Bill would require reading of Congressional prayers in Alabama schools

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Teachers in Alabama classrooms would be required to read a Congressional prayer every day under a bill filed in the state Legislature.

"If Congress can open with a prayer, and the state of Alabama Legislature can, I don't see why schools can't," said Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, the bill's sponsor. 

Hurst's bill would require schools to set aside the first portion of the first class period every day "for study of the formal procedures followed by U.S. Congress," which must include "a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers" given at the opening of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. 

Hurst said the bill would help students learn more about history and civics.

Written By: Tim Lockette
continue to source article at annistonstar.com

19 COMMENTS

  1. There’s a law that compels legislative bodies to pray before meetings? Or do most (probably not all) of the elected members make a personal choice to waste some time (tax dollars) in chambers before each meeting, and succeed despite a lack of legal compulsion? Maybe legislators should use their time more effectively (e.g. pray before they leave their homes, if they must pray), instead of trying to popularize their personal methods of wasting tax dollars.

    • In reply to #2 by giggity:

      These legislators certainly are preying (on us)!

      giggity

      Their predation is also on the United States Constitutional separation of church and state and an attempt to create a xtian theocracy.

      • In reply to #5 by Agrajag:

        In reply to #4 by Miserablegit:

        As always catch them young and indoctrinate them forever.

        Clearly this is the case. It is also in violation of Matthew 6:5-6

        Steve.

        Which probably demonstrates yet again, how little xtians know about their own holy book, or how cynically they ignore what it says when it does not suit their ultimately secular agenda of power and greed. Take your pick. Come to think of it, probably both are true.

    • In reply to #4 by Miserablegit:

      As always catch them young and indoctrinate them forever.
      Didn’t work in my case. In fact they turned me into the atheist I am now and have been for the last 45 years or so. However, what ever happened to separating church and state?

    • Definitely Bacchus. I have a bottle of Pinot Noir waiting for such an occasion.

      In reply to #7 by joseywales:

      Maybe they could rotate the deities being prayed to, a different one every day.

      Monday belongs to Jesus, Tuesday to Allah, Wednesday to Baphomet, Thurday to Thor, Friday to Bacchus.

  2. This reminds me of a comment made by Bill Maher last week. There is no actual academic requirement to be a Congressmen in the US. In any profession, one needs qualifications and/or special skills: whether you’re a teacher, physician, scientist, philosopher, historian, engineer, lawyer…. But a politician?… Nope. These people make policy that affect the entire population of their country and the future of their nation but we demand no special knowledge, training or diploma of any kind.

    Is it just me? This strikes me as absolutely friggin’ mad. No wonder US politics is polluted by these chronically incompetent, severely ignorant nut-cases.

    • In reply to #8 by NearlyNakedApe:

      This reminds me of a comment made by Bill Maher last week. There is no actual academic requirement to be a Congressmen in the US.

      U.S. laws and policies can be a double-edged sword, the good and bad of a democracy. Laws permitting protesting, for example, have to be applied to folks such as Phelps and his clan, too.

      but a politician?

      Clay Aiken (american idol singer) plans to run for a congressional seat in his native North Carolina district. He states that he has no inclination to be a “politician”; rather, a concerned citizen, a la` ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’.

  3. “If Congress can open with a prayer, and the state of Alabama Legislature can, I don’t see why schools can’t,” said Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, the bill’s sponsor.

    Rep. Hurst is right on this point. (Although he phrases it backwards.) This double standard on the issue of government sponsored prayer makes very little sense. The legal contortions needed to preserve the “institution” of U.S. Congressional invocations are barking mad.

    There’s a tiny, perversly-optimistic part of me that wants sneaky, back-door, lying-for-Jesus bills like this to pass. Hurst wants to use the fact that Congress prays to force prayer back into public schools. He doesn’t seem to realize the delicate (irrational) balance that courts have struck on these public prayer issues. He disrupts it at his own peril.

    If this law were to pass, and (inevitably?) be challenged in court, it would probably be struck down as an impermissible Church/State separation breach. Such a case – explicitly linking illegal school prayer to Congressional prayer – could then be followed by another case, challenging Congressional prayers based on that precedent. Plaintiffs (if someone with standing could be found willing to sue) could argue that Congressional prayers can hardly be Constitutional if school children aren’t allowed to read them – basically turning Hurst’s own arguments against him. Laws like this might be the sort of thing that could finally get prayers out of US legislatures.

    Of course, that’s a pretty unlikely outcome. More probably, the courts would find more twisted rationales to let Congress pray while protecting innocent kids from that strange fact.

    Still, I love to imagine foolish crusades like this blowing up in theocrats’ faces.

    • In reply to #9 by BanJoIvie:

      Hi BanJolvie,

      There’s a tiny, perversely optimistic, part of me that wants sneaky, back-door, lying-for-Jesus bills like this to pass. Hurst … doesn’t seem to realize the delicate (irrational) balance that courts have struck on these public prayer issues. He disrupts it at his own peril.

      How are you sure about that?

      Forcing the issue is a great political tactic for blowing up standing political compromises.

      There’s a concept involved that everyone on these pages needs to understand.

      In politics, nothing is ever decided forever.

      All political dialog is about change. Those things which seem to be beyond change – to some politicians – are simply higher political peaks to climb.

      The current compromise on prayer in public places is seen by some as merely a base camp to constitutional reform.

      Be very careful what you wish for.

      If this law were to pass, and … be challenged in court, it would probably be struck down as an impermissible Church/State separation breach.

      This would be Hurst’s Stage 2.

      Such a case – explicitly linking illegal school prayer to Congressional prayer – could then be followed by another case, challenging Congressional prayers based on that precedent.

