CITIZEN VOICES®
Lord’s Prayer in NH schools?

Feb 08, 2019

New Hampshire law from 1975 states that school districts may authorize the recitation of the traditional Lord’s Prayer in public elementary schools. The law makes clear that saying the prayer would be voluntary for students. Students would be informed by their teacher that the prayer was said by “our pilgrim fathers” and that the exercise would not be intended to influence the students’ personal religious beliefs.

A 2019 bill to remove this law from the books was recently given a thumbs down by a House committee. 

Who gets to decide?

Some lawmakers have pointed out that the current law uses the word “shall” to describe how teachers should conduct the prayer if their school district authorizes it, calling into question whether teachers would be allowed to forgo the prayer in such a situation. 

No school district in the state currently authorizes schools to say the Lord’s Prayer under this law. Still, the law’s existence has fueled an ideological debate, with some favoring the right of local school districts to decide on the issue and others feeling the law’s very existence violates the separation of church and state. 

Pros and cons

Those who want to repeal this law argue it is unconstitutional, citing a New Hampshire Supreme Court advisory opinion to that effect. They say prayer has no place in public education and that religious formation – or lack thereof – should be left up to parents.

Those who think the law should remain as it is have argued that the 2019 repeal bill is motivated by anti-religious sentiment. They point out that the current law makes it clear that the prayer would be meant to honor New England’s early European settlers, not to indoctrinate students. 

Learn more about issues of religious freedom in New Hampshire 

Should New Hampshire repeal the law allowing public elementary school teachers to recite the Lord’s Prayer with their students?

Responses to this question may be delivered to legislators as part of our Citizen Voices® campaign. Only responses from people living in New Hampshire would be included in any report to legislators. Please indicate whether or not you live in New Hampshire in your response.

Have Your Say

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Comments

Pamela Kendall
- Hudson

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:59pm

No repeal on The Lord's Prayer. This is the United States which was founded on biblical principals. In the early days , the Holy Bible was the one and only book used in schools for educating children. Today, the United States has a zillion problems due to one major problem, and that is we've strayed too far from the God of the Bible. Those of a different religion may ask to be excused momentarily from the room.

Emily Rose
- Dover

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:32pm

#NH Resident, Yes, repeal. Separation of church and state.

C. Wasserstrom
- Manchester

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:21pm

Yes...if Lord's prayer allowed, other religions will want equal time... public school is not the venue for public praying.

David Lefebvre
- ROCHESTER

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 9:45am

Yes.

Sonja Kap
- alton

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 5:32pm

The Lords Prayer is not only historical to our country and is the basis for which our country was founded. It is a good thing for kids to hear recited as a encouragement to follow truths and good behavior in our society.
"Our Father which art in heaven, hollowed by thy name, thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever amen.
There is a higher power, forgiving others, avoiding temptation and delivering us from evil... all good things that are needed in our world today.
When I was a child the Lords prayer was a great comfort to me and I used to recite it to myself when I was scared or troubled, it was gave me a peace even before I understood much about God himself.
All 5 of my children know the Lords prayer and are happy to have such a beautiful prayer memorized.

Patricia Howe
- Northfield

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 4:40pm

Should be allowed. Time to bring God back to our schools

Francis Murzyn
- Merrimack

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 7:08am

Should be allowed. If you want to fine...if not fine. Freedom of choice, but many would like to remove the choice from those who believe in prayer.

Related Bill

HB 289 (2019)
Bill Status: In Committee
Hearing date: Jan 17, 2019

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