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Church State Issues

Schools must allow prayer to get government money

Oct 13, 2011

Arizona Republic article

schools must allow prayer to get government money this looks horrible for atheist and 1st amendment lovers. looks like the feds are paying schools money if they allow PRAYER in their schools


With money on line, schools say 'prayer'
Ben Feller
Associated Press
May. 13, 2003 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Threatened with the loss of federal money, the vast majority of the nation's schools have declared that they allow prayer wherever and however the U.S. Constitution permits.

For the first time, U.S. law requires school districts to prove that they have no policy that stifles court-protected prayer by students or teachers. Those that don't comply risk losing a share of elementary and secondary money totaling $23 billion.

As of late Friday, 42 states had certified that all of their schools follow the law.

Five states - Arizona, California, Ohio, Illinois and New York - combined showed 150 to 200 school districts out of compliance. All those states expect the number to be zero soon.

Arizona state officials reported Monday that 48 of the state's 400 districts and charter schools have not yet turned in a form certifying that they are complying with federal school-prayer mandates. The state originally required that all schools send in the form by April 15.

"It's simply a bureaucratic thing," schools chief Tom Horne said. "They're not defying a federal mandate. It's just a matter of getting the paperwork taken care of."

Federal officials have extended the deadline to Thursday, Horne said.

Indiana, Nevada and New Hampshire haven't reported but assure U.S. officials they expect to send clean reports soon. District of Columbia officials have not responded.

Initial responses by the April 15 deadline showed some states had dozens of schools out of compliance; other states failed to reply at all. Leaders in those states say paperwork problems, not trouble over prayer policies, accounted for the delay.

Most of the more than 15,000 school districts have since certified that they follow the law, and federal officials seem content the states have shown good faith.

"We're not at the point where we're talking about taking funding away from schools or states," the Education Department's Susan Aspey said. "The goal all along has been to make sure local school districts do not have any policies in place that sanction religion, or policies that prohibit voluntary religious expression by students." Prayer is permitted provided it happens outside class instruction and is not initiated by school officials, guidelines say. Students may pray at recess, and teachers may hold their own Bible study at lunch, but teachers may not lead students in prayer.

Staff members contributed to this article.