Indiana lawmaker pushing for schools to require daily prayer
The Indiana state senator who lost his bid for creationism to be part of public education is now proposing that schools have the option of engaging in a daily Christian prayer.
According to The Indianapolis Star, state Sen. Dennis Kruse (R) has filed a bill allowing school districts to make recitation of the Lord’s Prayer a daily requirement, while allowing individual students to decline.
However, the bill has already been shuffled off to the state Senate’s rules and legislative procedure committee by President Pro Tempore Sen. David Long (R), who told the newspaper his instincts thought it was unconstitutional. Long also said he believed Kruse, who chairs the group’s Education and Career Development Committee, intended the bill to make a statement.
If so, it’s a statement that was troubling to Andrew Seidel, a staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who called the bill “blatantly unconstitutional,” pointing out that students already have the right to individual prayer.
“The only purpose of this law is to encourage prayer out of students and to ostracize students who may not want to pray,” Seidel said. “Bullying is a huge issue in schools right now, and to have students have to out themselves (by refusing to go along with a prayer they don’t believe in) is going to open the whole atheist community up to bullying. It’s very disturbing.”
Last month, Kruse also promised to introduce legislation requiring teachers to show “truth of education” by allowing students to question scientific principles like the theory of evolution. A bill he proposed calling for “creation science” to be part of public curriculum was passed last February, but vetoed by state House Speaker Rep. Brian Bosma (R), who said defending it would incur too many legal costs.
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