September 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said recently that he fondly remembers school-sanctioned prayers during his student years and thinks the practice should be restored.

“I don’t think it hurt us at all,” Bryant told the Hattiesburg American. “I think it built our character, and I think it is what we should continue to do.”

The governor added, “I know it’s difficult when you start talking about denominations and different beliefs, but I think there is a way for us to have a non-denominational opening prayer when the opportunity is available to let people know there is a God. Those children should know that he does care about them, particularly within their classroom.”

The newspaper said Bryant, a Methodist, doesn’t plan to act to restore government-sponsored devotions but looks forward to a time when such prayer will again be common.

That time won’t come, however, without a change in U.S. Supreme Court precedent. In its 1962 Engel v. Vitale ruling, the high court said government promotion of worship in public schools breaches the First Amendment wall of separation between church and state.