Supporters of a Mississippi bill that would legalize school prayer say the measure would ensure religious liberty.
Both the state House and the state Senate have passed versions of the Schoolchildren’s Religious Liberties Act, but they have to agree on a single bill before anything would go to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, the Associated Press reports.
Republican Rep. Mark Formby said that even though religious liberty is guaranteed under the Constitution, schools are afraid of getting involved in disputes over religion and are suppressing students from writing or talking about their faith in any context, the AP reports.
“I’m not so much worried about what’s allowed as what’s disallowed,” Mr. Formby said. “I keep having parents come to me and complain. This would give clarity to the law.”
“It doesn’t have to restore school prayer,” he added. “It will allow children, on a voluntary basis, to pray or not to pray.”
The ACLU’s interim director, Bear Atwood, said the bill will force students to listen to someone else’s religious expression at football games and graduation events. The same measure led judges to strike down a previous Mississippi law allowing student-led prayer, the AP reports.