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Call for School Prayer Draws Rebuke
A Philadelphia City Council resolution calling for hearings on prayer in the public schools has drawn a sharp rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League's regional director.
In a letter to the resolution's chief sponsor, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (D-District 3), Barry Morrison wrote that "any governmental or school promotion or endorsement of a student's private religious activity may be considered a violation of the constitution."
"Given the body of well-settled law on the issue of prayer in public schools," he continued, "there is no necessity for a hearing on the matter."
The resolution, which was passed several weeks ago and co-sponsored by several other council members, called on the council's Committee on Education to hold hearings on prayer in the public schools.
The document stated that encouraging "students to not only pray for themselves but to pray for others can cause students to think more of their follow [sic] classmates then [sic] of themselves, to lead lives of thankfulness."
The resolution also stated that prayer promotes "more virtuous living and may have a positive impact on student behavior."
Blackwell couldn't be reached for comment.
She told www.philly.com: "We want to have the discussion so people will know young people have the right of free expression."
She also said she planned to schedule the hearings before summer recess.
The ADL has also sent a letter to State Rep. Sam Smith, the Jefferson County lawmaker who serves as Speaker of the House in Harrisburg. It raised concerns about reports that the name of Jesus would be uttered in the General Assembly's opening prayer in the fall.