On Wednesday, Representative Mike Johnson, R-LA, introduced H.R. 6213, the “History and Tradition Protection Act of 2018,” to combat the “abuse” of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
A press release from Johnson says the Establishment Clause “was intended to serve as a shield for people of faith, but has been twisted and perverted into a powerful weapon to be used against them.”
The bill, which has 34 original cosponsors, would abolish the award of monetary damages and attorney fees in Establishment Clause cases where a plaintiff complains of (1) any monument, memorial, statue, or other figure containing religious words, imagery or symbolism, (2) a public building containing religious words, imagery or symbolism, (3) the presence of religious words, imagery or symbolism in official seals and flags, or (4) religious expression in the context of the proceedings of any deliberative body.
“Religious symbols and expression are deeply embedded in the history and tradition of our country, but for more than a half-century, radical secularist organizations have engaged in an aggressive campaign of fear, intimidation and disinformation in their quest to rid the public square of all religious symbols, history and expression,” Johnson said.
“We must protect the principles on which our nation was founded. My legislation will ensure activists can no longer profit off the abuse of our laws, so we can better protect the religious liberties of all Americans.”
The press release claims Johnson’s bill would remove the financial incentive for secularists and their lawyers to “feign offense” and advance their agenda.
This legislation comes in a year of intense Establishment Clause legal controversy for northwest Louisiana, as both the Webster and Bossier Parish school systems have been sued for allegedly promoting Christianity in schools.
Some of the accusations in the lawsuit against Webster Parish, which is in the late stages of settlement, are relevant to this legislation, such as posters with religious messages being displayed in local classrooms.