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House panel OKs prayer for faculty

Posted June 3, 2014

The House Education Committee voted Tuesday for a bill that allows school faculty to participate in student-led prayer, even though similar laws have been struck down elsewhere.

— The House Education Committee voted Tuesday for a bill that allows school faculty to participate in student-led prayer, even though similar laws have been struck down elsewhere. 

Senate Bill 370, Respect for Student Prayer/Religious Activity, passed the Senate unanimously in May 2013 but has not been heard yet in the House. 

Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, said it was prompted by a McDowell County student who was not allowed to read a poem she wrote about her grandfather at a school Veteran's Day program because the poem talked about his faith.

“It was censored by school administrators,” Daniel said. “Can you imagine how this child felt?”

He said there have also been problems with coaches "being advised they may not be present when student-athletes gathered to pray."

The bill allows that “faculty may be present and may adopt a respectful posture” during student-led prayer. Daniel said the provision would guarantee statewide consistency.

Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said he supports the bill overall but warned the committee that the provision saying faculty "may adopt a respectful posture" has already been struck down by federal appellate courts in two different parts of the country. 

The rulings said the "respectful posture" clause "gets into the entanglement issue under the First Amendment when you have teachers participating in a way that crosses the line and endorses the practice,“ Glazier explained. “A respectful display is permissible, but only where it doesn’t cross the line." 

A constitutional law professor, he offered an amendment to strike the phrase from the bill. 

"We ought not be passing provisions that we know have case law out there declaring them unconstitutional,” he said. "We’re setting ourselves up, under existing case law, to be sued. I think we have an oath to the taxpayers that we’re on point." 

Daniel, an attorney, spoke against the amendment. "It’s a sad day in America when we can’t tell a coach they can bow their head when a student is leading a prayer," he said.

“It breaks my heart that we’re at the point in American history where we need a bill,” said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven. “Anything about separation of church and state, all that stuff, it’s not even in the Constitution. We need to remember what principles this country was founded on.”

Rep, Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, also spoke against Glazier's amendment.

“We live in a society where there is an all-out assault on God in the public square," Jones said. "People will file lawsuits regardless what we do."

Glazier's amendment was voted down 28-11.

The bill passed the committee easily and could be on the House floor later this week.

43 Comments

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  • KT slapped your mom Jun 3, 2014

    Aren't there more important issues to be addressing?

  • Atheistinafoxhole Jun 3, 2014

    "Daniel, an attorney, spoke against the amendment."

    Seems like all these laws that they know will be challenged are simply a back door handout of taxpayer money to their lawyer friends.

  • Tony Snark Jun 3, 2014

    Why are they wasting time on this? Students are in school to learn. If they want to say a prayer, they can already do that. More ridiculous conservative nonsense.

  • hppyhourhero Jun 3, 2014

    Michael Speciale, R-New Bern: "We need to remember what principles this country was founded on.”
    Shall we ask a Native American to respond to that?

  • Kenny Dunn Jun 3, 2014

    I nice waste of time and it will create yet more wasting of our tax dollars. What a great move.

  • Jun 3, 2014

    They just won't stop until they've given us sharia law. And they'll swear they never saw it coming.

  • Come On_Seriously Jun 3, 2014

    So, rather than focusing on something of value like why their new tax scheme isn't working as they had hoped, they'd rather waster their time on this. I'm sure more 'official' state emblems will be next.

    There is a place to focus on your faith. It's called church, not school. Church is where you profess your faith and learn more of the teachings of your particular religion. School is where you learn about the tangible facts that affect everyone equally without regard to belief.

    There is no time for science, math, or english at church, and no place for prayer at school- Particularly when so many churches act as though science is merely a faith of its own.

    I will respect your faith all day, every day, every faith -so long as it is not in the public place using my tax dollars. Fair's fair. I don't bust into the middle of your Sunday morning service with an article from 'Science' and expect everyone to quietly wait until I'm through- don't expect me to sit through your prayers.

  • goldenosprey Jun 3, 2014

    Now, I as a taxpayer must kick in more $ to defend this likely unconstitutional law while my kids' teachers are paid peanuts. At least they will be able to pray for a decent salary.

    Why do people feel compelled to religicize on taxpayer time?

    We ask for jobs, decent education, coal ash to be kept out of our rivers, and instead we get religious indoctrination enablement acts. Thanks for nothing NCGA!

  • Michael Hart Jun 3, 2014

    “We live in a society where there is an all-out assault on God in the public square," Jones said. "People will file lawsuits regardless what we do."
    wow Bert...... seems there is one in your own mind.....not in the "Town Square"! and when you try to bypass the US Constitution.... then Yes, there will be lawsuits...stop wasting the Taxpayer money...

  • Plenty Coups Jun 3, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Well said.

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