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Religious education bill with school chaplains language one step closer to Indiana governor's desk

A page of the bible opened atop a school workbook.
Lauren Chapman
Both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly need to agree on a final version of the bill before it can be sent to the governor.

An amended House bill that requires school corporations to release students for religious education during the school day passed the Senate this week. However, both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly need to agree on a final version of the bill before it can be sent to the governor.

House Bill 1137 says schools must work with religious education organizations to release approved students for faith-based instruction.

Currently, schools have a choice whether to approve that release for students. The bill would eliminate that option, mandating schools to release students for religious education when it’s requested.

A Senate committee also added language from a different bill that would allow chaplains to fill in as school counselors for students and staff. The provision would require chaplains to only serve in a secular capacity unless a student’s parents say their child may receive spiritual guidance.

READ MORE: Bill to put chaplains in schools derailed – but language added to religious instruction measure

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 765-275-1120. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues, including our project Civically, Indiana and our 2024 legislative bill tracker.

Some lawmakers expressed concerns about the bill, such as how school administrators will choose between chaplain candidates from different spiritual backgrounds.

The bill must receive approval from both the House and Senate to move forward. A committee composed of members from both chambers will work to resolve concerns about the bill.

Kirsten is IPB's education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

Copyright 2024 IPB News.

Kirsten Adair

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