Student-led prayer bill signed into law

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. – Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill into law allowing student-led prayer.

The three-page law allows students to pray either silently, out loud, alone or with others to the same extent as a student is allowed to reflect, meditate or speak on nonreligious matters.

Under the new law students will be able to organize prayer groups and/or religious clubs. Students can also express their beliefs in their homework, artwork or other written assignments.

The law also stipulates that students’ actions can’t disrupt the learning process, harass other students to participate or infringe on the rights of others.

Alisha Rogers has 7-year-old and her feelings about the new law come from firsthand experience.

“He (her son) got in trouble last week because he was talking about God to another student and the teacher didn’t like it, and he came home very upset. I had to comfort him and let him know it was OK and that he could talk about him wherever he would love,” Rogers said.

The law takes effect immediately. One of the sponsors of the bill is Senator Stan Bingham from Davidson County.

26 comments

  • jliles1205

    Truly pathetic- to have to have a law that protects rights guaranteed under both the North Carolina Constitution and the United States Constitution. But then we’ve had to do that for other Constitutionally protected rights.

    • Ken

      Yeah that would be because certain people on the religious front don’t understand the difference between religious freedom and separation of church and state, i.e. prayer in a taxpayer funded school. Can’t wait to see if these same people will allow wiccans and other “pagan” religions to get together on school time. Let’s see how they act when the shoe is on the other foot.

      • jliles1205

        As with others who do not understand the 1st Amendment, you attribute words that are not there.
        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”
        Separation of church and state is a concept that attempted to explain exactly why free speech must not be prohibited. It is not a legal term..Nothing in allowing free speech “establishes” a religion. To think otherwise shows a superficial understanding of our natural rights. This law attempts to bring the debate back into balance.
        Interestingly, there is this: “A federal appeals court told the American Atheists on Thursday that they must provide more evidence if they want to purport that the “Ground Zero cross” is offensive.” A flicker of common sense.

  • Tommy

    Ken, you have hit the nail on the head – what folks don’t connect is the fact that in breaking down the barrier between church and state means that the stage is set for other religious factions and belief systems to also gain entry. This is a useless law that codifies something that any child could have already done, but now it’s law. I am so glad the GOP has its priorities straight.

    • jliles1205

      Actually, it is a legal protection against petty bureaucrats (mostly union teachers) who think that shutting students up is within their purview.

      • friday jones

        You mean that teachers actually have the temerity to tell their students to shut up and listen to them instead of cross-pollinating their ignorant childish beliefs to one other? Remember, people, kids are the people that are still gullible enough to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. And now they can teach those beliefs to each other and if the teacher tells them to keep that nonsense to themselves, they can fire the teacher.

        This is just another way that the GOP shows their utter contempt for the profession of teaching children.

  • Linda neese

    They say parents are not teaching children at home now maybe they wont be scared to live as they believe while they are learning. I am glad he passed the law. GOD IS NOT DEAD.

  • Chucky

    The reason there was a separation of church and state created was because governments from our ancestors’ homelands were run by one church or another and they attempted to force their beliefs on the citizens. Our forefathers wanted to prevent that from happening here. It had nothing to do with who prays in schools. In fact, a teacher or school system telling a student that they cannot pray (no matter what religion) or that they cannot talk about their religion actually stomps on that student’s right to free speech. I believe the same about teachers accept that they must be careful not to teach the students their religion. I don’t believe that a teacher should have to avoid answering questions asked by students though about their own religion, no matter what it is. The reality is that once a student grows up and is on their own, they must live in a world where many ideas and beliefs exist and not teaching them that fails them and creates the potential for problems in their adult lives.

  • Steve

    I really love how this state has made a habit of passing laws that were already laws. Amendment 1 that was voted on in 2012 spent large amounts of tax money to pass a law, that made something illegal that was already not allowed by law. Now, our esteemed legislature and governor don’t have the ability to research school law in order to learn that this law, WAS ALREADY THE LAW OF THE LAND! Students have always been allowed to pray and/or organize prayer groups. The Establishment Clause and its implications to our public schools has been interpreted numerous times by the US Supreme Court. Abington School District v. Schempp (1963) banned government-sponsored compulsory prayer from public schools; Engel v. Vitale (1962) ruled it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public school; Lee v. Weisman (1992): clergy-led prayer within the events of a public high school graduation violates the Establishment Clause; Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe (2000) public prayers at graduation ceremonies and those conducted via public address system prior to high school games violates the Establishment Clause. All of these cases clearly show that adults cannot lead prayer in school, but children may do whatever they want if it is their choice. The Establishment Clause only applies to those who are official representatives of the government (i.e. teachers, principals, coaches).

    • j

      The problem is that the “law” was routinely being violated by teachers and administrators improperly censoring students. Students, no matter what religion, do not shed their rights when entering a school. Its not about establishing a state religion, but protecting individual rights.

      • Steve

        In all the years that I have been in education, I have not witnessed a single incident of a student’s 1st Amendment rights being violated by any teacher or administrator. Our school’s FCA club regularly hosts Prayer at the Flag Pole meetings prior to school beginning. Keep in mind, students do have to shed a few of their rights when entering school. Cases in point, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988), New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985), and Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser (1987). Students have every right to practice and maintain their religion at school, as long as they are not disrupting the educational environment or attempting to indoctrinate other students. With that said, teachers and other educators also have the right to not have their 1st Amendment rights infringed upon by students in their classrooms.

      • Tommy

        No, it’s about establishing a state religion. In my opinion there’s a simple test – when (and it will be when) muslim kids put down a prayer cloth using this law as justification how are you going to feel about it? If your first response is “fine!” then I’d agree it’s not about establishing religion. If your first response is “not in my school!” then I would suggest it’s about establishing your own version of religion.

    • JT

      Dead on, Steve–like Amendment 1, this is nothing more than political gerrymandering designed to arouse the “Religious Right” (base of the Republican party) to prepare for elections and a (hopefully vain) attempt for McCrory to salvage what’s left of this term and prepare to run for a second term as Governor. My fear is that it sets up the “persecution defense” for some student and helicopter parents. For example, if a student writes a crappy paper and it also happens to have religious overtones to it and the teacher fails it on technical merits (because it is a bad paper), this leaves the “That mean old teacher failed me because I love Jeebus” defense. I just can’t wait until all of us evolve past the need for mythology and fairy tales.

  • Jim Robertson

    If homosexuals are declaring who they are and living there lives according to their practices at schools, Christians should be able to do the same.

  • Ruth Thompson

    Fantastic News that children will be able to pray to the Lord when they have a deep problem that no one else can solve. Now, when the need is the greatest, they can find the strongest help, the deepest peace and safety that comes with communicating and praying to our Dear Lord Jesus.
    Free Speech is just that, if prayer is not allowed, then we do not have “free speech”. we can only say what “the officials tell us to say” and that is NOT free speech. I thing whoever started taking prayer out of schools should be SUED!
    I now believe that N.C. will be under Gods protection, because of this prayer, we will not see school shootings in that state! We never saw all this school violence and shootings until they took prayer out. I hope other states get on board and wise up.

    • jliles1205

      I agree with your sentiments, however NC schools are still “gun free” zones- better known as killing fields. Until those bent on killing innocents fear immediate armed response, no child is safe in any public school.

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