Talk of the Town

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Morehouse students support prayer in schools, race debate ensues

On Monday, students from Morehouse College rallied outside the state capitol in support of House Bill 816 which would provide for the return of prayer in schools among other things. By evening, their efforts had spawned an online debate about race and religion.

This week has become "Religious Liberty" week in Georgia with a number of related bills under consideration at the legislature. 

In addition, today is Georgia Religious Freedom Day at the Capitol with a noon rally at Liberty Plaza.

READ MORE: "Religious liberty" bills gain momentum in Georgia

As written, House Bill 816 or the "Georgia Student Religious Liberties Act of 2016" would "provide for voluntary student expression of religious viewpoints in public schools" and "provide that local school systems shall provide students with the freedom to organize religious groups and activities."

Another bill, House Bill 870, would let students express their religious beliefs on school uniforms.

House Bill 816 was introduced by Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain and has bi-partisan support, which means it has a chance of passing on the floor today, though representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union have expressed concerns.

The students from Morehouse joined faith leaders on the steps of the Capitol Monday, holding up signs to show their support, in a crowd that was predominantly African-American.

It didn't take long for reactions to hit a message board under a thread titled, "Well just dam, look at what these blacks want... "

An interesting debate ensued with readers weighing in as follows:

"Blacks and Women are alot alike,,,,,,,,,,,they never know what they want,,,,,,,and don't ever make the mistake of trying to help them figure it out," wrote one reader.

Which led another reader to fire back "Can anyone explain what their race has to do with being Christians? Are only black people Christians?"

Things really devolved from there, but seemed to wrap on a positive note with this post Wednesday morning:

"feelinit I know what you are saying and I agree we are all racially biased to some degree.I think that comes from being more comfortable with what we know.Not from hatred of another race."

Need help decoding the the happenings during this legislative session? Visit the AJC Legislative Navigator to track legislation and lawmakers at the Gold Dome .

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.