Bill Seeks To Return To Prayer To Schools

July 23, 2009

A bill authorizing prayer in public schools has been filed for consideration in next year’s legislative session, despite the ACLU and court rulings in Santa Rosa County.

Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, this week filed HB 31, released from bill drafting on Wednesday, that would allow school boards to permit prayer at a non-mandatory school event, such as an assembly, sporting event or other school-related activity. The bill has been proposed regularly over the past several years, but generally failed to gain any traction. Last year, neither the House or Senate versions even came to a committee vote.

“I don’t think it’s fundamentally right when 700 kids want to pray in school and three are against it, the government sides with those three and prohibits children from having the opportunity to pray to God in our schools,” Drake said.

Drake, who campaigned on the issue, said it will be one of his top priorities for the upcoming legislative session. He said he has not yet spoken with Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, who sponsored the Senate version last year, but said he would ask her to do so again this year.

The measure would allow district courts to “permit the delivery of an inspirational message, including a prayer or an invocation, at a non-compulsory high school activity, including a student assembly, a sports event, or other school related activity if a majority of the participating students request the delivery of an inspirational message and select a student representative to deliver the message.”

The bill has been typically opposed by the Anti-Defamation League and other civil rights organizations. However, the issue continues to be a hot topic around the country.

Courtenay Strickland, director of public policy and advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union, said if the bill ever passed, the ACLU would likely challenge it in court. She also said the organization was concerned that schools would be “hung out to dry” if the school authorized a prayer under the law and was then sued by the family of a student.

“People’s ability to practice their religious freedom and their religious beliefs – or lack thereof – is a core American value,” Strickland said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 34 states have laws on the books regarding a moment of silence or school prayer. These include neighboring states Georgia and Alabama, which both say teachers must conduct a moment of reflection for no longer than one minute each school day.

Illinois may have had the most stringent law, which said that teachers shall observe a period of silence for silent prayer or reflection on the anticipated activities of the day. However, a federal court ruled the bill unconstitutional earlier this year.

In legislative analysis of last year’s Florida Senate version, analysts wrote that the bill could be subject to a constitutional challenge.

The issue has been the subject of litigation for years in Florida and elsewhere. Duval County’s schools were embroiled in a fight over the issue in the early 2000s and most recently the ACLU and two Pace High School students sued the Santa Rosa County School District in the Panhandle over the alleged promotion of prayer at school events. A federal judge in May found in favor of the students and a consent decree prevented promotion of prayer. Several students later held a prayer protest at their graduation.


18 Responses to “Bill Seeks To Return To Prayer To Schools”

  1. Curmudgeon on March 23rd, 2010 1:14 pm

    I’m wondering just how “tolerant” many of those writing here will be if and when the students want to have an “inspirational” message delivered by a member of the Wicca faith or the Pagan faith.

  2. Root on March 19th, 2010 3:49 pm

    J.G. wrote: Christianity is what this country was based on

    The proof is that the 1st amendment clearly violates the 1st commandment.

  3. Root on March 19th, 2010 3:46 pm

    Since the constitution was written to allow as much equality among citizens as possible, a good test of constitutional virtue is to take the reverse of the proposal and see if it still makes sense.

    “I DO think it’s fundamentally right when 700 kids DO NOT want to pray in school and three are FOR it, the government sides with those three and prohibits children from having the opportunity to NOT pray to God in our schools,”

    This one fails to remain sensible. Thus, it’s likely an unconstitutional position.

  4. Andrea on September 12th, 2009 4:19 pm

    God is the author and the finisher of all of our lives. If it was not for him we would not be here. I prey that change will come to the mine of those that feel that we should not have prayer in school. If those who do not want that let them sent their children to private school or home school them. If they don’t believe in God let the rocks cry out for them and their families. That is the problem with the world to day. Children are brainwashed from the families that they live with to hate and one thing that we know that is the devil job to hate because God is all about love. Religion is the only way it is God way being an idiot for good is a good thing being an idiot for the devil well that is something else and yes it is a free country and that why we love God. Prey more, more power, prey little , little power God can and he will do just what he said.

  5. J.G on July 29th, 2009 4:30 pm

    I don’t understand why this is even a problem. Prayer should have never been taken out of schools in the first place. Christianity is what this country was based on, go look up quotes of our founding fathers and see what they have to say on the matter.
    Example: It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible – George Washington.
    Noah webster (the founder of education in America says, ” Government is responsible to: Disipline our youth in early life in sound maxims of moral, political, and religious duties. Education is useless without the Bible.”

    If anyting it is unconstitutional to have God taken out of our government and our schools. This is what our country was founded on. This is what America is. Not that you don’t have the right to practice your own religion, but you can’t tell us we can’t practice ours.
    America is free and you have the freedom not to be here if you don’t like what our country stands for. If we change what America was founded on , it will not be America anymore.

  6. Marge on July 28th, 2009 9:46 pm

    Christians & “Hate” Bills

    If “hate bill”-obsessed Congress [and Obama] can’t protect Christians from “gays” as much as it wants to protect “gays” from Christians, will Congress be surprised if it can’t protect itself from most everyone? If “hate bills” are forced on captive Americans, they’ll still find ways to sneakily continue to “plant” Biblical messages everywhere. By doing so they’ll hasten God’s judgment on their oppressors as revealed in Proverbs 19:1. (See related web items including “David Letterman’s Hate, Etc.,” “Separation of Raunch and State,” “Michael the Narc-Angel,” “Obama Avoids Bible Verses,” and “Tribulation Index becomes Rapture Index.”) Since Congress can’t seem to legislate “morality,” it’s making up for it by legislating “immorality”!

