- (Photo Courtesy Indiana Senate Republican Communications Office)
An Indiana legislator has filed a bill that would allow public schools to require students to say the Lord's Prayer.
State Senator Dennis Kruse submitted the prayer bill before the beginning of the current session. It was put to first reading on Wednesday.
"Allows the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school to provide for the recitation of the Lord's Prayer at the beginning of each school day," reads the official synopsis for Senate Bill 251.
SB 251 has stirred up the ire of church-state groups, with many taking issue with the requirements of the bill for public schools.
Simon Brown of Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote a blog entry denouncing the bill, saying it would "create many problems and solve none."
"There has been a lot of talk lately about prayer being the answer to the problems in our schools. The thing is, students are already free to pray as long as they aren't disruptive or interfering with the rights of their classmates," wrote Brown.
SB 251 states that "the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school may require the recitation of the Lord's Prayer at the beginning of each school day. The prayer may be recited by a teacher, a student, or the class of students."
"If the governing body or equivalent authority requires the recitation of the Lord's Prayer under subsection (a), the governing body or equivalent authority shall determine the version of the Lord's Prayer that will be recited in the school corporation or charter school."
Regarding individual conscience, SB 251 does have an exemption clause if a student "chooses not to participate" or "the student's parent chooses to have the student not participate."
This is not the first time Kruse has garnered controversy on church and state issues. In 2011, the Indiana senator had sponsored a bill, Senate Bill 89, that would have provided more "critical inquiry" in science classes regarding the origins debate.
According to SB 89, "the governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation."
While it garnered much support in the Legislature, the measure was eventually indefinitely tabled by Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma.
According to local media, given that the Republican majority of the Indiana Legislature is expecting to focus more on economic issues this session, SB 251 is not likely to be taken up.