Indianapolis, IN January 11th 2012 – Introduced on January 9, 2012, Indiana Senate Bill No. 251 calls for “Allowing the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school to provide for the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day.” To take effect July 1, 2012, the new bill would allow public schools to require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day.
“The implications of this bill are far-reaching,” said Shannon Kietzman, who is the State Chapter Leader for the Indiana State Chapter as well as the National Membership Coordinator of the National Atheist Party, or NAP. “Not only would the bill give schools the authority to bring religion into a non-religious setting, but it would also place the burden on families who do not want to participate. Those children are at risk of being ostracized due to their difference of religion or lack of belief.”
According to the bill, students may be exempt from participation in the prayer if the student chooses not to participate or if the student’s parents choose to not have the student participate. The bill further specifies that the Lord’s Prayer is to be the prayer that is recited, though it gives the school the authority to determine which version of the prayer is to be recited.
“This bill sends a clear message: Christianity is our chosen religion,” continued Kietzman. “It further implies that religion is necessary for a person to be of sound character and to be a good citizen. This is an insult to atheists and to all others who do not practice a religion.”
The bill states that the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer is intended to help students “recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen.” Critics of the bill believe the current wording implies that those who are not religious are immoral and incapable of becoming good citizens.
“When it comes down to it, this bill is discriminatory and is in clear conflict with the Constitution,” said Kietzman. “The NAP is encouraging Indiana residents to contact their representatives and to make it clear that we do not approve of this bill. Religion is something that should be taught at home, at the church or in other private settings. It has no place in school.”
The National Atheist Party is a progressive, secular 527 political organization committed to the Constitutional ideals of Freedom of Expression and the Separation of Church and State. Founded online in March 2011, the National Atheist Party has grown to include chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“The National Atheist Party supports the secular vision of the Founding Fathers,” adds Troy Boyle, who is the President of the NAP. “They were unified in their strongly felt belief that no one religion should be favored over any other. This bill is a slap in the face to any and all U.S. citizens that may hail from a different tradition than Christianity. Buddhist families, Muslim, Wiccan and even atheist families must be welcome in the halls of learning. The NAP is working for the day that discriminatory practices such as these are a thing of the past.”
The National Atheist Party is open to members of all faiths and ideologies, races and creeds, sexual preferences and cultures. We prize diversity above all things, and oppose those who would enforce a homogeneity of belief or political ideology.
To learn more about the party, visit www.usanap.org.