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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ryan Says Prayer in Schools in a State Issue


PROVO, Utah - Prayer in public schools was prohibited by the United States Supreme Court in 1962, but Representative Paul D. Ryan said on Wednesday he believed states should have the right to decide whether it should be allowed.

“That's a constitutional issue of the states,'' Mr. Ryan told a campaign volunteer during a visit to a Romney for President call center in Orem.

The volunteer, Jenny Free, 40, said she was a mother of nine children and asked Mr. Ryan if “we could give back to the states the right to decide if you want prayer or pledge in the schools.''

Mr. Ryan called the decision to say a prayer or recite the Pledge of Allegiance a “moral responsibility of parents.''

“Exactly,” Ms. Free responded, according to footage shot by a television reporter for NBC News, “so I am hoping to try and push that.”

“You know, in Utah, I would think you would have a pretty good chance,'' Mr. Ryan told her.

Although excluding prayer from public schools is unpopular with many conservatives, the Supreme Court ruled it a violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state.

Mr. Ryan's comments were made the same day that Mitt Romney criticized the platform adopted at the Democratic National Convention for omitting the word “God,” which had been in previous platforms.

The omission “suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of the American people,'' Mr. Romney said in an interview with Fox News. “I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don't recognize.''

Robert Gibbs, an adviser to the Obama campa ign, asked by CNN on Tuesday night if the omission was intentional, did not respond directly. “There's talk throughout the platform about faith and religion and I think that's what's important,” Mr. Gibbs said.