Arkansas Preschool Owner Wants Singing Prayers

An Arkansas legislator who owns a preschool that receives state funding plans to circumvent a rule barring religious activity in publicly funded schools by having children sing prayers.

Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) owns Growing God’s Kingdom in West Fork. He told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that “it just dawned on me that, well, we could sing our prayer” instead of saying it. Official prayer is not allowed in schools that, like Harris’, receive grants through the Arkansas Better Choice (ABC) program.

Harris’ school has received $2.6 million in ABC grants since 2005, the Associated Press said, but that may not continue if he tries to skirt the program’s rules. A spokeswoman for the agency that oversees ABC grants said singing prayers are not approved and state Rep. Johnnie Roebuck (D-Arkadelphia) said Harris’ school will lose its funding if Harris “wants to push it,” the AP reported.