“I have no religion in the formal sense of the word . . . I have no race except that which is forced upon me. I have no country except that to which I'm obliged to belong. I have no traditions. I'm free. I have only the future.” — Richard Wright, Pagan Spain (1957)
Dear Alabama FFRF Member:
A bill mandating that public schools begin each morning with prayer was approved by voice vote in the House Education Policy Committee in late February.
House Bill 318, sponsored by Rep. Steve Hurst, would require teachers and public school students to spend up to 15 minutes “studying the formal procedures of the United States Congress including the verbatim reading of a congressional opening prayer.”
The bill is clearly a bald attempt to introduce prayer and religion into the classroom under the guise of studying Congress.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, “This controversial bill emerged from the committee despite the fact that a majority of legislators present stated that they opposed the measure.”
Three representatives voted against the bill: Reps. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, Elaine Beech, D-Chatom, and Phil Williams, R-Huntsville. Another three did not vote at all: Reps. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, Mac Buttram, R-Cullman, and Kerry Rich, R-Albertville.
The only two to vote in favor of the bill were Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs, and Rep. Lesley Vance, R-Phenix City. Nevertheless, McClurkin, Chair of the Committee, claimed she heard more votes in favor of the bill.
Contact your state representative today to say why you think this bill is unconstitutional and divisive in the public school system. (It’s unclear when the bill will come to the floor for a vote, so please also watch the news for developments and chime in.)
You can also send a letter to the editor to the Montgomery Advertiser here or to your local newspaper. You can also influence public opinion through social media networks and by commenting online at news websites.
(Use your own words or feel free to copy the language below)
I strongly oppose HB 318. To avoid the constitutional concerns and the divisiveness school-led prayers create, the solution is simple: don’t permit them.
This bill violates more than half a century of firm Supreme Court precedent against prayer, ritual, bible-reading and religious devotion in our public schools.
Prayer sends an inappropriate proselytizing message to all students, and excludes the nonreligious — the second-largest segment today in America by religious identification.
Calling upon faculty and students to pray is coercive, embarrassing and beyond the scope of a secular public school district. Nonbelieving students and religious minorities should not be made to feel like political outsiders by their own school district. Nor should any school district send a message to students that they ought to believe in a deity or show obeisance to one.
Committee Passes School Prayer Bill on Voice Vote
The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama)
Alabama Passes Law that Requires School Prayer Every Morning