For all the often understandable criticism levied against politicians, a legislator’s principled stance in favor of traditional values can sometimes restore conservatives’ faith in the lawmaking process. While its ultimate passage remains to be seen, one Alabama state representative is pushing a bill that might do just that.
Republican Steve Hurst is putting the longstanding ban on school prayer in the crosshairs, using some sound logic to back up his position. His proposal would allow schools to mirror the practice of both the state and federal legislature by beginning each day with an invocation.
“If Congress can open with a prayer, and the state of Alabama Legislature can,” he explained, “I don’t see why schools can’t.”
Furthermore, he noted that the practice naturally lends itself to the unique educational opportunities.
“They could read the prayer from the day war was declared in World War II,” he suggested. “They could read the prayer the day after Sept. 11.”
Instructors would have a list of prayers, each used to open a congressional session, from which they may choose. Following the prayer, Hurst’s bill proposes a short lesson on the legislative branch of government.
Obviously, his novel idea is not without significant detraction by secular groups and legal organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU’s Alabama chapter, through a statement by director Susan Watson, spoke out strongly against the proposed bill. She contends that any reference to religion is “best taught at home and in our religious institutions.”
That belief is shared by many, even some who might personally favor prayer but are concerned the allowance would open the door for proselytization. The reality is, however, that public schools routinely expose students to a one-sided promotion of religions like Islam while completely silencing any potential reference to Christianity.
While Hurst obviously faces an uphill battle in passing this bill, his proposal is a reminder to many Americans that Christian faith has not been completely forgotten by our elected leaders.
–B. Christopher Agee
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