July/August 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Thirty-seven members of Congress are pushing a resolution that would put the U.S. House of Representatives on record in support of official prayers before school board meetings.             

Introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), H. Res. 662 claims U.S. Supreme Court rulings allow ceremonial prayers before government meetings, calling them “a tolerable acknowledgement of beliefs widely held among the people of the Nation.” It also asserts that the United States was “founded on the principle of freedom of religion and not freedom from religion.”

The resolution is apparently in response to an August 2011 decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against a Delaware school board’s invocations. In that ruling, the court struck down the prayers, which were almost always Christian, noting that students often attend school board meetings and that they should not be subjected to worship against their will.

Americans United filed a brief in Doe v. Indian River School District challenging official prayers before the board meetings.

In a recent “Wall of Separation” blog post, AU Senior Policy Analyst Rob Boston called the congressional resolution a threat to church-state separation and a waste of time.

“[Congress should] stop playing politics with religion,” he said, “and focus on the things that really matter to Americans.”

At press time, the resolution had not yet been put to a vote.