Bill clarifying prayer in schools clears state House

Posted June 4, 2014

Before celebrating, the team says a prayer together after the game.

— The state House passed a measure Wednesday allowing public school teachers to participate in student-led prayers, despite the potential for legal challenges. 

"This bill is not a fringe or a radical religious bill," said Rep. Josh Dobson, R-McDowell.

The House voted 106-9 to return the measure to the Senate, which must vote to concur with a handful of House changes in order to send the bill to Gov. Pat McCrory. 

"Ninety-nine percent of this bill is faithful to the constitution," said Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, who voted for the measure. 

The 1 percent Glazier took issue with is a line allowing teachers, coaches and other public school employees to "adopt a respectful posture" when students are praying. That includes a teacher bowing his or her head in prayer with students while gathered around a flag pole or a coach taking a knee with a team. 

The U.S. Constitution "protects the person who stands outside the circle, to not to be ostracized by the state," Glazier said. Teachers joining students in prayer could leave students of other religions, or students who are not religious, feeling pressured or left out of the group, he said. 

Courts have struck down the "respectful posture" reference in other states, said Glazier, who predicts it will be challenged in court. 

Others debating the bill said it merely clarifies what students can and cannot do on school property. 

"This is something that we constantly, constantly have to fight as something you're allowed to do as a student-led organization," said Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, who has participated in student-led prayers as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

"It doesn't say Christian prayer," said Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, insisting the measure would also protect Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist prayers. "To me, this bill is about defending everybody's freedom."


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  • hangum333 Jun 5, 2014

    "The trouble with a lot of Christians is that they don't consider a prayer to be any good unless it can be overheard by everybody in the building. "

    And that is the problem. All of these "prayer in school" issues are about "I want your kid to be converted to my religion". Kids can pray, teachers can stick voodoo pins into student dolls, Buddhist principals can try and think compassionately towards everyone. But you can't use any government situation to try and convert somebody to your religion and especially not an authority figure like a teacher.

  • sinenomine Jun 5, 2014

    Please stop, HANGUM333! I am laughing so hard I can barely control myself. I thought I had seen every kind of inanity on WRAL's message boards but to conflate Mormonism with atheism or paganism is just too much. The writers on Saturday Night Live would love to hire you.

  • hangum333 Jun 5, 2014

    I don't want any atheist teacher in any way shape or form influencing my child. What is to stop a group of atheist or pagan or Mormon or Islamic kids pushing their religion on my kid via peer pressure with the support of the only authority figure in the room -- the teacher.

  • sinenomine Jun 5, 2014

    678devilish's idea that all the ills of society came about because prayer "was taken out of our schools" is preposterous. I suppose it would be even worse, in his/her opinion, if "In God We Trust" were taken off our coins, "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance (it wasn't there anyway before 1954), or "God Bless America" not sung at patriotic events.

    Appeals to God like these are unlikely to sway the Deity in any event. What God wants to hear I expect are heartfelt pleas and not formulaic phrases not fundamentally different from cheering "Go Team!" at a school game.

    Prayer was never "taken out of our schools" to begin with. You can pray as much as you want in school or anywhere else. What WAS taken out of schools, and rightly so, were prayers written by state boards which students were compelled or intimidated by peer pressure into saying.

  • tracmister Jun 5, 2014

    Actually, as long as the teacher, coach, or administrator isn't leading the prayer; they have never been prevented from praying themselves.

  • Grand Union Jun 5, 2014

    View quoted thread

    So your theory is that God is encouraging people to commit mass murder because we don't allow prayer in public schools? Not sure I'd want to pray to such a god........
    Actually the mistake you're making is confusing correlation with causation. Just because one thing happens around the same time as another it does not mean that one is causing the other. I personally blame the moon landings :)

  • Mike Watson Jun 5, 2014
    user avatar

    @678devilish .. what a ridiculous statement. Prayer isn't needed at school at all. If someone wants to pray at school and they are not bothering others or disrupting class to do it, that is fine. But to have an organized prayer is ridiculous.

  • iopsyc Jun 5, 2014

    In the bill it states school personnel cannot "lead, direct, or encourage any religious or antireligious activity".

    First off, it's unclear what constitutes "antireligious activity", so that may be adding to my confusion. However, including "antireligious" activity seems odd.

    I get that as an agent of a school, one cannot encourage religious activity because it can be construed as breaking the separation of church and state. But antireligious activity sounds like it would actually mean the school employee is trying to ensure that seperation.

  • dahill001 Jun 5, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I don't wonder what non-existant beings think about me.

  • 678devilish Jun 5, 2014


    Very good comment.