    [Please pray for our longtime "underground" web ministry!]

  7. Firm Believer on July 24th, 2009 9:15 pm

    Prayer ~ time of silence ~ should be allowed for those who wish to do so. The ones who want no part of it, don’t have to participate. But, at the same time ALL beliefs/religions should be allowed….not just Judeau-Christian. There are many paths to God, not just one, and that’s what should be kept in mind. Just like with saying the pledge, if one does not believe in doing that they should not be forced to do so. They should be allowed to sit down, as the ones who choose not to take part in the prayer.

    Yes, this is a Bible-thumping area ~ and all should keep in mind it is not a ‘translation’ of original transcripts from back then….it’s an ‘interpretation’ of an interpretation of an interpretation. And even the ones who do say they ‘go by the word’ don’t…. you can tell very easily by the way they act and what they say….also by what they eat!

    EVERYONE should be allowed to believe what they believe without someone preaching to them that you should ‘convert’ to their way because it’s the only way~it’s not!

    The key word here is FREEDOM!

  8. Roger on July 24th, 2009 3:12 pm

    This is a top priority? The courts have ruled many times that it is unconstitutional. It is a waste of time, effort and money to try it again. I was able to pray all I wanted to when I was in school, I’m sure kids still do. How about concentrating on some real priorities like jobs, economic growth, education, health care, environment concerns, etc?

  9. Renita Henderson on July 24th, 2009 2:19 pm

    Well spoken Preston.

    HM you are so right so back off and let us have our freedom of speech in our choice prayer.

    We are not asking you to convert . ” Wake up idiots!!! Remember that this is a free country…freedom of religion…freedom of speech.” and we choose freedom of prayer.

  10. J. P. on July 24th, 2009 11:10 am


    It is impossible for anyone by their words or actions to offend, make people feel
    left out, make people feel inferior, or hurt their feelings without that person first
    allowing these feelings. If you allow these feelings because of an open ex-
    pression of someone elses’ faith, the problem is with your immature manner
    in which you handle the cituation.

    Please don’t infringe on my RIGHTS because you cannot tolerate the diversity
    that has made this country great

  11. John on July 24th, 2009 1:17 am

    HM – Every knee shall bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Our “freedoms” will be the demise of some, but there is hope. I hope you would let go of your anger towards christians and talk to one, please.

  12. Willene on July 23rd, 2009 8:24 pm

    I cannot understand why anyone would not want prayer before a sport event or assembly at a school. When you have 700 kids that want it, what happen to there freedom of speech, and just 3 kids that don’t want prayer, that just does not make sense. Yes I am one of those BIBLE believers and I believe that Jesus Christ died for me and you that we might be saved. I love my God and I want to read and hear his word. I pray for all who don’t know him that they will learn of him before it is to late. I feel the same as the writer that wrote I am An Idiot for Christ. I love my God.Now lets all pray for prayer in the schools.

  13. Sylvia Godwin on July 23rd, 2009 7:16 pm

    Yes, and going to HELL is free too if that is what you choose!

  14. Preston on July 23rd, 2009 6:24 pm

    If prayer had never been taken out of the schools we would not have the problems we have today. It’s great to be a idiot for Christ, Jesus said not to fear the one that can kill the body but the soul.
    I hope we get prayer back in the school we also need the pledge to our great Flag.
    We have turned our backs on Christ as a nation I don’t see how he can continue to protect us as he has.
    an Idiot for Christ

  15. HM on July 23rd, 2009 5:21 pm

    If you want prayer in school…send your child(ren) to a private school that reflects your beliefs. I am so tired of YOUR religion being shoved down my throat and children being brainwashed. Children believe what they are taught by their parents and not always what is right. Raise a child to hate and they will hate. Raise a child in a racist enviornment and they will be racist. Every religion thinks that their religion is the ONLY way. Why cant they all be right? Oh, I forgot…because the BIBLE believers feel it is the only path. Wake up idiots!!! Remember that this is a free country…freedom of religion…freedom of speech.

  16. Sylvia Godwin on July 23rd, 2009 3:00 pm

    Yeah, let them go ahead and keep talking God out of everything this nation stands for this nation will fall. The ones that are not believers and don’t want to pray, so be it they don’t have to. It’s a curious thing to me people have been praying for years and it never harmed anyone, now all of a sudden people can’t pray it may upset someones belief. I think it’s a sad day this world is coming too.

  17. Willene on July 23rd, 2009 11:58 am

    I also am a Christian. And I have been praying that prayer could be back in the schools. It is so sad to think a handful of people could cause so much trouble.

  18. J. P. on July 23rd, 2009 9:34 am

    As a Christian I pray daily and have deep faith in my creator and savior. However,
    I am against required “organized prayer” in public schools as it does tend to
    dictate a certain belief or faith that all may not share. I do believe, however, that
    there should be sufficient time allowed to the students and teachers alike to pray
    silently each day to their God reguardless if they be Christian, Jewish, Muslem,
    or whatever.

    To deny this right not only restricts the rights of believers, but unbelievers as well
    as they have a right to reflect on their belief or lack thereof. Therefore, the court
    rulings does not in fact restrict some peoples right to their beliefs, but restricts
    ALL peoples right to exercise what they believe. Even atheist.

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.