Nebraska targets ban on religious garb worn by teachers

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A law that bars Nebraska public school teachers from wearing habits, yarmulkes, burqas and other religious clothing could soon get overturned under a bill pending in the Legislature.

The bill presented at a hearing Tuesday would end Nebraska's ban on religious garb in classrooms, which was passed in 1919 under pressure from the Ku Klux Klan amid a national a wave of anti-Catholic sentiment.

The law is rarely enforced but came to a senator's attention after a Catholic nun applied for a substitute teaching job at a public high school in his district. Sister Madeleine Miller says a school administrator told her the law would not allow her to wear a habit while teaching, even though she had done so while teaching at a local state college.