A bill that would have allowed teachers to join students in prayer during school hours was gutted by the House after concerns were raised that it violated religious civil rights. The bill would have allowed the joint prayer to occur if all students present had a signed consent form from their parents.

Shreveport Rep. Alan Seabaugh says the old bill would have targeted religious minorities.

 “Let’s say you have 15 kids on a soccer team. 14 kids want the coach to lead them in prayer, one kid who’s an atheist, a muslim, or somebody who doesn’t. He is going to bullied, he’s going to be coerced into signing the consent form”.

Seabaugh proposed the amendment that radically altered the legislation, which now permits teachers to bow their head when students pray.

The Shreveport Republican says the old version of the bill was obviously unconstitutional, and would have led to successful challenges by organizations like the ACLU.

 “When they win your school district then has to pay their legal fees and costs, which is hundreds of thousands of dollars. And there is no doubt that they will win”.

But Ruston Representative Robert Shadoin, who sponsored the bill in the House, fiercely contested the amendment that altered the original bill, arguing that establishment clause that protects against state sponsored religious activity could be waived in this case.

 “Who says you can’t wave constitutional rights? We do it all the time with the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendment, all the time. So if you want to give parents the control of their children, defeat this amendment”.

The bill heads back to the senate.

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