Lawmaker Rewrites ‘Prayer at the Flagpole’ Bill to Make It Pre-, Post- School Day

A Cheatham County lawmaker says he has reworked his “prayer at the flagpole” bill to meet school board regulations. WPLN’s Joe White reports the new version closely follows a law passed in Florida.

State Representative Phillip Johnson of Cheatham County threw away his original bill to allow teachers to gather at the flagpole for religious services.

The new version limits participation of school employees to events taking place before or after official school hours.

“Teachers, coaches, personnel – before the school day starts, if they want to meet and participate, they should be able to.”

The issue arose from an agreement reached by the Cheatham County school system and the American Civil Liberties Union, barring coaches and teachers from attending religious gatherings held on school property.

Under the new wording, the meeting must be a student-initiated event.

The bill is one step away from a floor vote by the full House of Representatives. The Senate version is not so far along, but is scheduled in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.

Chelsea Kallman contributed to this story.

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The bill is HB 3266 P Johnson /SB 3060 Summerville.

Johnson’s amendment reportedly rewrites (completely replaces) the original bill. At the time of our reporting this story, that amendment hadn’t been posted in the state legislative data base.

Our previous story, Cheatham Legislator Backs Teachers at Student Prayer Groups, reports some background on how the issue developed from a lawsuit against the Cheatham County school system.

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