Just days after the Louisiana House gutted a blatantly illegal bill that would’ve allowed public school staffers to pray with children as long as the kids filled out permission slips, the legislature has passed the revised version of the bill… which is excellent news for church/state separation.
The original version of SB 512, passed unanimously by the State Senate in April, was an attempt to fight back against the laws that prohibit teachers and coaches from praying with students. But those laws exist for good reason: Such prayers are coercive and send the message that students must join the prayer to get on the adults’ good side.
The problem with this particular bill was that requiring permission slips didn’t eliminate the issue. The pressure to pray was still there, and the lawsuits would inevitably come if this became law.
The State House knew that and rewrote the bill this week to basically wipe out all of the crazy stuff. The revised version allowed teachers and coaches to do nothing more than bow their heads “in deference and respect” during a student-led, student-initiated prayer.
They got rid of the permission slips, too.
Essentially, the House changed the bill to look exactly like the laws we already have. They could’ve ripped up the paper on which the bill was printed, and nothing would be different.
The revised bill went back to the State Senate on Thursday, where their first action was to reject the House’s revisions and send the bill back to committee… but even an attempt at compromise didn’t work out.
On Friday, the last day the legislature was in session, the Senate begrudgingly passed the watered-down version of the Permission Slip Prayer Bill. It doesn’t require permission slips, and teachers and coaches still won’t be able to pray with students. The bill does nothing.
Efforts by a House-Senate negotiating committee to hammer out a compromise on the final day of the session failed.
[The bill’s sponsor State Sen. Ryan] Gatti was in the House chamber shortly before adjournment trying to convince skeptical House members to go along with his plan.
Shortly before 8 p.m. he said he was still working on getting his version of the bill agreed to.
Unable to reach agreement, Gatti agreed to go with the House version moments before adjournment, winning Senate approval 28-1.
Gatti didn’t say anything on social media about how his prayer bill was a giant failure, but there is evidence he was trying to win support from the public before the Shut Up and Just Bow Bill passed instead.
Everyone send him your thoughts and prayers.
He might be whiny about it, but his inability to pass the bill he originally wanted means the taxpayers of Louisiana dodged a bullet. This was always an illegal attempt at shoving Christianity in the faces of students. That’s no longer the case.
The students can still pray, just as they always could. But the adults won’t be allowed to join them because this isn’t church. Hallelujah.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)