House education panel backs school prayer bill

Students’ right to pray aloud in Indiana schools would be reaffirmed under a measure a House education committee has approved.

Democratic state Rep. John Bartlett’s measure was approved Tuesday on a 10-2 vote. Bartlett has said his measure would give students an opportunity to pray in school, but not mandate it.

Supporters say the bill would send a powerful signal about students’ First Amendment right to express religious views. They say lawsuit-averse administrators are too quick to object to public affirmations of faith.

But bill opponents question the need because students’ freedom of religion is already acknowledged in schools.

The measure also encourages high schools to offer classes on religions of the world and affirms students’ right to wear religious clothing or jewelry.

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