Florence community debates value of prayer in schools

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A forum called “Put Prayer Back in School” was held by Parent Media University on Monday.

South Carolina House of Representatives, Robert Williams and Richie Yow, took part in a panel filled with community members. Yow said there are currently two bills in committee that would allow prayer in schools.

“One of the bills, it actually says teachers can lead the prayer,” Yow said. “The second bill says the teachers can be involved with the prayer if they’re invited by a child.”

Yow said he has advocated for prayer in schools for the past three years.

“A group of us legislatures got together and discussed it,” he said. "This is a bipartisan event, it’s not one party or the other.”

He said the bill is to fight for the rights of children who want to openly pray in school.

“It’s about the children, about the children having a God-given right to be able to have that prayer in their school, that we come to this country for,” he explained. “We’re going to stand up for that and fight for our children and their education and their rights to pray in school.”

Michael Muhammad disagreed with the idea to allow students to pray in school. He also held a position on the panel.

“I’m a Muslim and I wouldn't want my kids saying Christian prayers or Buddhist prayers or devil worshipping prayers, and I’m sure they would feel the same way about their kids having to say Muslim prayers,” Muhammad said.

He said open prayer in schools will create peer pressure among students.

“It puts them in a position, if they don’t want to pray, they’ll feel compelled to do it anyway," he said.

High school senior, Kaley Amerson, said she misses the days when she prayed with her classmates in school.

“I remember 5-k through like third grade, we prayed during lunch, we prayed during the announcements, we had a whole minute of moment of silence, and now we just get ten seconds,” she said.

Amerson said she would love to see prayer in schools come back.

“I feel like prayer should be in school, no matter what religion you are, Muslim or Catholic,” she said. “Everyone has a choice. You can do it or not do it; It doesn’t matter.”

Yow said he is trying to get both bills out of committee and on the House floor by March.

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