Governor Bryant Hurting Kids With His “Prayer Policies”

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant does not hide the fact that he’d like to see all children praying in public schools. Pursuing that vision, he has signed into law a bill requiring all public schools in the state to develop policies in regard to prayer.

The new law, which goes into effect in July, will allow students to pray over school intercoms, at assemblies and at sporting events. At the same time, school districts must also include a disclaimer that says the students’ prayers do not reflect an endorsement or sponsorship by the district.

I assume the law refers to the Christian religion. What about the 16% of people in the US who are not affiliated with any religion? And the 4% who follow religions other than Christianity?

From The New York Times:

While not allowing school-sanctioned prayer, the law permits students to offer public prayers with a disclaimer by the school administration. “You might put on the program that this is not a state-sanctioned prayer if a prayer does break out at a football game or graduation,” Mr. Bryant said.

Although the state is not in the business of establishing religion, he said, “we are about making sure that we protect the religious freedoms of all students and adults whenever we can.”

For groups trying to keep prayer and public education separated, the law was the latest legislative action aimed at moving the two closer together without violating the Constitution.

Whatever Happened To Separation Of Church And State?

In Missouri, with the passage of Amendment 2 last year, students in public and private schools gained the right to refrain from participating in assignments or educational presentations that violate their religious beliefs. (If they believe in creationism, they don’t have to do any work on evolution.)

Also last year, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a new voucher program, which gives thousands of poor and middle-class students the funds to pay for the full cost of tuition at 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools, and allows taxpayer funds to be used for teaching creationism.

Creationism has been appearing on the curriculum in other states too: recently Oklahoma passed a law stating that students in science classes would be able to make totally unscientific and unfounded faith-based claims, and not be penalized for it.

Such bills are more common now because conservatives control both the governorships and legislatures in 24 states.

All Students Must Say The Lord’s Prayer

In Indiana, Senator Dennis Kruse, chairman of the Senate education committee, who last year unsuccessfully sought the teaching of creationism in schools, has filed a bill that would allow school districts to require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, though individual students could opt out if they or their parents preferred.

Lawmakers in South Carolina this year introduced legislation that would allow for prayer during a mandatory minute of silence at the start of the school day; exceptions can be made for students who decline to hear the prayer.

The Supreme Court has never held that students cannot pray in school. But the Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot have anything to do with prayer in schools, whether it’s telling students when, how or what to pray. Religion cannot be mandated by the government.

Faith and religion are very personal choices. Children tend to be brought up in the faith of their family and parents, if these parents do, in fact, follow a particular religion: I was brought up in the Church of England, where my father was a vicar; had I been born in Japan, I might have followed the Shinto religion; in Indonesia, it probably would have been the Muslim religion.

At some point, children evolve their own thoughts on religion and may move away from family beliefs. In no instance should any religion be imposed on a child at school. Rather, children should study comparative religions, and come to their own decisions about which, if any, religion they find to be true.

Governor Bryant is hurting children by imposing his law on prayer in public schools. Shame on you, Mr. Bryant.


Related Care2 Coverage

Religion Ruins Education Again. This Time In Missouri

Louisiana Uses Public Funds To Teach Creationism

Student Harrassed After Successfully Having School Prayer Mural Removed


Photo Credit: thinkstock


GGma Sheila D.
S Ann D4 years ago

These 24 states have set a precedent that is against the Constitution - keeping the State and the Church separate. If it isn't stopped now we will not be a Democracy, but a Theocracy.

To Brad S and all others feeling the same way -

We are a nation under ONE Constitution...Not under ONE God, but under many beliefs - and many Gods. Pray where you choose - do NOT presume to tell me where I have to pray!

Jessie Rodriguez
Jessie Rodriguez4 years ago

Church and religion, and praying should be done not in the school , but at your choice of worship. No one should be required to say prayers of any kind in a school.It is not the job of the schools to teach this or have anything to do with praying. Schools are for teaching not controlling and forcing everyone to do what might be considered "wrong" mto them.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

Nothing wrong with children praying. When I was in school, we had to say the Lord's Prayer. No one was harmed! If someone chose not to recite it, then he just sat quietly and said nothing.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago

Don`t force kids into this. We are all very special and we can only destroy our kids by forcing them to do things that is not right to them. They are as free as they can get when small, forcing them will destroy their creativity, creativity that is needed to built a better world. By doing to our kids what our parents/school/governments did to us will ONLY make them to be what we are today = NO CHANGE!

Evelyn Mc M.
Evelyn M4 years ago

There was no prayer in school when I grew up, did not hurt me, I feel like I turned out to be a well-rounded individual.

Allana Dutchak
Allana D4 years ago

When I was young, my school had what we called a prayer room, and any student who had parental consent could join in prayer after announcements. I think its a wonderful idea! It was zero pressure, just a form sent home for permission, like a field trip without asking for money!

If the schools can give then option to Muslims then why not Christians?

Before anyone tries to say that I'm some kind of whack christian, I'm not, wiccan actually! I just want to find a way to allow children to feel comfortable in whatever faith they belong in a place they have no choice being in!

Carole L.
Carole L4 years ago

Brad S
“Nothing wrong with prayer. After all we are a nation under god.”

I know there are those who 'want' to believe that, even though it is not so. Our forefathers left England for precisely the reasons we are witnessing today. How ironic that today’s christains try to use the constitution as 'proof' of their 'right' to force their beliefs on the rest of US when exactly the opposite is true.

Lin M
“Prayer is always some place even if you can't tell. I was not hurt any saying the pledge or Lord's Prayer when I went to school. It is a choice people should always have. For those not wanting to pray, stand or sit quietly in respect of those who do.”

and why should others not wanting to pray be forced to; stand or sit quietly in respect of those who want to lord their beliefs over them? Just why should your beliefs be placed above all others. You just don't get it. Not only that, I don't want my taxes for 'Publicly' funded institutions used so that others can force their prayer while those not wanting to pray, must stand or sit quietly in respect of those who do? You want to pray, go to church, or into that closet mentioned in the bible.

Lin M
Lin M4 years ago

Prayer is always some place even if you can't tell. I was not hurt any saying the pledge or Lord's Prayer when I went to school. It is a choice people should always have. For those not wanting to pray, stand or sit quietly in respect of those who do.

Bente Kristensen
Linda K4 years ago

Time to stop this right-wing Christian fundamentalist march forward, and reclaim freedom for all.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

I want my children to be educated, not forced to pray. This is sickening!