Friday, 3 January 2014

The school prayer bill, in America...

The school prayer bill, in America...
Students in South Carolina schools could soon be forced to say prayers in their classrooms, if this law passes. So much for separation of church and state.

South Carolina schools could soon be forced to conduct prayer in the classroom if a piece of legislation is passed this year. And it’s not only Republicans who seek to violate the separation of church and state. It’s mostly Democrats.

South Carolina Democrats sponsored a bill to force prayer in schools.
Despite multiple Supreme Court rulings that prohibit school sponsored prayer, several South Carolina Democrats are seeking to force its re-introduction. Last February, eight Democrats and two Republicans introduced H. 3526 in the statehouse.

According to the text of the bill,

“All schools shall provide for a minute of mandatory silence at the beginning of each school day, during which time the teacher may deliver a prayer, provided the school allows a student to leave the classroom if the student does not want to listen to or participate in the prayer.”

To recap, lawmakers want teachers to lead a forced prayer every morning with students. Democratic state Rep. Wendell Gilliard thinks this whole thing is one big compromise as long as students are allowed to pray to whomever they want or opt out altogether.

“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. 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.” (SOURCE)

Gilliard and his fellow lawmakers must not have ever read the various Supreme Court rulings on school prayer.

The Supreme Court has struck down school prayer on multiple occasions because it violates Constitutional rights.
In 1962, the Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale that school prayer violates the Constitution even if it is religion neutral. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if prayer is silent or if students are allowed to be excused if they don’t want to participate. In 1985, the Court once again ruled against school prayer after Alabama tried to allow a one minute time period for prayer. And in 2000, the Court ruled against student-led prayer. In other words, mandatory school prayer, whether it is conducted by a teacher or a student, violates the Constitution. There is no compromise here. That means the South Carolina bill is unconstitutional.

Prayer in school is already allowed, but it’s up to each individual student to decide for themselves when to pray and what deity to pray to. As long as students pray silently and don’t disrupt class or violate the rights of other students, praying in school is perfectly legal. But a law forcing schools to hold mandatory prayer sessions every day in class is a blatant disregard of the establishment clause, not to mention the religious rights of students. Some students may feel pressured to sit through the prayer for fear of angering their teacher or fellow classmates. Such a program would allow the identification of atheists, agnostics, and those who practice other religions besides Christianity. For instance, let’s say a student is a Muslim. In order for a Muslim to pray they must wash their hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, and feet. They then must face a certain direction in order to pray towards Mecca. This process takes a little time, and therefore would require longer than a “moment of silence” to perform. By then, all students in the classroom, including the teacher, will know what student to persecute on a daily basis. Furthermore, what about small children? Many of them won’t understand religion or their rights. In short, it’s unlikely any of them will leave the room when their teacher begins to indoctrinate them to adopt a religious view.

This school prayer bill is about forcing religion upon students.
This school prayer bill is about forcing Christianity into schools more than it is about religious freedom. Sure, students can leave, provided they’re old enough to understand what’s going on in the first place. But students who leave just make themselves targets for bullying. And students who simply can’t bow their heads and say a silent prayer would be immediately discriminated against since it is unlikely that a teacher would allow students to take more time to properly perform a prayer as their religion commands.

Prayer isn’t simple. People practice a variety of beliefs in this country. Many Christians even practice praying correctly by doing it in private as Jesus commands. And it’s likely many parents would object to their children being subjected to daily mandatory prayer. Teachers have a tremendous amount of influence and power over students. It wouldn’t take much for a teacher to force their own religious views upon them. As such, all of this means you can bet that a lawsuit would be filed before the first prayer session even begins. Schools across South Carolina would face lawsuit upon lawsuit, and those cost money. Taxpayers would also be forced to waste money defending legislation that is already unconstitutional.

These Democrats should be ashamed of themselves.
This is the kind of stunt that most of us would expect to come from Republicans. Unfortunately, eight South Carolina Democrats are sponsors of the bill. To date, the bill remains in limbo in the House Committee on Judiciary but Democratic Reps. Wendell Gilliard, Robert Williams, Joseph Jefferson, Carl Anderson, Bill Clyburn, Lonnie Hosey, and Robert Ridgeway III should be ashamed of themselves. Schools are places for learning, not worshiping. That’s what churches are for. Forcing religion upon kids is wrong and these eight politicians should be booted out of the Democratic Party for it.
(I like American school uniforms)

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