A new bill from a Republican lawmaker in Alabama would require all schools to start each day with a 15-minute prayer session — just as Congress members do.
Under Rep. Steve Hurst's mandate, school days would open with the study of the procedures of Congress, followed by a word-for-word reading of the prayer that members on Capitol Hill used, the Anniston Star reported.
Or, teachers could opt for a prayer that was aligned with that day's lesson plan, he said.
"If Congress can open with a prayer, and the state of Alabama Legislature can, I don't see why schools can't," Mr. Hurst told the Star. "They could read the prayer from the day war was declared in World War II. They could read the prayer the day after Sept. 11."
Critics call the plan unconstitutional.
Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the prayer plan was simply religion disguised as civics.
"Religious practices and beliefs are best taught at home and in our religious institutions," she told the Star. "The Alabama Legislature can try to pass anything it wants, but our public schools must still abide by the United States Constitution."
She also told the newspaper that the difference between congressional prayer and school prayer was that young children "are a captive audience."
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