      Hurst’s Stage 3.

      Plaintiffs … could argue that Congressional prayers can hardly be Constitutional if school children aren’t allowed to read them – basically turning Hurst’s own arguments against him.

      No, not against Hurst, against the Constitution. Stage 4.

      Laws like this might be the sort of thing that could finally get political capital behind the idea of repealing the First Amendment.

      Hurst’s Endgame.

      Personally, I don’t see the US courts being so easily duped, and Hurst has his work cut out just to get to Stage 1. But these are the risks Americans run when they don’t get involved in politics.

      Peace.

      • In reply to #11 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

        [ME] Hurst … disrupts [the current balance] at his own peril.

        [YOU] How are you sure about that?

        Not at all sure. Any time you put things in the hands of the courts they can be unpredicatable. Of course some outcomes are less likely than others. Like this for example:

        Laws like this might be the sort of thing that could finally get political capital behind the idea of repealing the First Amendment.

        Hurst’s Endgame.

        The scenario you outline is vanishingly unlikely, under any reasonably foreseeable circumstances. Not technically impossible, but in practical terms it might as well be. US courts can make sweeping change in a very short amount of time to all the laws of the land…except to the Constitution. Making even minor changes to that, requires a degree of political will and agreement that is simply never seen in the modern polarized US political sphere. Actual amendments to the Constitution are practically impossible in the current climate, and I think you vastly underestimate the amount of change in sentiment it would require to make even a very minor one happen. Change to or repeal of the original Bill of Rights – which is practically sacred text to conservatives – is just not realistic.

        A socially conservative Republican like Hurst would be one of the very last people in America to even contemplate such blasphemy. Prayer-in-school advocates would never turn their fire on the Constitution itself, but at the Judiciary – already viewed by many as enemies to the pure Constitution.

        All that being said, there are many ways this could go wrong in the unpredictable courts. It could lead to some sort of reintroduction of prayer for public school kids. That is Hurst’s obvious goal, and while unlikely, it’s nowhere near as impossible as striking the 1st Amendment. That uncertainty is always the danger in seeking social progress through the courts.

        • In reply to #12 by BanJoIvie:

          Hi BanJolvie,

          Any time you put things in the hands of the courts they can be unpredicatable.

          True, true.

          The scenario you outline is vanishingly unlikely …

          We’ll I thought I made it clear that this is also my view – he’s over-reaching.

          Not technically impossible, but in practical terms it might as well be.

          Technically possible = possible.

          US courts can make sweeping change in a very short amount of time to all the laws of the land…except to the Constitution.

          I don’t remember saying that I projected the change would come from the courts. This is politics we’re talking about, not a legal case.

          Making even minor changes to [the US Constitution] requires a degree of political will and agreement that is simply never seen in the modern polarized US political sphere.

          You may be right. I don’t know. All I know is that it has been changed.

          Actual amendments to the Constitution are practically impossible in the current climate, and I think you vastly underestimate the amount of change in sentiment it would require to make even a very minor one happen.

          Possibly. I may have been spending too much time in Conservative echo chambers, listening in.

          Prayer-in-school advocates would never turn their fire on the Constitution itself, but at the Judiciary – already viewed by many as enemies to the pure Constitution.

          Yes, I see your point. Judicial activism and all that.

          All that being said, there are many ways this could go wrong in the unpredictable courts.

          It’s true that lower US courts are known to be very unpredictable. But the Supreme Court has been much better at holding to original lines, as we might expect.

          But again, I did try to say that the courts are where I would expect such a political initiative to die. Anyone considering a gameplan such as the one I outlined would probably be hoping for a ruling that would allow them to squeal Judicial Activism – but it seems to me they underestimate the courts’ ability to reshape compromise, to fudge the issue time and again.

          It could lead to some sort of reintroduction of prayer for public school kids. That is Hurst’s obvious goal, and while unlikely, it’s nowhere near as impossible as striking the 1st Amendment.

          My mistake, I did say “repeal”, but there are plenty of options open that fall short of that extreme. The worst ones that I can think of – and which many Conservatives would love – would be something along the lines of the right to free speech through a recognised channel (the original reason for copyright, and the invention of Publishers).

          But I will say this again, because I was obviously not clear the first time, in order to succeed they would need to create the political capital – or, as you put it, the political will. That said, I have often been surprised by what is possible with propaganda, and appeals to the emotions.

          The most important part of propaganda is that no-one ever believes it the first time, or the second time, or the third, or the …. But eventually people latch on to what they think they know. Hurst won’t get anywhere, but that doesn’t mean the project – whatever it is – won’t move forward.

          Peace.

  4. I’m not American, so this subject doesn’t affect me as much as it might others. However, I have to ask: are the young girls shown in this post’s photo at some sort of religious assembly, or just a concert by some boy band?

    The photo doesn’t seem to bear much relevance to the content of the Anniston Star article, or this post.

  5. The child on the left is clearly doing her “Oh, Lawdy Jesus” routine. I wonder where she learned to emulate this ridiculous affect?

    BTW, it would be ridiculous if they were at a boy band concert as well. This is fanaticism. It is absolutely clear to me that the fundamentalism displayed in both the words of Rep. Steve Hurst and the picture of the lawdy jesus child reflects a definite parallel to exactly the folks these people purport to be protecting us against — the Taliban….. etc….

    A 9 year old with a machine gun in Somalia makes most cringe. How do you think it got to that point???

    If this type of shit gets widespread, we are watching the initial steps towards Holy War. Why are they so so myopic? Are there ZERO MIRRORS in Alabama?

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