Religion

South Carolina Officials Meet to Plan Upcoming School Prayer Rallies

| by Kendal Mitchell
Child Praying.Child Praying.

South Carolina state and community leaders met on April 10 to discuss upcoming rallies in support of school prayer.

State Rep. Richie Yow of Chesterfield met with members of the “Put Prayer Back” Committee. 

Rallies are scheduled for April 19 and April 25, according to supporter Pat Gibson-Hye Moore.

Debate over prayer in South Carolina public schools has led to some legislative change over the past few years.

In February 2013, a group of South Carolina Democrats introduced a bill that would require teachers start each school day with a moment of prayer. Students who do not want to participate would be allowed to leave the classroom during that time. The bill stalled in the House Committee on Judiciary for the next year.

In past Supreme Court decisions, justices said teacher-led prayer is a form of government endorsement of religion and violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Voluntary student prayer is allowed under the Constitution, according to the court.

In January 2014, North Carolina state legislators introduced a new bill calling for a moment of silence for prayer. South Carolina passed a similar bill in 1995, mandating moments of reflection in public schools.

“The compromise would be to have the students to pray to whomever they want to,” state Rep. Wendell Gilliard of Charleston told RawStory. “If they want to do away with teachers conducting the prayer, that would be fine with us. The essential part of the bill, the important part, is putting prayer back in school.”

Supreme Court decisions prohibiting school prayer remain unpopular with many Americans. According to a Pew Research Center poll from 2012, 57 percent of Americans disapprove of the court’s ruling concerning school prayer in public schools, while 39 percent approve of the decisions.

Sources: WMBF News, RawStory, Al Jazeera America / Photo Credit: AP Via Al Jazeera America