Did School Prayer Just Become a Reality in a Louisiana School District? One Blogger Got to the Bottom of the Story

I’m a huge fan of bloggers who function as community watchdogs, making sure things like church/state separation are being respected in areas that larger media outlets may not be paying much attention to.

For months now, Randall Hayes has been tracking House Bill 660 in Louisiana, a bill sponsored by Democrat Katrina R. Jackson (below), that would have required all the state’s elementary and high schools to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

Last we heard, that bill had been renamed House Bill 724 and gutted to the point that no formal prayers would be allowed in school and no students would be required to participate.

On Tuesday, however, Randall noticed something strange in the Bastrop Enterprise newspaper:

House Bill No. 660 by Katrina Jackson, which re-introduced school prayer and the pledge of allegiance in Louisiana schools, was the main topic of discussion at the town hall meeting held by the Morehouse Parish School System on Friday night.

“We are excited to have open prayer back in schools,” Ferrell said.

What’s going on…? Randall thought House Bill 660 was defunct. And what’s this about “open prayers” in school? Did he miss something huge or was this a simple mistake?

He followed up with the story, contacting both the newspaper’s editor and the district’s superintendent, and got to the bottom of the story. You should read how it all went down here.

This is the sort of reporting any of us can do. We just have to keep on top of what’s going on in our communities and be willing to make some phone calls or write some emails. It’s really not hard, yet so few people do it.

Huge tip of my hat to Randall, for showing us how it’s done.

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.

  • The Other Weirdo

    After Rep. Katrina Jackson learned that her bill was obviously unconstitutional,…

    As an elected official, shouldn’t she have known this basic bit of Americana ahead of time?

    • C Peterson

      If we enforced that requirement, we’d have far fewer elected officials, especially in the third-world quadrant of the U.S.

    • WallofSleep

      If only we the people had a way to vet these candidates before we elected them…

    • baal

      I’ve asked several State level legislators the question from time to time, “how do you consider the constitutionality of the bills you pass?”. They all (both sides of the aisle) respond with some version of, “that’s a matter for the courts” or “if we worried about constitutionality we’d never pass anything”.

      • stop2wonder

        That’s a BS answer. They are taking the oath to protect the constitution not to pass the buck to the courts.

    • skinnercitycyclist

      “As an elected official, shouldn’t she have known this basic bit of Americana ahead of time?”

      No, because obviously the schools in Louisiana have better things to do than teach constitutional principles, history, or common sense. Does this person have anything beyond a high school education? And I feel I am being generous.

    • wombat

      Even if she (somehow) didn’t know, why aren’t the proposed bills looked over by some expert before they’re let loose on the house floor?

    • Randay

      As an Afro-American she is another sell-out who has accepted the former slave-owners xian ideology. She should be ashamed of herself.

      • Artor

        I won’t fault her for being an Xian, but this bullshit of ignoring the Constitution she was sworn to uphold is unforgivable.

  • dorcheat

    Bastrop, Louisiana started ringing alarm bells for me. Then I figured it out. I presume most of us remember Damon Fowler! Here is a link of Hemant’s writeup of what happened a few years ago with the high school graduation prayers.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/05/21/what-happened-at-damon-fowlers-graduation/

    I sure hope Damon is doing well these days. Maybe we can have an update!

  • EvolutionKills

    More proof that anyone that has any aspiration of holding any public office should be force to take, and pass, a college level civics course. This shit is getting tiresome…

  • stop2wonder

    These politicians swear an oath to obey and protect the Constitution without ever reading or caring what’s in it. There should be some repercussions when they do something this flagrant.

    I know many groups send out surveys to politicians on their stances on key issues important to them. Why don’t some of the constitutional watchdog groups actually send out tests to politicians testing them on their knowledge of the Constitution and important Supreme Court cases ?

    I don’t want someone representing me who doesn’t even know what’s in the document they are taking an oath to protect.

  • Ryan Hite

    Oh their gods…. What the heck? Is this a public school district?

  • brianz72

    My daughter just started kindergarten here in Cobb County, GA, where the creationists tried to put “warning stickers” in biology books in 2004. If this kind of horseshit is pulled here, there’s going to be a ruckus…

  • joshuaism

    The dude did fairly well but failed to verify that that Dr. Noflin and the school board understood that “open prayer” could only be conducted in locations not in use outside of instructional hours. It would be a shame if Morehouse Parish School’s decided to have student led prayers over the intercom during daily announcements.

    • RTH

      In our conversation Dr. Noflin and I discussed the substantive differences between HB 660 and HB 724. He was aware that these prayer groups could only meet during non-instructional time. He also told me that he had someone bring him the newspaper so he could read the Bastrop Enterprise article before he returned my call. That means he had a chance to familiarize himself with what I was talking about before our conversation began.

      I followed up my telephone conversation with Dr. Noflin with an email in which I asked him to remember that there are certainly non-Christians at his schools even if he isn’t aware of who they are, to make sure teachers know what the Establishment Clause does and does not allow, and to make sure teachers are watching for religion-based bullying and know that they are expected to combat that bullying.

      Randall

  • John

    Please contact Jackson and tell her what you think about her stupid bill… jacksonk@legis.la.gov


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