Dem seeks constitutional amendment protecting school prayer

"As a Christian and a public servant, I am convinced that the Constitution was intended to ensure that the government not dictate religious practices or prevent individuals from worshiping as they choose — like praying voluntarily in school," Rahall said Monday. "Many, including early English settlers, came to America to escape governments that established religions or discriminated against certain religious practices, and our Founding Fathers reflected on that when they crafted our government's guiding document."

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Rahall added that faith is a "critical and recurring theme" in the United States, and said it should be permitted on a voluntary basis in schools.

"As people of faith, Americans have often turned to prayer — for comfort, for inspiration, for strength — at some of our Nation's most trying times," he said. "As Christians, we know what a powerful tool prayer can be to heal and focus our national energies in common cause, and so did our Founding Fathers."

The text of his proposed amendment says nothing in the Constitution "shall be construed to prohibit voluntary prayer or require prayer in a public school, or to prohibit voluntary prayer or require prayer at a public school extracurricular activity."