Republicans in Alabama have introduced legislation that would require public school teachers to lead students in a daily prayer. The legislation would require teachers in Alabama public school classrooms to recite a prayer at the beginning of every school day, for up to fifteen minutes.
The law would require teachers to perform a “verbatim reading of a congressional opening prayer.” That is, teachers would be required to read out loud to their students one of the opening prayers recited by chaplains or their guests before sessions of the U.S. Congress.
The Anniston Star reports State Rep. Steve Hurst (R) introduced the bill last month. The bill would require schools to set aside the first portion of the first class period every day “for study of the formal procedures followed by U.S. Congress,” which must include “a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers” given at the opening of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.
A Synopsis of the bill, HB318, reads:
This bill provides for a period of time in the public schools for studying the formal procedures of the United States Congress including the verbatim reading of a congressional opening prayer.
The following is an excerpt from the bill:
To prescribe a period of time in the public schools not to exceed 15 minutes for study of the formal procedures followed by the United States Congress, which study shall include a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers given by the House or Senate Chaplain or a guest member of the clergy at the beginning of a meeting of the United States House of Representatives or Senate.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:
Section 1. At the commencement of the first class of each day in all grades in all public schools, the teacher in charge of the room in which such class is held shall, for a period of time not exceeding 15 minutes, instruct the class in the formal procedures followed by the United States Congress. The study shall include, but not be limited to, a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers given by the House or Senate Chaplain or a guest member of the clergy at the beginning of a meeting of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Susan Watson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the bill was a clear attempt to sneak teacher-led prayer into schools through a back door.
“Religious practices and beliefs are best taught at home and in our religious institutions,” she said. “The Alabama Legislature can try to pass anything it wants, but our public schools must still abide by the United States Constitution.”
As the Friendly Atheist notes: “Of course, this is all well and good for Christians because the prayers always seem to reflect their beliefs…”
Raw Story confirms the obvious: the prayers would almost certainly be Christian in nature, simply because most chaplains of the U.S. House and Senate have been Christians.
This shameless attempt to force prayer into the public schools of Alabama is clearly unconstitutional, and yet another example of conservative Christians attempting to indoctrinate and corrupt innocent minds with their religious superstitions.