I’m always astonished how whiny and insecure atheists are about “prayer in schools.” They howl and scream should anything even remotely resembling “prayer in schools” be introduced, even though church-based schools have far higher grade averages and results than public schools.
Appeals Court Upholds “Moment of Silence”
Allows the moment to continue as a pillar of the school day
By Jim Forsyth; Monday, March 16, 2009
A federal appeals court has upheld the ‘moment of silence’ which has become a fixture of the start of the school day in public schools across Texas, dealing another blow to a north Texas atheist family which has fought the ‘moment of silence’ since it was approved by the Legislature nearly a decade ago, 1200 WOAI news reports.
A panel of the Fifth US Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit filed by David Wallace and Kristine Croft of Farmers Branch, who have claimed that the ‘moment of silence’ is in fact a backdoor way to introduce prayer into the public schools.
“No court has ever accepted…that a ‘moment of silence’ challenge is “excessive government entanglement with religion,” the justices said. “There is no excessive entanglement, and the primary affect of the Amendment is not to advance religion. This is not an unconstitutional advancement of religion.”
The Crofts had claimed that when State Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) rewrote the ‘moment of silence’ law in 2003, to specifically say that the moment is to give students the opportunity to ’pray reflect or meditate,’ Wentworth admitted that the moment is in fact an attempt to place prayer illegally into public schools.
“The United States Constitution plainly protects a young person’s right to observe a moment of silence before school each morning,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s office successfully argued the case before the appeals court. “In an age where children are bombarded by distractions, beginning each school day with a moment of silence offers a welcome moment of quiet contemplation.”
The ‘moment of silence’ has now been upheld by the state and several federal courts. The Crofts could now ask for what is called an ‘en banc’ hearing, and ask the entire Fifth Court of Appeals to consider the case.
“Senate Bill 83 (the moment of silence law) plainly serves secular rather than religious purposes,” Abbott said. “The purpose of these exercises is plain…to foster patriotism and provide an opportunity for students to engage in quiet contemplation.”
The Houston Chronicle had some interesting observations; including the one that implies this case may now determine the fate of a similar case now pending in the people’s Republic of Illinois:
Cook said that Judge Lynn . . . agreed that the law did have a secular purpose of encouraging quiet contemplation.
Lynn called her ruling a “difficult and close question” because of divergent statements by lawmakers at committee hearings and during floor debate in the Senate and House.
In her opinion, Lynn said “there is no doubt” several legislators, including the bill’s author, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, expressed a purpose to “put prayer back in schools.” But debate also focused on other ways students could spend the 60 seconds.
“Legislators repeatedly emphasized that students could stare at their shoes, think about upcoming exams, think about their pets, engage in other nonverbal activities during the moment of silence, as well as pray, if they wished,” Lynn said.
Earlier this year, a federal district judge in Illinois issued a temporary injunction banning a similar law from being observed in that state. A trial is pending.
And as anybody who’s watched more than 2 or 3 episodes of “Law And Order” knows; this case is now a federal precedent; and federal precedents transfer to other states. Bonus!
You’re Welcome, Illinois.