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Bill could allow school prayer


By Sydney Murray



Public schools could have the option to mandate daily prayer if a bill, proposed by a state senator who last year pushed for the teaching of creationism, passes the legislature this spring.

The bill would give school corporations the authority to require students to recite the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of the school day has been filed in the Indiana Senate.

State Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, who is also the chairman of the Senate education committee, proposed the bill, Senate Bill 23.

“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,” State Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, wrote in the bill. 

Steve Hogan, chair of the Monroe County Republican Party, said he doesn’t see anything problematic with religion being present in public schools and believes people should have the opportunity to express their faith. However, he also said he does not think the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer should be required, as it is specific to one religion.

Although students may choose to not recite the prayer, Ind. Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, said the bill is unconstitutional and violates the separation of church and state.

“I don’t support the concept of prayers from any particular religion in the schools,” he said.

Stoops said he would support this idea if there were rotating prayers from different religions.

He also said he liked the proposed bills from last year that dealt with religion in schools and introduced the idea of comparative religion classes that teach creationism beliefs from a variety of faith  backgrounds.

“If that was a proposal, that could be something I could support,” he said.
Monroe County Community School Corporation school board member Sue Wanzer said she is also opposed.

“I think it’s totally inappropriate,” she said. “I guess my first question would be, whose religion do we bring into the school?”

Wanzer also said she would only support it if the school also recited prayers from all other religions.

“I will ask that we say all other types of prayers,” she said. “That’s how I deal with it.”

Wanzer said students in Monroe County schools study other religions in their classes, and there are religious clubs and organizations that meet outside of school hours.

“We really support people’s individual cultures,” she said.

Wanzer said students who choose to not recite the prayer could feel ostracized.

Students pray in school, but it is something that is done individually and in silence.

“Conservatives believe we have damaged students by removing God from schools,” she said.

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