South Carolina Lawmakers Re-Introduce Bill That Would Protect Rights of Teachers to Join in Student-Led Prayers

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Lawmakers in South Carolina have re-introduced a bill that would protect the rights of teachers to participate in student-led prayers in public schools. A second bill is also stated to be in the works that would allow teachers to lead prayers as well.

A Parent University Forum was held at Savannah Grove Baptist Church on Monday to discuss the proposals with the public. Several supportive lawmakers attended the meeting, and heard from both sides of the issue.

“It’s sad that we have to introduce a bill that gives us a God-given right to start with,” Rep. Richie Yow, R-Chesterfield, stated, according to the Florence Morning News.

“Right now, the way that it’s set up in the state is the teachers cannot pray with the students, even when they ask, and it’s our God-given right to be able to do that,” he said. “We’re taking away freedom of speech, and these bills are just giving some of that freedom back that these families have earned.”

Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Spartanburg, lamented, “When you take prayer out of schools, you replace it with metal detectors.”

As previously reported, the lawmakers likewise presented H.B. 3345 in 2016 and 2017, but it did not move out of the Education and Public Works Committee.

“A teacher employed by a public school district may express a religious viewpoint, and also may conduct or participate in any student-led prayer or student-organized prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious gatherings organized by students of a public school,” the bill reads.

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It states that teachers should have the right to engage in the free exercise of religion without retribution.

Read the bill in full here. It is not clear whether the second bill has been filed as of yet as it was not located on the South Carolina legislature website.

During the hearing, a Muslim man spoke against the proposals, stating that if the prayer is Christian, it could make those of other faiths feel ostracized.

“It’s a slippery slope,” said Michael Muhammad. “We’ve been down it before. Let’s leave it alone.”

But one resident said that he wouldn’t feel left out if he saw a teacher praying with Christian students.

“If my teacher, when I was in middle school, was praying at her desk or praying with a couple of students, and I was agnostic, atheist, Jewish [or] whatever—not a part of her prayer—I don’t think I’d feel intimidated or uncomfortable,” Alan Patrick stated, according to WSOC-TV.

Reps. Mike Burns, R-Greenville; Steven Long, R-Boiling Springs; Todd Atwater, R-Lexington; Josiah Magnuson, R-Campobello; Rick Martin, R-Newberry and Ashley Trantham, R-Greenville, are co-sponsors of the bills. Several are active in their churches.

As previously reported, in 2014, over 400 South Carolina residents attended a rally in support of putting prayer back in school. Official school prayer was first banned in America in 1962 in the Supreme Court decision of Engle v. Vitale, which involved a case out of Hyde Park, New York. Prior to the ruling, students were led in a scripted prayer every morning, which read, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.”

“When we let God back in our schools openly, I believe we can expect God’s hands to grow our kids [into] what they need to be once again,” Cliff Leonard, pastor of New Providence Baptist Church, told WBTW-TV at the time.

As previously reported, in 1806, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and vice-president of the Bible Society of Philadelphia, said, “The only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”

In 1828, just 41 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution, Noah Webster, known as the Father of American Scholarship and Education, wrote, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed. … No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”


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  • Good news. Thank you to all the folks who made this happen. Pray now it becomes law.

    • ♥LadyInChrist♥InGodITrust♥

      I agree it is good news.

  • james blue

    But one resident said that he wouldn’t feel left out if he saw a teacher praying with a couple of Christian students.

    “If my teacher, when I was in middle school, was praying at her desk or praying with a couple of students, and I was agnostic, atheist, Jewish [or] whatever—-not a part of her prayer—I don’t think I’d feel intimidated or uncomfortable,” Alan Patrick stated, according to WSOC-TV.

    Thing is you are non of those, The question should be how you would feel if a Muslim teacher led a Muslim prayer in your classroom, or a Satanist teacher. Empathy isn’t trying to understand how others feel about a situation from your perspective, it’s about trying to understand it from theirs.

  • SleepersAwake

    Christians need to start standing up en masse to stop this madness. God’s word will cut these evil people down.

    • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

      What’s “evil” about keeping the government out of religion?

      • getstryker

        NOTHING . . keeping ‘government’ out of religion was the intent of the 1st Amendment.

        The ‘EVIL’ is the attempt to keep religion out of government! I would remind readers that there were ‘paid’ Congressional Chaplains since the early days in this country. They still open each session of the House & Senate with prayer.

        The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution addresses: “Freedom of Religion” which fully
        prohibits the Federal government from ever establishing a ‘official church’ and protecting the right to free exercise of YOUR religion. If that includes Christians, Muslims, Satanists and those with NO faith, etc. – it is protected.

        The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion in two clauses — the “establishment” clause, and the “free exercise” clause.

