FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)—The Kentucky House voted 79-18 today to set aside one day each year for Kentuckians to pray or reflect on the state’s public schools and their students.
House Bill 166 would designate “A Day of Prayer for Kentucky’s Students” on the last Wednesday of each September to coincide with the global See You at the Pole™ student-led school prayer event held on that day for nearly 30 years. HB 166 sponsor Rep. Regina Huff said the bill supports a time of student-led prayer or contemplation one day a year on school campuses statewide.
Student participation in the event would be voluntary and open to all faiths and religious traditions, said Huff, R-Williamsburg.
“This bill clearly states that it is all in accordance to their own faith and conscience to pray, meditate or otherwise reflect. There (are) not any particular religions … mapped out in this bill,” said Huff.
“It is for whomever. This is an event where all are welcome and united in a positive manner,” she said.
Similar legislation found in 2018 HB 40 passed the House 83-5 last year.
Voting against the bill was Rep. Jeffery Donohue, D-Fairdale. Donohue said he represents a district where public schools serve students from diverse faiths and cultural backgrounds. He questioned whether the legislation would work for school districts like his.
“I think there’s going to be undue burden at some of the schools and especially in Jefferson County, because we have such a large population that they will not be able to accommodate everyone who wants to do that,” said Donohue. “And I’m just one of those individuals, I don’t like to dictate to schools what their agendas are.”
Supporting the bill was Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, who questioned why the House is debating the right to pray.
“Have you not read our preamble to our Constitution? Have you not read our Constitution? Our Bill of Rights—do they not talk about God?” asked Blanton. “All we’re asking for is that our children have the opportunity, if they choose, to express their God-given rights.”
HB 166 now goes to the Senate for consideration.