The Kentucky Legislature is considering mandating an annual day of student prayer. Image courtesy of Google Maps

Kentucky considers law on student prayer

(RNS) — The Kentucky Legislature is considering mandating an annual day of student prayer.

House Bill 40 would make the last Wednesday in September "A Day of Prayer for Kentucky’s Students" and would require the state's governor to proclaim it as such every year.

The bill passed the Kentucky House last week by a broad margin and is now in the state Senate.

Regina Huff, a Republican representative from Williamsburg, Ky., who is one of five Republican sponsors of the bill, told a local news outlet that the proposed law is nondiscriminatory because it does not mention a specific religion but allows students to pray or meditate "in accordance with their own faith and consciences.”

Students would participate in the Day of Prayer before the regular school day, she said.

“Their event at school will be student-initiated and -conducted, and always before the start of the school day,” Huff said.

Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican elected in 2014, has declared the last Wednesday in September a day of prayer for Kentucky students for the last two years.

The Supreme Court ruled against school-sponsored prayer in public schools in Engel v. Vitale in 1962.

But courts have generally rejected challenges to "See You at the Pole" events, in which students who want to pray gather at their school's flagpole outside of class time. And the Supreme Court has generally upheld student-led prayer as long as it is not compulsory or organized by school officials.


  1. if students wish to pray, they need NO permission form the state to do so, and need a state- required day of prayer even less than that.

  2. Need this law? There apparently must be a prayer suppression in Kentucky. Ken Ham’s state must be full of heathens.

  3. So now Kentucky is to be a theocracy more than it already is. They do not have enough problems, so now they want to be the laughing stock of the country, while violating the constitution. This is why Kentucky is rated 3rd worst in the state in the nation.

  4. What’s wrong with these people, always trying to find some way to insert religion into the public sphere? Why can’t they be happy in their homes, churches, and private associations?

  5. Don’t do this, my people of faith – DON’T. You’re making a mockery of prayer!

    This so-called “A Day of Prayer for Kentucky’s Students” will only turn them all into HYPOCRITES at so young an age. It’ll only train students to “love to stand and pray [‘at school … before the start of the school day … (or) at their school’s flagpole outside of class time’] so that they may be seen by people. … But they, when they pray, should just go into their inner room, close their door and pray to their Father who is in secret, and their Father who sees what is done in secret will reward them.”

    Source: Matthew 6:5-6

  6. “””A Day of Prayer for Kentucky’s Students” and would require the state’s governor to proclaim it as such every year.”””

    How can it be mandated by the governor and yet be student-led?

    What if a student refuses to pray?

    This law will be struck down quickly…the people of Kentucky will be forced by short-sighted legislators to fund an expensive lawsuit.

  7. They are not your sort of Christian there. They see the power of the state as the tool they need. They don’t want to render under to Caesar, but they sure to like being Caesar.

  8. Obviously Huff does not understand the concept of separation of church & state. What a complete willfully ignorant fool.

  9. Prayer was never banned from our public schools. In fact, the courts have repeatedly upheld the right of student prayer. It just can’t be led in any way or required by the school. We trust our teachers to provide education, not indoctrination. Religion is a freedom. Let’s keep it that way.

  10. What “sort”, then?

    Pessimistic me now here, sorry.

    “They see the power of the state as the tool they need.” Now multiply that 50-fold and who do I get? Fellow born-again Christian brothers & sisters drunk with the wine of cultural/political powers! That’s living day in & day out in a wino family, drunk & binge-ing 24/7. Stuck in a corner amidst all this is poor ‘ol me. The black sheep of the family.

    Trust me, I go to church with these folks. Bible study. Prayer. Retreats.


  11. This happened 40 minutes from my home. The kids were at a student lead “prayer at the pole” type gathering.

    20 years later two kids died at another high school 25 minutes from my home. Marshall County High is nested in a heavily religious community.

    Rep. Huff wants school prayer to be mandatory here yet Christian prayers did not protect these kids. Mandatory Christian prayers and bible verse readings did nothing to protect me or others from the bigoted treatment we received from teachers after the last segregated school closed in ’69. First grade was interesting for me in ’69.

  12. Let’s hope it will be struck down quickly. The KY legislature, currently in session, has far more serious business with which to contend, including a burgeoning deficit in retirement obligations.

  13. As an urban Kentuckian, I can’t say you’re wrong.

  14. Governor Bevin visited the West End of Louisville awhile back and urged its (largely black) residents to *pray violence away*. This part of town is ridden with murders, gun violence, drug trafficking, etc. If I remember, some *black* residents actually fell for this idiocy.

  15. HpO is recommending what Jesus told his listeners about hypocritical types who liked to be seen praying in public. No need to pray in public. If one is gonna’ pray, do it quietly, out of sight of others. Good suggestion, but Bible-Thumpers won’t accept it. Gotta’ be seen 🙁

  16. I remember when he did this. He wouldn’t stick around and answer questions after he trotted out that “weak tea” suggestion to a large congregation.
    My relatives tell me that the city shifted focus away from WE Louisville decades ago. It’s as if the residents gradually lost importance and all priorities were for more money to be made elsewhere. As if city services were for more “deserving” people. Not a new practice in this country, a factory, rail yard, interstate, slum lord real estate tycoons, and politically connected con artists have wrecked many a community and will continue to do so.

  17. Why would they want to deal with those things when they can legislate faith 8nstrad?

    Fiscal responsibility are hard.

  18. I thank yu meen physcal responsibility. I thank Im rite.

  19. “There apparently must be a prayer suppression in Kentucky.” I’d not be surprised if Gov. Bevin and ilk think so.

  20. Brother Joseph Jaglowicz – we’re on the same page – who’d thunk it? I’m humbled. Thanks.

  21. Contrary to the ideology of my Christian Right Nationalist brothers and sisters, you’re so right:

    “Christian prayers did not protect these kids.”

    Like our friend Ben in Oakland said not often enough, they’ve “weaponized” their Christianity against fellow Americans. KIDS EVEN.

    Atheism is justified.

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