Mandatory prayer

Americans United reports on two – not one but two – bills under discussion in the Alabama legislature proposing a government establishment of religion.

One egregious bill, HB 318, would require public school teachers to recite prayers each morning at the beginning of school. Proponents of this bill have tried to create the illusion of constitutionality by specifying that the prayers must be the same ones recited by the United States Congress.

That’s quite a massive step up – from allowing to requiring.

HB 281 claims to allow religious student expression in public school classrooms, but actually is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Students can already observe their religion as long as it isn’t coercive or disrupt the school’s educational mission and activities.

HB 281 crosses that line. If passed, it would allow students to use the classroom to proselytize to fellow students. The bill doesn’t differentiate between personal observance, which is allowable, and outward promotion and proselytization of religion, which is blatantly unconstitutional.

Again, students are a captive audience required to be in school by law.

Well yes but that’s why. It’s such a golden opportunity to force religion on people whether they want it or not.



  1. says

    Maybe it would be different here, but when I was in ‘high school’ in the UK we had morning assembly, complete with prayers and a hymn.
    This was mandatory (apart from those damned lucky Catholics: there of course only being two religions).
    I think that made more of us turn out atheist than if they had just left us alone.
    I was actually in the choir for a time—we (many of us at least) sang rude contrafacta to the tunes (I still remember that old, favourite carol “While shepherds washed their socks by night / All seated on the ground, / The arsehole of the Lord came down / And made a farty sound”—hey we were immature back then).
    So I wonder if getting all that religion into schools wouldn’t eventually be counter-productive, from the pov of the christurds?

  2. Pluvian says

    I agree – there’s nothing like the tedium of a compulsory church service to make you realise it’s all bullshit. When everyone treats church like its one of those pointless things we make children do because ‘its good for them’ then it’s easy to outgrow it. I wonder if it would be different in the States though, where there a far more true believers.

  3. says

    Pluvian, yeah that’s what would worry me. When I was growing up most ‘believers’ were little old ladies who had been going to church since before the war (I or II)!

  4. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    Aren’t US state legislators required to take an oath to uphold the Constitution rather than subvert it? Aren’t there people who are familiar with how laws work (you know LAWYERS) who can sit these people down and say “No, you’re not allowed to do that. It says so right here. In this document you’ve sworn to uphold, in this document which is one of the foundations upon which all our laws are built and against which all our laws are tested. It says right here that you can’t do tha. We won’t even put it into the legislature for a vote. Because it says RIGHT HERE that you MAY NOT DO THIS”?

    Do these people live in a vacuum wherein no news of all the other failed attempts to do exactly the same thing ever intrudes? Isn’t one definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again in expectation of a different outcome? Maybe they hope to succeed through shear bloody persistence, that at some point all the courts will just surrender and say “Screw it, go ahead?” These same would-be subverters would be the first to man the barricades if the state was enforcing mandatory prayers that were not Christian.

  5. cottonnero says

    Your Name’s Not Bruce? #4: I think they’re playing a slightly different game than the one you’re envisioning. It doesn’t matter that it’s unconstitutional, it only matters that you are seen to be Standing Up For Jesus among your constituents. If it gets struck down, that’s just Activist Judges Legislating From The Bench. It’s not about what improvements you’ve made to the law, it’s about how long you can convince angry people to send you money.

  6. Silentbob says

    It’s such a golden opportunity to force religion on people whether they want it or not.

    … while they’re young and there to learn and therefore, most vulnerable.

  7. Wayne Turner says

    I think that for the dominionists, it’s a critical step in forcing religion into the public sphere, and not just by prosolytizing school children. If the schools fall prey to this nationwide, then opening prayer arguments in other government functions become much easier to win or withstand challenge. Because of the overlap in function w between business and civic leaders, society might be confronted with (more) businesses that feel safe forcing their employees to follow religious mandates. At some point protection for non-Christian religions would break down, and we would be back in the middle-ages. It’s a short step from there to nationwide religious law.


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