A bill she says would pave the way for school days to begin with the Lord’s Prayer in every public school in Mississippi has been proposed by state Rep. Jill Ford.

Ford, a Republican from Madison, described her bill, which has not been posted in the Legislature’s bill status system, as one that “will more than likely never see the day” in a Facebook post.

“Can you only imagine what would begin to happen in the Spiritual Realm if the children would stand before Him lifting their heads in prayer asking Him to ‘lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil?” Ford wrote. 

“Oh how we would see the atmosphere begin to change across Mississippi as depression and suicide would stop becoming the norm. We would watch as our children’s grades begin to rise, their hearts softened and their minds saturated with good thoughts and not thoughts of addictions.”

Mandatory or faculty-led prayer has been largely banned from public elementary, middle and high schools by a series of Supreme Court decisions since 1962.

Section 8524(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 sought to clarify the guidelines for public schools by holding that while teachers could not lead or encourage a prayer, they also cannot try to dissuade a student from doing so.

“When acting in their official capacities as representatives of the State,” the law says, “teachers, school administrators and other school employees are prohibited by the First Amendment from encouraging or discouraging prayer and from actively participating in such activity with students.”

Students are, however, allowed to pray privately and create functioning religion-based clubs that meet outside of established school hours.

Private and parochial schools are not covered by these rulings, nor are colleges or universities.

Ford’s bill might allow students to opt out of saying the prayer, but it would still stand in contradiction to the Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in Lee vs. Weisman, which held that “the State may not place the student dissenter in the dilemma of participating or protesting.”

In deference to that ruling, Ford wrote in her announcement that the first step is asking the U.S. Congress to allow prayer back in school.



“Stranger things have happened,” Ford said. “It got taken out by one hell-bent woman. Maybe, just maybe, this hell-bent woman could have something to do with getting it put back in.”

Ford’s reference to the “hell-bent woman” refers to Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of the group American Atheists who challenged the policy of mandatory prayers and Bible readings in Baltimore Public Schools, where her child was a student.

O’Hair won that Supreme Court case, and numerous subsequent rulings have reinforced the ban on faculty or staff-led prayers.

President Donald Trump last week defended students who said they felt they can’t pray in their schools and warned administrators they risk losing federal funds if they violate their students’ rights to religious expression.