By Adam Peck
A state senator in Indiana introduced a bill on Thursday that would give public school districts the authority to mandate daily recitations of the Lord’s Prayer in public classrooms.
The bill, introduced on the first day of the new legislative session by Republican Senator Dennis Krause, outlines Kruse’s reasoning for requiring school prayer:
“In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen, 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.”
Kruse’s bill would unquestionably run afoul of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that mandating school prayer is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Even fellow Republicans in the Indiana senate don’t think much of Kruse’s bill, with Republican Senate President Pro Tempore assigning it to a committee often considered a graveyard for legislation according to the Indianapolis Star.
This is not the first time Sen. Dennis Kruse, a Republican who also happens to chair the Senate education committee, has tried to inject Christianity into public schools. Last year, he led a push to introduce creationism into the science curriculum, and when that failed he tried to pass a bill that would have required teachers to provide “some kind of research to support that what they are teaching is true or not true.”
Despite the clear violation of the First Amendment, conservatives have taken a renewed interest in school prayer after the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Several prominent conservatives, including Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, used the deaths of 27 people — including 20 elementary school students — as an opportunity to blame the lack of religion in schools for gun violence.