By Robert King
The pastors came before the politicians Monday to ask for help with a wide variety of societal ill: poverty and drug use, suicide and school violence, teen pregnancy and HIV, crumbling families, weakened churches and even dropping SAT scores. The help they sought? More prayer in schools.
To that end, the ministers asked the Indiana House Education Committee to support House Bill 1024, which seeks to prevent public schools from discriminating against students for their religious beliefs and how they express them. It calls for allowing students to pray aloud and engage in religious activities during school, including the creation of a “public forum” for religion and allowing students to wear clothing, jewelry and other accessories that bear religious messages.
“I believe that school prayer may cause students to acknowledge a power greater than themselves, on which they can rely for comfort and help in times of trouble,” said the Rev. David W. Greene, Sr., president of the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, who testified in favor of the bill. “This will lead to decreased reliance on drugs, alcohol, sex and dangerous amusements.”
Also speaking in support of the bill was Mary Carmen Zakrajsek, a Carmel High School student whose anti-abortion group found controversy when it posted a pro-life sign in school. “Student voices are being silenced,” she said, “and it’s time to take a stand.”