South Carolina Democrats back bill calling for mandatory daily prayers in public schools

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, January 2, 2014 12:13 EDT
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Cheerleader praying (Shutterstock)
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State lawmakers in South Carolina are pushing for legislation that would mandate prayer sessions in schools.

The bill, H. 3526, would require teachers to lead a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day, during which the teacher would be allowed to deliver a prayer. Students who didn’t not want to participate would be allowed to leave the classroom.

Most of the legislation’s sponsors are Democrats. It was introduced by Reps. Wendell Gilliard (D), Robert Williams (D), Joseph Jefferson (D), Carl Anderson (D), Liston Barfield (R), Bill Clyburn (D), Heather Ammons Crawford (R), Lonnie Hosey (D), Robert Ridgeway III (D), and Don Wells (R).

The bill was introduced in February 2013, but is currently stuck in the House Committee on Judiciary.

The Supreme Court has held that teacher-led prayer constitutes a government endorsement of religion and violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The lawmakers said they were willing to compromise on that point.

“The compromise would be to have the students to pray to whomever they want to. If they want to do away with teachers conducting the prayer that would be fine with us. The essential part of the bill, the important part, is putting prayer back in school,” Gilliard told WCIV.

“There would be no noise, no disruption, no anything. But the teacher would conduct it to let the students know we would have one minute for a moment of silence of prayer. That person can pray to whomever they please,” he added.

[Cheerleader praying via Shutterstock]

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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