IL School Moment of Silence Law Struck Down

"A federal judge Wednesday overturned a state law requiring students to observe a moment of silence at the start of each day, ruling it amounted to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion aimed at introducing prayer in public schools.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman makes permanent a ban he put in place in May after a legal challenge by Dawn Sherman, a student at Buffalo Grove High School, and her atheist activist father, Rob Sherman.

“This has just brought closure for everyone, for all the districts in the state of Illinois,” said Venetia Miles, spokeswoman for Township High School District 214, based in Arlington Heights.

Schools struggled with the law, which stated that the time should be used as “an opportunity for silent prayer or reflection on the anticipated activities.” Districts were left to interpret how long a moment was and when to pause during a morning routine of announcements and the Pledge of Allegiance.",0,5456973.story


Our ambitious attorney general said she would appeal. I’m not sure about this law so I’d like to read the judge’s opinion.

WOW, they were forcing students to do that? JUST WOW

If kids want to pray, go ahead and let them, I can assure you most teachers won’t stop em(atleast not in Ohio) but to force this upon people? it makes my blood boil

What is wrong with telling the students to shut up for a minute?

They are taught to reflect on things most of the day. What about at the beginning of the day? It never said that they MUST pray during that minute.

Maybe the teens should be taught to read and think before reacting.

C’mon, clearly this “moment of silence” was a back door attempt to introduce religion into the schools. If students want to pray before classes, they can organize that prayer themselves.

How is that?

What religion requires a moment of silence at the beginning of school?

This ruling is a result by paranoid atheists, where even “silence” is the same as “prayer” in their eyes.

If a mandatory moment of silence is unconstitutional, then study hall is unconstitutional, as it is supposed to be silent there. And so are libraries, as silence is required there. And exams are unconstitutional, as you’re required to be silent during exams. Oh, and the Miranda ruling is unconstitutional as well “You have the right to remain silent” :slight_smile:

AP’s article regarding the subject:

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a state law requiring a moment of silence in public schools across Illinois is unconstitutional, saying it crosses the line separating church and state.

“The statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion,” U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman said in his ruling Wednesday.

The ruling came in a lawsuit designed to bar schools from enforcing the Illinois Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act. It was filed by talk show host Rob Sherman, an outspoken atheist, and his daughter, Dawn, a high school student.

Gettleman’s ruling was not a surprise. He had already ruled in favor of Sherman in two previous decisions.

As passed by the Illinois General Assembly, the law allows students to reflect on the day’s activities rather than pray if that is their choice and defenders have said it therefore doesn’t force religion on anyone.

But Gettleman backed critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union, who say the law is a thinly disguised effort to bring religion into the schools.

The “teacher is required to instruct her pupils, especially in the lower grades, about prayer and its meaning as well as the limitations on their ‘reflection,’” Gettleman ruled.

“The plain language of the statute, therefore, suggests and intent to force the introduction of the concept of prayer into the schools,” he said.

It remained unclear if Gettleman’s decision would end the dispute or merely signal a fresh battle in a federal appeals court.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago, the chief sponsor of the legislation, said she hoped Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan would appeal.

“I strongly feel and I still believe that children should have a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day,” she said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where she celebrated the inauguration of President Obama.

Madigan spokeswoman Robin Ziegler said the attorney general was reviewing Gettleman’s decision and would have no immediate further comment.

Adam Schwartz, senior staff counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the organization was pleased with the decision “to strike down a statewide law that coerced children to pray as part of an organized activity in our public schools.”

Last year, a federal court threw out a challenge to a 2003 Texas law that allows children to “reflect, pray, meditate or engage in any other silent activities” for one minute at the beginning of each school day.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn upheld the constitutionality of that law, concluding that “the primary effect of the statute is to institute a moment of silence, not to advance or inhibit religion.”

I’m confused. The idea of observing a moment of silence makes your blood boil? Why? You could recite “Jabberwocky” in your head. Or, perhaps the first hundred digits of Pi. You could reflect on your interactions with a loved one that morning and whether they were pleasant, happy, unpleasant, warm, tense. Or, maybe you could pray, if you chose to do so. But, bottom line, it would be your decision what to think about and what to do with your moment. Why would the idea of observing a moment of silence make you angry?


Anyway, the judge ruled it unconstitutional in Illinois, so no need for further anger unless something similar is going on in Ohio. If so, maybe you could find something you want to think about during your moment of silence each morning.

If I were a public school teacher, I wouldn’t want to be *forced *to interrupt the school day with a moment of silence. I do not believe this is the sort of thing teachers should force on their students. If students want to pray, they may do so if they want to, and they don’t have other things they should be doing.

I’m a sub in a public school and it is not an interruption. It is a part of the normal routine. Over here the kids are not allowed in the classroom until the start of school. In other words they are not allowed in the classroom without the teacher being there. For example, in the elementary the kids all go to the gym when they get to school. When school officially starts they have what’s called Rise-N-Shine. We start off with the Pledge of Allegiance, then we salute the flag of the State of Oklahoma. In the elementary the kids then listen to a patriotic song, not in the other buildings. After that is a moment of silence, then the school creed and any announcements for the day.

This is a normal part of the day for the kids and not doing it actually is what interrupts the day or at least the morning.

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