Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse, a Republican, introduced a bill on Thursday, January 4, that would authorize public school districts to require students to say the Lord’s Prayer in public classrooms. Students, however, could opt out if they or their parents chose to do so, according to Opposing Views.
Part of the bill reads: “In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen, the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school may require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. The prayer may be recited by a teacher, a student, or the class of students.”
The article notes, “However, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that mandating school prayer is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
The Inquisitor pointed out that the Republican senator tried to introduce legislation last year requiring schools to teach creationism and evolution as equally valid theories. His proposal which he refers to as “truth in education,” would require science teachers to provide students “proof” if they question or challenge anything during their science lessons.
Critics feel that Kruse’s proposal is simply a clever tactic to introduce topics, such as religion, into scientific discussion in the classroom.
According to indystar.com, others have argued that it is actually a valid compromise. Micah Clark, executive director of American Family Association of Indiana, states that the legislation actually protects the teachers as they would simply be answering questions. He also points out that similar legislation has passed in Louisiana and Tennessee.
Senator Kruse’s new bill introducing The Lord’s Prayer in schools, is not likely to pass according to thinkprogress.org. Even his republican supporters seem leery about the bill. Republican Senate President Pro Tempore has stated that the bill has been assigned to what they refer to as a “graveyard for legislation.
In discussing prayer in public schools, a name that invariably comes up is Madalyn Murray O'Hair, once described by Time magazine as "the most hated woman in America." O'Hair made headlines when she objected to her eldest son, William, participating in Bible readings in the Baltimore public schools. According to atheism about.com, her case was later combined with another from Pennsylvania, Abbington School District v. Schempp, in which the Supreme Court invalidated such practices in public schools across the country.
People commonly credit Murray O'Hair, who later founded the American Atheists, with getting prayer removed from public schools. Her son William Murray, who was involved in the celebrated litigation, later became a committed Christian. He describes being raised by America’s most famous atheist in what has been called a “riveting and redemptive” book, My Life without God. Murray acknowledges the lasting negative impact that his mother had on the gradual worsening of conditions in public education, culminating in the recent Newtown massacre: “My mother, atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, fought to make the public schools the armed camps they are today by removing prayer, the recognition of the authority of God.”
Indiana Senator Kruse’s proposal is an attempt to put prayer back into the public schools, in Indiana, at least.