Philadelphia City Council hears about school prayer

Philadelphia City Council held a hearing Monday to explore prayer in the public schools.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell called for the hearing.

“Prayer can promote more virtuous living and may have a positive impact on student behavior in schools,” Blackwell said.

Robin Schatz of the Jewish Federation, however, said school-sponsored prayer would be unconstitutional.

“Government-sponsored prayer debases distinctive religious expression vital to maintaining pluralistic religious beliefs,” said Schatz.

A representative of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has no quarrel with prayer, also spoke at Monday’s meeting.

“Prayer is allowed in school today, anybody who wants to pray can pray, as long as it’s not school sponsored,” said Bill Ewing.

Philadelphia resident Bertha Simmons, who said prayer was mandatory when she went to school, said it still should be.

“We all need prayer in school we all need prayer at home.”

The council took no action on the prayer in schools except to hear testimony.

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