North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, has signed legislation that will explicitly allow students in public schools across the state to engage in voluntary student-led prayer.
The new law permits students to create religious clubs and coordinate prayer groups, reports North Carolina Fox affiliate WGHP.
The three-page law also allows students to pray by themselves or in groups — aloud or silently — in exactly the same way they can discuss or think silently about any other issue.
Additionally, students will be able to communicate their religious beliefs in written assignments and artwork under the new law without fear of censorship from teachers or school officials.
The legislation does set limits on prayer and God talk at taxpayer-funded schools. Religious students won’t be able to interrupt other students who are trying to learn, for example. They also can’t harass nonreligious students.
The law, which takes effect immediately, sailed through North Carolina’s House and Senate chambers with overwhelming support. In the Senate, the vote was 48-1. In the lower chamber, it was 106-9.
Advocates for religious freedom are happy with the outcome. They are also calling for laws allowing voluntary student-led prayer across the country.
“The North Carolina bill is the kind of legislation that is needed in every state,” said Bill Donohue, who heads the Catholic League, in a press release. “To that end, we are contacting the governors in the other 49 states asking them to adopt the North Carolina law as a model in their own state. We are also sending them a copy of the law that Governor McCrory signed.”