that McAuliffe holds to a double standard in regard to American liberty by showing partiality toward homosexuals while denying freedom for Christians.

“As the Bible calls [McAuliffe] a double-minded man, if he’s going to veto a freedom of expression for students in school on religious viewpoints, yet his first executive order he signs is a freedom for sexual orientation—[for] bisexual people to express themselves, I find a little double standard there,” he said.

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On Friday, McAuliffe followed through with the veto, issuing a lengthy statement explaining his reasons for opposition.

“Although proponents claim that SB 236 is needed to protect the religious freedom of Virginia’s public school students, the bill actually infringes on students’ right to be free from coercive prayer and religious messaging at both voluntary and required school events,” he wrote. “SB 236 would likely subject school divisions to extensive and costly litigation.”

McAuliffe also stated that he believes the bill is unnecessary as the “freedom of religious expression is already protected from intrusion by Virginia school divisions.”

Carrico expressed his disappointment following the announcement.

“It appears that he would rather stand with the ACLU and other far-left interest groups instead of with students of faith throughout the Commonwealth,” he said. “This veto is yet another example of a governor who campaigned as a moderate and is governing as an extremist.”

Christian groups in the state now hope that the General Assembly will seek to override McAuliffe’s veto with a two-thirds vote.

Photo: Kate Wellington

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  • Jay

    Ezekiel 16: (NIV)
    49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. 51 Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. 52 Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.


    My advice, never ever allow yourself into taking the “UNBIBLICAL” stance that all criticism from unbelievers is unjustified.

    People that are not Christians are still people. They can be right and also honest as well as manipulative and deceitful.

    Of course, people that are Christian can be deceitful and manipulative as well. And one of the main “Christian” manipulations is getting tricked into that old bunker mentality where all criticism from the outside is devilish. Some ministers pick up that sentiment and just do not know any better. Some deliberately use that sentiment to keep you in line behind them and away from reason.

    So as concerning this article, I’d hear them out when they say that in spite of the seemingly unbiased ordinance that they know that Christians will take advantage….just consider.


    Romans 2 (1599 Geneva Bible)
    19 And persuadest thyself that thou art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
    20 An instructor of them which lack discretion, a teacher of the unlearned, which hast the [w]form of knowledge, and of the truth in the [x]law.
    21 Thou therefore, which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest, A man should not steal, dost thou steal?
    22 Thou that sayest, A man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, committest thou sacrilege?
    23 Thou that gloriest in the Law, through breaking the Law, dishonorest thou God?
    24 For the Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.


    p.s. Ezekiel 16:49,50 didn’t even mention Sodom’s homosexuality….why does everybody else?

    • James J. Grimes

      “My advice, never ever allow yourself into taking the “UNBIBLICAL” stance that all criticism from unbelievers is unjustified.”

      Are you suggesting that we give credence to the militant Atheists and gays and the nasty things they say about believers? There are too many of them who troll this site to denounce what we believe.

  • RosaVera

    i say override the veto and let this anti-Christian understand that Virginians want this bill to pass. Why get upset, fight to make sure the bill passes in an override… if Ken Cuccinelli had been elected this monster governor would not be passing laws that give rights to homosexuals and not to Christians…

    Do not get depressed, i say to all Virginians fight and override this veto…send a message to the governor and to Washington.