The state of New Hampshire currently has a law on the books — 194:15-a — that allows “recitation of the traditional Lord’s prayer in public elementary schools.” The law permits teachers to lead the class in the prayer (if the school district okays it). Even if it’s voluntary for students, it’s not like any other religion has this privilege.
The law has been on the books since 1975, under the guise of “freedom of religion.”
That could soon change. Just over a week from now, when the State House is back in session, State Rep. Amanda Bouldin (below), a Democrat, plans to introduce legislation that would repeal that law.
House Bill 1306 is about as straightforward as it gets:
This bill repeals the provision permitting school districts to authorize the recitation of the Lord’s prayer in public elementary schools.
Boom. That’s it. If it passes, it would go into effect 60 days later.
To be sure, there’s no indication districts are doing this, because teachings shoving prayer in their students’ faces is already unconstitutional. The Supreme Court already struck down mandatory school prayers several decades ago, and New Hampshire’s Supreme Court later issued a similar ruling of its own. Still, unless someone challenges the law — with legal standing to do so — or there’s a legislative effort to repeal it, the old laws remain on the books.
That’s what Bouldin is trying to change.
She actually tried doing this last year, too, but a similar bill didn’t get any traction. It did, however, get criticism from a conservative group falsely claiming it was inspired by “animus toward religion.” (No one’s saying kids can’t pray on their own.)
We’ll see if there are similar arguments this time around. But there shouldn’t be. This sensible bill is just a way of cleaning up state law by getting rid of a section that suggests Christianity gets special treatment. It doesn’t deserve it, and this law should be stricken.
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)