January 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

After a national controversy erupted, the Michigan legislature has passed an anti-bullying bill that does not include an exemption for religious beliefs.

The state Senate in early November had passed a measure to deal with bullying in public schools, but it included an exemption for anyone who acts out of “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” This provision drew considerable criticism from across the country, even drawing a mocking from Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert.

“Bullying is just fine, as long as you get a permission slip from God,” Colbert said.

The Michigan House of Representatives thought better of the religious exemption after seeing how upset it made people and passed an amended measure that doesn’t include it.

Even the state legislator who sponsored the original version of the bill, Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), backed away from the Senate version.

On Nov. 29, the Senate voted 35-2 to pass the House measure without the problematic exemption.