Indiana Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) is the chair of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. Recently, she introduced a sensible piece of legislation.
It has to do with child-care facilities in religious places — churches, mosques, synagogues, etc. At the moment, none of them need licenses to operate and anyone can be a caregiver.
Summers’ legislation would require them to register with the state… and to meet certain standards. Caregivers would have to be at least 17 and enrolled in high school or 18 and have a high school diploma. The bill also would set ratios limiting the number of children caregivers can be responsible for and require ministries to report injuries to the state.
Another part of the bill would require the state government to conduct a criminal history background of the applicants before awarding them a license.
It all makes a lot of sense… right?
No one is telling the churches what to believe or what to teach the children.
This is strictly about the safety of the children.
So what’s the reaction to Summers’ bill?
Summers said she had become the target of a smear campaign by opponents of the bill who rallied even her own pastors against her and accused her of being an atheist.
“I have been called anything but a child of God because of this legislation,” Summers said, staring directly at Eric Miller of the conservative lobbying group Advance America.
(Hey, why is “atheist” an insult?!)
In any case, it’s just not true. Summers is a church-going Christian. Apparently, though, she’s the “wrong kind” of Christian. How dare she care about the children…?
Miller told his sheep that this bill would “lead to government intrusion into faith-based summer camps, vacation Bible schools, Sunday schools and after-school programs.”
Of course, it does nothing of the sort, but Miller doesn’t seem to care about the facts.
Look at how he spins this on his own website:
If House Bill 1036 passes, for the first time in over 30 years Indiana government would be able to tell a church:
- Who they could hire for their child care ministry!
- What education the workers in the child care ministry must have!
- How many children the church could have in the child care ministry!
The government would in effect be requiring the church to be licensed by the state if they want to have a child care ministry!
With this bill, churches could still hire anyone they want… after a background check. If the church doesn’t want to hire gays, atheists, Jews and blacks, they would be allowed to discriminate as they wish (since no public funds are being used).
The workers don’t need a PhD. They need to be enrolled in high school (at 17) or have a high school diploma (at 18+)… that’s enough education, I would hope, to make smart, basic decisions about the care of a child. I know that, in the case of an emergency, I would probably not want my kids’ lives in the hands of a couple 14-year-olds. This is just a logical move for the church.
There’s a limit to the number of children because one adult cannot reasonably take care of an overflow of children in the event of an emergency. Again, this is in the best interest of the children.
I doubt the people who listen to Harris have even read this bill.
Summers’ own pastor attests to this:
… [Summers'] associate pastor “came up and told me he was very disappointed in me,” she said. “My first question to him was, ‘Did you read the bill?’ He told me no.
At the moment, Summers has postponed discussion about this bill until this coming Friday.
If you can make it to the Indiana General Assembly to support this bill on Friday, I’m sure it would be a tremendous boost for Summers, who only wants what’s best for the children.