Indiana House Education Committee Passes School Prayer Bill; When Will Praying Be Restored In Schools?
Indiana's lawmakers have passed a bill proposing to bring back the practice of reciting school prayers. By a vote of 10-2, the bill authored by Democratic Rep. John Bartlett allowing students to say prayers out loud if they want to, but it should not be treated as a strict mandate in schools.
As stated in the provisions in HB 1024, schools must be open to religious expression among students. If the kids prefer to pray before, during and after classes, then the school must be accommodating of this gesture.
Indiana schools must also provide the same privilege and access to facilities for religious groups as secular groups. Indiana schools must also allow students to display their religious inclinations without prejudice.
Bartlett said he decided to sponsor the bill to restore values that have been forgotten due to various social ills, according to Indy Star. Proponents of the bill believe that not praying or outwardly expressing religion have contributed to the rise in suicide, substance abuse and family problems among student, especially since school-led prayers have been deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court since 1962.
Even as the bill has been passed, some still questioned the rationale behind it. Indiana's existing state laws do not have any opposition when it comes to voluntary prayers in schools. Proposing and passing the school prayer bill could be seen as useless as the kids can freely do this anyway.
"Many of these things are already available under the First Amendment," Republican Rep. Robert Behning said, according to another Indy Star report. "A lot of it has been created by case law - there's no law that defines it in a succinct way."
The more vocal critics of the bill cited that it could bring more issues for schools who are pressed to accommodate all religions, which could entail more work and effort to control. Following the passing of the bill, the House will deliberate over it on the floor in the next few weeks.