        Notice that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the First Amendment, nor is it found anywhere else in the Constitution.

        There is much, much more on this subject – do the research . . the ‘truth’ is out there – find it – know it!

        • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

          But this law would allow government employees to push their religion on other people’s children. I have this odd idea that parents, not teachers, get to decide that.

          Notice that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the First Amendment, nor is it found anywhere else in the Constitution.

          Nor have I ever claimed it was.

          There is much, much more on this subject – do the research . . the ‘truth’ is out there – find it – know it!

          The truth is that teachers praying with students has been ruled unconstitutional at the federal level for decades, so a state law can’t change that.

          • getstryker

            I am NOT advocating that teachers say prayers or preach to kids in school. I am quite interested in the outcome of this situation & am simply waiting to see the resolution. Time will tell, won’t it! . . .

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            I am NOT advocating that teachers say prayers or preach to kids in school.

            Well, this bill, H. 3345, says:
            A teacher employed by a public school district may express a religious viewpoint, and also may conduct or participate in any student-led prayer or student-organized prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious gatherings organized by students of a public school pursuant to Section 59-1-435, Section 59-1-441, or Section 59-1-442, or another provision of law.

            They are NOT representing the school/government.

            Yes, they are. They’re government employees on the clock.

          • getstryker

            And I will simply repeat what I said:

            I am quite interested in the outcome of this situation & am simply waiting to see the resolution. Whether the state law is passed and challenged is the question – we’ll wait to see. Time will tell, . .

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            Of course it will be challenged, it violates established case law.

          • getstryker

            it very probably will and that is what I want to see the result of. I’m not trying to argue with you over this – I just what to see what happens if it goes to a ‘conservative’ Supreme Court. As I said: Time will Tell.

      • SleepersAwake

        Try reading the history about our nation. Start with Art 1, Sec 7: Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
        Why do you suppose they included the term Sundays excepted?
        Think hard…..

        • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

          Try reading the history about our nation.

          True, there ARE lessens about how bad it can get when the government gets involved with religion, such as when Boston hanged Quakers for being heretics.

          Why do you suppose they included the term Sundays excepted?

          Why do you think both mentions of religion in the constitution are preceded by “no”?

  • ♥LadyInChrist♥InGodITrust♥

    Great news! I hope it passes.

  • Michael C

    The reason teachers (representatives of the government) cannot lead or join students in prayer is the US Constitution.

    SC lawmakers are attempting to enact a law that would allow teachers to violate the US Constitution.

    Okay, question time;

    Which will win? The US Constitution or South Carolina law?

  • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

    Passing laws that violate longstanding court decisions just wastes money; these selfish legislators are just pandering to constituents with no regard to genuine religious rights.

  • Stewart

    So what happens when a Muslim teacher joins a few Muslim students in prayer at school? What about when the Jehovah’s witnesses do? The Mormons? The Branch Davidians?

  • There is nothing illegal about any of this because it is all on a volunteer basis.

  • Cady555

    “South Carolina Lawmakers Re-Introduce Bill That Would Protect Rights of Teachers to Proselytize your Children.”

    Have you looked at demographic information lately? 30% or more of people, including new teachers, graduating now are not christian.

    With this law, Muslim teachers will be able to lead your children in prayers to Allah and you would have no recourse.

    Teachers will be able to tell your children that prayer has no value. Teachers will be able to put up displays saying belief in a deity is ignorant. Kindetgarten teachers will be able to tell your child that there is no God.

    Do you want government employees proselytizing your children?

    The law as it stands now is good and fair. All students can express any belief and they can pray (or not) to their deity without interference by government employees.

    If teachers can express their religious views while acting with government authority, they can discourage your child’s religious expression.

    Why do you want this?

  • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

    The founders did not want government sponsoring a particular denomination.

    Read Madison (you know, the “father of the constitution”). He said it covered a lot more than that.

    Suffice it to say that the founders did not want to be biased concerning the many denominations but they certainly were not leaving the door open for false religions.

    No, they knew about other religions and intended the first amendment to include them. There are no “false” religions under US law, just religions.

    Here’s what Jefferson wrote about his Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, which predated and influenced the first amendment:
    The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination. — Jefferson, from his 1821 autobiography.

    By the way, “Mahometan” = Muslim.

    Since links don’t get approved, I’ll just say that an apologetics URL is not where I go for unbiased history.

    • SleepersAwake

      Be intellectually dishonest but people who know our history are not deceived. The founders never intended for god to be removed from. Government operations. The original declarations of Congress attest to that.

      • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

        The founders never intended for god to be removed from. Government operations.

        “Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” — James Madison to Edward Livingston, 10 July 1822

        “Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

        In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation.” — James Madison, Detached Memoranda, ca. 1817