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Feb 14 2014

AL Legislator Wants 15 Minutes of Prayer in Schools

An Alabama state legislator has submitted a bill that would require every teacher to read a prayer before school every day — but it would be a prayer that was said by a Congressional chaplain, so that makes it merely “historical” rather than religious. Right.

Teachers in Alabama classrooms would be required to read a Congressional prayer every day under a bill filed in the state Legislature.

“If Congress can open with a prayer, and the state of Alabama Legislature can, I don’t see why schools can’t,” said Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, the bill’s sponsor.

Hurst’s bill would require schools to set aside the first portion of the first class period every day “for study of the formal procedures followed by U.S. Congress,” which must include “a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers” given at the opening of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.

Hurst said the bill would help students learn more about history and civics.

“They could read the prayer from the day war was declared in World War II,” he said. “They could read the prayer the day after Sept. 11.”

The bill would limit the daily instruction on congressional procedures to 15 minutes per day. That instruction could include teaching about other procedures of Congress, but would always include the reading of a prayer.

Here’s the language of the bill itself:

Section 1. At the commencement of the first class of each day in all grades in all public schools, the teacher in charge of the room in which such class is held shall, for a period of time not exceeding 15 minutes, instruct the class in the formal procedures followed by the United States Congress. The study shall include, but not be limited to, a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers given by the House or Senate Chaplain or a guest member of the clergy at the beginning of a meeting of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

They keep coming up with new ways to get around the First Amendment because they are absolutely obsessed with getting their religion into public schools, by any means necessary.

27 comments

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  1. 2
    roggg

    So it’s about teaching civics and the procedures of congress, but the only required act is the reading of the prayer. The rest is optional. Civics…right.

  2. 3
    Deen

    “If Congress can open with a prayer, and the state of Alabama Legislature can, I don’t see why schools can’t,” said Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, the bill’s sponsor.

    Good argument to stop having prayers in Congress, if you ask me.

  3. 4
    dhall

    Would a teacher be able to contest this by saying that being compelled to recite a prayer as part of the job would be an infringement of his/her constitutional rights? Can a state in effect force someone to pray?

  4. 5
    matty1

    Now you bring it up why does congress need chaplains and group prayer. Do the members not trust themselves to pray without someone leading it?

    More seriously I would have thought the same principles that prevent teachers leading their class in prayer would protect non-Christian members of congress from having to either sit through a prayer they don’t agree with or mark themselves as troublemakers by missing it.

  5. 6
    dugglebogey

    Is it because most of these people are lawyers that they don’t give two shits about the spirit of the law and are always trying to find loopholes so they can get what they want, even though the intention of the law is completely obvious? Or is that just human nature?

  6. 7
    iangould

    “a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers”

    I wonder how they’d react to the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist etc. opening prayers being read in class?

  7. 8
    Deen

    @dhall: those are indeed a few of the reasons school prayer has been ruled unconstitutional before.

  8. 9
    John Pieret

    They keep coming up with new ways to get around the First Amendment

    Low cunning at its finest.

  9. 10
    iangould

    As for what Hurst wants: he wants to be re-elected and/or to go on to higher political office and believes that getting stupid, gullible, religious people (no, that isn’t redundant) to vote for him will assist in that.

  10. 11
    John Pieret

    iangould @ 7:

    I wonder how they’d react to the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist etc. opening prayers being read in class?

    We already know, in a way, from the reaction to the time a Hindu chaplain opened the Senate’s daily session with a Hindu prayer:

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2007/07/12/hindu-prayers-and-christian-he-1/

  11. 12
    doublereed

    Congress prays??? I didn’t know that.

  12. 13
    Modusoperandi

    Teachers in Alabama classrooms would be required to read a Congressional prayer every day under a bill filed in the state Legislature.

    How are all those teachers going to make it to the state legislature every morning, much less all crowd underneath one bill?

     

    They keep coming up with new ways to get around the First Amendment because they are absolutely obsessed with getting their religion into public schools, by any means necessary.

    You Athiests get a whole hour every day for your Darwinism in “Science” class. I thought you Liberals believed in “fairness” and “equality”!

  13. 14
    Gregory in Seattle

    The only surprise here is that it’s taken this long for legislators in Alabama to think this one up. Ok, I suppose that slow thinking among Talibangelicals is not all that surprising.

    Except that lawmakers are adults who can exempt themselves from mandatory participation in prayer. School children are a completely captive audience who will be penalized if they decline to be preached at. Huge difference.

  14. 15
    Larry

    I’m all for it! After all, look at what its done for Congress.

  15. 16
    Alverant

    When Congress opened with a Buddhist prayer, christians went nuts too and interrupted the ceremony.

  16. 17
    matty1

    The fact schoolchildren are a captive audience is a great reason to prioritise the issue in schools over other situations but is not actually an argument *for* prayer anywhere else. Your constitution bars ‘establishment of religion’ and if making prayer part of the order of business for lawmakers is not establishment then nothing short of declaring an official Church of The USA is.

  17. 18
    Moggie

    Modusoperandi:

    How are all those teachers going to make it to the state legislature every morning, much less all crowd underneath one bill?

    Some bills are very large. Look at the pelican, for example.

    “They could read the prayer from the day war was declared in World War II,” he said. “They could read the prayer the day after Sept. 11.”

    He has a point. The could read the prayer, then learn how many people subsequently died. Useful lesson.

  18. 19
    lordshipmayhem

    I knew Congress preyed. Prayed? Rep. Steve Hurst may wish to check his spelling.

  19. 20
    d.c.wilson

    I wonder how they’d react to the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist etc. opening prayers being read in class?

    The same way that LA legislator reacted when she discovered that her bill giving taxpayer funds to religious schools also meant Muslim schools could get funding that way: Shock and surprise that other religions have rights, too.

  20. 21
    observer

    I further propose that we break that prayer time up into five, three minute chunks, and that we recite those prayers in Arabic while facing east. Think he’d go for that?

  21. 22
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    I’d have to check the record first, but as a teacher I could have fun with this. I’d find all of the non-Christian prayers (if any) and do a different religion every day. I’d turn it into an exploration of the multicultural and pluralistic nature of the country and government. Throw in some comparative-religion stuff while I’m at it. Que outraged parents in 3… 2… 1…

  22. 23
    magistramarla

    Liberal@22
    I was thinking the same thing. I taught Latin, so I was thinking that it would be a great time to introduce a philosophical phrase for the day in Latin for the students to translate into English and discuss.
    If they can think up loopholes, so can we!

  23. 24
    D. C. Sessions

    I’d have to check the record first, but as a teacher I could have fun with this. I’d find all of the non-Christian prayers (if any) and do a different religion every day.

    Back in the early 60s, that’s what my freshman English teacher did.

  24. 25
    Modusoperandi

    D. C. Sessions, what the hell was a freshman doing teaching?

  25. 26
    Georgia Sam

    It’s amusing, in a black-humor kind of way, how these people think they’re being so clever when they are actually being transparently dishonest & stupid.

  26. 27
    Red-Green in Blue

    @dhall:

    Would a teacher be able to contest this by saying that being compelled to recite a prayer as part of the job would be an infringement of his/her constitutional rights? Can a state in effect force someone to pray?

    Who says we’re forcing anyone to pray? All we’re doing is asking teachers to read something to their class! Anyway, if schoolchildren are old enough to get saved for Jesus, they’re old enough to realise that this is just ceremonial deism and definitely not government endorsement of religion!

    /snark

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