S. RES. 11
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
January 23 (legislative day, January 3), 2013
Mr. Vitter submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Expressing support for prayer at school board meetings.
Whereas the freedom to practice religion and to express religious thought is acknowledged to be a fundamental and unalienable right belonging to all individuals;
Whereas the United States was founded on the principle of freedom of religion and not freedom from religion;
Whereas the framers of the Constitution of the United States intended that the First Amendment to the Constitution would prohibit the Federal Government from enacting any law that favors one religious denomination over another, not that the First Amendment to the Constitution would prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialogue;
Whereas, in 1983, the Supreme Court held in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society and invoking divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, but rather is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of the United States;
Whereas voluntary prayer by elected bodies should not be limited to prayer in State legislatures and Congress;
Whereas school boards are deliberative bodies of adults, similar to a legislature in that they are elected by the people, act in the public interest, and hold sessions that are open to the public for voluntary attendance; and
Whereas voluntary prayer by an elected body should be protected under law and encouraged in society because voluntary prayer has become a part of the fabric of our society, voluntary prayer acknowledges beliefs widely held among the people of the United States, and the Supreme Court has held that it is not a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution for a public body to invoke divine guidance: Now, therefore, be it
That the Senate—
recognizes that prayer before school board meetings is a protected act in accordance with the fundamental principles upon which the United States was founded; and
expresses support for the practice of prayer at the beginning of school board meetings.