Congressman Wants Government to Express Support for Prayer at School Board Meetings

Prayer is allowed at school board meetings just as it’s allowed in school. As long as the prayers are private, not disruptive, and done before the formal meeting, no one’s going to stop Christians from talking to their God.

But Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) wants the government to show its support to Christian prayers that take place during school board meetings. He just proposed House Resolution 250 (PDF) and his argument is essentially that Congress has invocations, so school boards should get to have them, too:

Whereas the United States was founded on the principle of freedom of religion and not freedom from religion;

Whereas in 1983 the Supreme Court of the United States held in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, that the practice of opening sessions of legislative bodies and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is so deeply embedded in the history and tradition of the United States that it has become part of the fabric of society, and invoking divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, but rather is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of the Nation;

Resolved, That the House of Representatives —

(1) recognizes that school boards are deliberative public bodies, and should be free to engage in prayer at the beginning of meetings;

(2) recognizes that school boards are deliberative public bodies, and should be free to engage in prayer at the beginning of meetings consistent with the prayer practice upheld in Marsh v. Chambers;

(3) recognizes that prayer before school board meetings is a protected act in accordance with the fundamental principles upon which the Nation was founded; and

(4) expresses support for the voluntary practice of prayer at the beginning of meetings of legislative bodies and other deliberative public bodies, including school board meetings.

The bill already has 43 co-sponsors.

The American Humanist Association believes this resolution would “encourage more school districts to pray at school board meetings and alienate nonreligious students, teachers, parents, and school administrators from their own communities” and is encouraging everyone to contact their representatives to express disapproval.

The bill wouldn’t change any existing laws but Congress has no business supporting faith over no faith or one religion over another. “Christianity” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the resolution but we all know Walberg isn’t talking about Islam when he encourages prayer.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.