INDIANAPOLIS (WANE/AP) -- A Republican state senator is pushing for Indiana's public school students to start the school day by reciting the Lord's Prayer.
Senate education committee chairman Dennis Kruse of Auburn has filed legislation that would let school districts require the prayer to be recited, but would also grant broad exemptions.
The measure might have little chance of winning approval since the Senate's leader has assigned it to the rules committee, which rarely advances bills. But it's part of a broader push by Kruse and other lawmakers to put religion in Indiana's public schools.
Kruse sponsored a bill last year seeking to allow schools to teach creationism, the belief that life was created as described in the Bible. This year, he's seeking to allow questioning by teachers of scientific principles like evolution.
Kruse's office released the following statement about the proposed bill:
My intention in filing this legislation was to foster a conversation about religious liberty in our state and our country. I wanted to address the growing concern shared by many of my fellow Hoosiers that religious liberty is under attack and religious values are being pushed out of the public sphere. While I never expected the bill to receive a formal hearing in the legislature, I hope it has been successful in drawing attention to these issues, which I believe are vital to the health and prosperity of our society.
The very mention of Kruse's bill draws different opinions among his constituents in Auburn.
"I believe in the separation of church and state and I don't think religion is something that should be forced on school-aged children," said James Kimball.
Brea Liddell said, "Actually that makes me pretty excited. I think we need Christ back in our schools. So I personally feel that it's a very good thing to do."
The bill Kruse has introduced, to be read for first time and referred to Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure on Jan. 7:
A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning education.
SOURCE: IC 20-30-5-4.6; (13)IN0023.1.1. --> SECTION 1. IC 20-30-5-4.6 IS ADDED TO THE INDIANA CODE AS A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2013]:
Sec. 4.6. (a) 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.
(b) 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.
(c) A student is exempt from participation in the prayer if:
(1) the student chooses not to participate; or
(2) the student's parent chooses to have the student not participate.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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