Sen. Mark Hatfield (R) of Oregon said he is gathering support for permitting Bible studies and prayer groups in classrooms during off-hours as an alternative to controversial school-prayer legislation.
Senator Hatfield was supported by 22 other senators in arguing his proposal before the Supreme Court. Among his backers was Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina. Mr. Hatfield said he hopes to get even broader support when he reintroduces his proposal as a bill in the new Congress. The Supreme Court ruled in a University of Missouri case in 1981 that students could meet for religious purposes on public-university campuses, Senator Hatfield said.