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Nebraska Lawmaker Proposes Banning 'Religious Indoctrination Camps' in Response to Ban on All-Age Drag Shows

‘It’s a device to make a point,’ said state Senator Megan Hunt

A state senator in Nebraska has proposed banning any youth-oriented activity or center run by religious groups for the purpose of “indoctrinating children with a specific set of religious beliefs.”

State Senator Megan Hunt, a Democrat, wants to amend a bill that would make bringing a minor to a drag show a misdemeanor to include a prohibition on religious camps. 

Hunt says that Legislative Bill 371 “won’t pass” and that she would withdraw her amendment if the bill “had the votes to pass.”

This is an amendment that I will use to make a point about the underlying bill,” Hunt tweeted. “It’s a device to make a point. We need not clench nor worry.”

Hunt has proposed banning “religious indoctrination camps,” which she says includes any “camp, vacation Bible study, retreat, lock-in, or convention held by a church, youth group, or religious organization for the purpose of indoctrinating children with a specific set of religious beliefs.”

The amendment reads:

The Legislature finds that there is a well-documented history of indoctrination and sexual abuse perpetrated by religious leaders and clergy people upon children. Abusers within churches and other religious institutions often use events like church or you-group sponsored camps and retreats to earn children’s trust and gain unsupervised access to such children in order to commit such abuse.

Anyone under the age of 19 would not be permitted to attend “religious indoctrination camps.” Moreover, those over the age of 19 who knowingly bring someone under 19 to one of these prohibited places or activities could be charged with a misdemeanor – mirroring the regulations proposed in LB 371, wherein violations of the ban would be punishable with up to a $10,000 fine.

Hunt first took office in 2019. Her legislative objectives for the current session include “protecting access to safe and legal abortion in Nebraska, protecting the rights of LGBTQ Nebraskans, particularly trans Nebraskans and LGBT students; and protecting Nebraska’s secure system of free and fair elections.”

Hunt has described LB 371 as an “unconstitutional censorship attempt to put an age limit on drag shows” and said there is “no danger in drag shows” and that parents need not be prevented from taking children to drag shows or drag queen story hours.

“I have already filed a motion to indefinitely postpone it, which would kill the bill,” she wrote in a blog post addressed to her constituents. Her efforts to stop the bill are supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, which said the policy was part of “a coordinated national effort to push LGBTQ+ people out of public life.”

State Senator David Murman, who introduced the all-age drag show ban, said the policy would help protect underage children.

“I think the vast majority of Nebraskans would agree that sexualized dancing and enhanced genitals is not appropriate for children to view,” he said, per Nebraska Public Media. “Adults, whatever they want to do, whatever. But children, we need to protect them from being oversexualized and overstimulated, I guess, as children.”

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