South Carolina Democrats back bill calling for mandatory daily prayers in public schools

State lawmakers in South Carolina are pushing for legislation that would mandate prayer sessions in schools.

The bill, H. 3526, would require teachers to lead a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day, during which the teacher would be allowed to deliver a prayer. Students who didn’t not want to participate would be allowed to leave the classroom.

Most of the legislation’s sponsors are Democrats. It was introduced by Reps. Wendell Gilliard (D), Robert Williams (D), Joseph Jefferson (D), Carl Anderson (D), Liston Barfield (R), Bill Clyburn (D), Heather Ammons Crawford (R), Lonnie Hosey (D), Robert Ridgeway III (D), and Don Wells (R).

The bill was introduced in February 2013, but is currently stuck in the House Committee on Judiciary.

The Supreme Court has held that teacher-led prayer constitutes a government endorsement of religion and violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The lawmakers said they were willing to compromise on that point.

“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,” Gilliard told WCIV.

“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,” he added.

 

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