A Republican state senator wants Indiana's public school students to begin each day by reciting the Lord's Prayer.
Dennis Kruse, chair of the state Senate's education committee, has introduced Senate Bill 23, which would allow Indiana's school districts to require recitation of the prayer, "In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen."
The proposal does offer exemptions, including a provision allowing students and parents to opt out of a school's mandatory prayer. Still, experts and the Indiana Senate legal committee believe the bill to be unconstitutional, the Indianapolis Star reports.
A similar law exists in Florida, but no schools there adopted the measure for fear of hefty legal fees associated with likely litigation, Andrew Seidel, a staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told the Star. A lawsuit against a prayer banner in a Rhode Island school last year, for example, cost the school more than $173,000 in attorney's fees.
Seidel told the Star he worried requiring prayer in schools would lead to bullying of students who chose not to participate. Still, the Indiana proposal comes as more atheist clubs spring up in high schools across the country, even in more religious states like North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.
Kruse's history in Indiana education has been filled with controversy. He sponsored a bill last year to allow schools to teach creationism that failed in the state House. He tried again in December by announcing plans to introduce new legislation for what he called "truth in education," an effort that would allow teachers to question scientific principles, such as evolution.
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