CHICAGO – Today, Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the federal U.S. District Court in Chicago ruled that a state law mandating a moment of silence in Illinois public schools is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.  He had previously put the Illinois Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act on hold while he considered the case filed by an atheist parent on behalf of his daughter.

The Illinois General Assembly had passed the law to allow students the choice to simply reflect on the day's activities or pray, and proponents argued that this did not compel religious practice.  However, the court found that the intent of the law was to encourage organized prayer in schools, and pointed to arguments made on the Assembly floor equating the moment of silence with legislative prayers.   The court also found that the law favored religions that practice silent prayer over those who do not. 

"Students remain free to pray on their own, in a non-disruptive manner, throughout the school day," ACLU lawyer Adam Schwartz said in a statement. "As Judge Gettleman recognized in his decision, public school students in Illinois do not require the permission of the General Assembly to engage in this constitutionally protected activity. "

The court  upheld the principle that students have a constitutional right to pray on their own at any time and that the government or the schools should not arbitrate when and how students pray.

 
 

14 Comments

  1. Phineas Media says:

    I agree with the ruling by Judge Gettleman. There should be a separation between church and state. Since public schools are run on federal money, the state should not mandate when and how students pray or if they should pray at all. If parents insist that their children must pray while at school, perhaps they should consider placing them in a parochial school or teach them from home.

  2. Phineas Media says:

    I agree with the ruling by Judge Gettleman. There should be a separation between church and state. Since public schools are run on federal money, the state should not mandate when and how students pray or if they should pray at all. If parents insist that their children must pray while at school, perhaps they should consider placing them in a parochial school or teach them from home.

  3. Viva says:

    I think anybody could observe a moment of silence on their own time at any time of their choosing. Nobody would know if they were praying or meditating if they just remained silent. There is no need to worry about moments of silence.

  4. Viva says:

    I think anybody could observe a moment of silence on their own time at any time of their choosing. Nobody would know if they were praying or meditating if they just remained silent. There is no need to worry about moments of silence.

  5. AAA says:

    It IS unconstitutional – as is having "In God We Trust" on our money or having people take oaths on a freaking Bible. Schools are there to teach kids facts – not beliefs. And while everyone should still have the freedom to do religious things peacefully, a kind of "group effort" with a moment of silence is discriminating, forceful, and brainwashing.

  6. AAA says:

    It IS unconstitutional – as is having "In God We Trust" on our money or having people take oaths on a freaking Bible. Schools are there to teach kids facts – not beliefs. And while everyone should still have the freedom to do religious things peacefully, a kind of "group effort" with a moment of silence is discriminating, forceful, and brainwashing.

  7. Matt says:

    There is absolutely no reason for children to sit through a moment of silence in schools. It adds no value to the educational process. The moment of silence is a way to mandate prayer in schools without actually saying that is what you are doing.

  8. Matt says:

    There is absolutely no reason for children to sit through a moment of silence in schools. It adds no value to the educational process. The moment of silence is a way to mandate prayer in schools without actually saying that is what you are doing.

  9. K2 Incense says:

    I don't see how a moment of silence could imply religion. Typically you will see a moment of silence after an accident or death and this could be used as a way of grieving.

  10. K2 Incense says:

    I don't see how a moment of silence could imply religion. Typically you will see a moment of silence after an accident or death and this could be used as a way of grieving.

  11. K2 Herb says:

    I also agree that students shouldn't even have to say the pledge of allegence let alone a moment of silent prayer. What is this country coming to?

  12. K2 Herb says:

    I also agree that students shouldn't even have to say the pledge of allegence let alone a moment of silent prayer. What is this country coming to?

 
 
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