Dad Fights Against Moment of Silence

A long article about a Texas father fighting to remove the moment of silence appeared Monday night in the Dallas Morning News.

[David Wallace Croft's] largest fight to date is set to play out in federal district court in Dallas today. He and his wife, Shannon, are suing Gov. Rick Perry and the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district, arguing that the state’s minute of silence, in effect since 2003, is unconstitutional and amounts to state-sanctioned school prayer.

It’s an uphill battle. Moment-of-silence legislation is usually carefully worded to include prayer, reflection, or anything else you want… you’re not forced to pray (which would be illegal).

California atheist Michael Newdow, who challenged the Pledge of Allegiance in schools because of the “under God” reference, said he thinks the Texas law is unconstitutional. But he doesn’t think Mr. Croft stands a chance in the current political climate.

“Why don’t they say minute of silence and doing arithmetic or helping the poor?” he said. “The government is giving hints, ‘Hey, this is something you should do.’ I think it’s wrong. But I also think it’s not a case you can win.”

I’ve never been a fan of the silence… but I’m not sure Croft has a chance, either. It’s not just because of the political climate, though. The law simply doesn’t require you to pray.

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, said the Virginia case motivated him to propose a law with the same wording.

“There has been like a burr under the saddle of a lot of Texans since the Supreme Court said you couldn’t pray audibly in schools,” he said, referring to a 1962 ruling.

Because as we all know, God only listens to audible prayers. In fact, you should really scream all your prayers at the top of your lungs just to be safe.

In an interview last year, [Croft] said he lost faith in Christianity, what he calls the “supernatural,” after reading 1984 in high school.

“I don’t want my children exposed to people teaching them that the supernatural is real,” he said.

Fair enough. 1984 was the culprit? That’s a new one for me.

He has tried unsuccessfully to start online groups relating to atheism. One was called the Cryobaptist Church, which he defined as having “a postmortem baptism in liquid nitrogen,” and linked to his belief in “universal immortalism.”

Ummm…. huh?

Croft’s dad was quoted as well, supporting his son on his fight, but adding one other thing:

Joseph Croft of Abilene said he supports his son’s stance on the law and the separation of church and state.

“It’s a waste of valuable classroom time,” Mr. Croft said of the state’s moment of silence. “I don’t share his beliefs, though. I definitely personally believe in the power of prayer and of Jesus Christ.”

The rest of the article doesn’t put Croft (the son) in a very positive light. Some of his fights seem valid. Some don’t. If the school offers all religious (and non-religious) groups a chance to meet at the school, there shouldn’t be a problem. If flyers are sent home about all those clubs, no problem. If a holiday concert features both religious and non-religious songs, from several cultural backgrounds, no problem.

If there are special exceptions being made to Christians, then there’s a problem.

The moment-of-silence doesn’t look to be an example of a special exception.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Texas, Dallas Morning News, David Wallace Croft, Rick Perry, Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district, Moment-of-silence, Michael Newdow, Pledge of Allegiance, God, Jeff Wentworth, Christian, 1984, Cryobaptist Church, Joseph Croft, Jesus Christ[/tags]

  • Aimee

    My husband grew up in a small bible belt town in Texas where football is everything. He was in football, and before every game, the players all had to take a knee while the coach led them in prayer. They also had the moment of silence before the game which the fans participated in. This was a public school.

  • Maria

    If there are special exceptions being made to Christians, then there’s a problem.

    The moment-of-silence doesn’t look to be an example of a special exception.

    I agree. I don’t tend to have a problem with it b/c you are not required to pray. It’s just a minute. You can read a book or take a minute nap :) I was somewhere where they had that once, and I didn’t feel like praying (when I was religous). So I daydreamed for a minute, and it was no big deal.

  • Aj

    Lets have a moment of silence to pray… or reflect, or whatever… Let people “reflect” in their own time, they don’t have to “reflect” together. Maybe people don’t want to “reflect”.

    Think about the motivations for this “moment of silence”. If it was a “moment of silence” for reflection, would it be state policy? Is it really something that the state would spend any time on?

  • TXatheist

    It’s a minute wasted and considering Texas is # 50 in education I think we need to use that minute more wisely.

  • vincent

    I think a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day is a good thing. I’d even suggest one after lunch.
    Not for prayer, but just to calm the students and focus them again on the task at hand: learning.

  • Richard Wade

    Looks like Croft doesn’t have a prayer.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I think the moment of silence stuff is just silly tokenism… but at the same time, if it gets the “put prayer back in the public schools” crowd to shut up, I say fine. People like Croft need to learn to pick their battles.

  • Polly

    Texas is # 50 in education I think we need to use that minute more wisely.

    The kids are FAT too. Maybe that minute should be spent silently exercising.

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  • klnxmonkey

    I’m in a class at my university that starts each class with a moment of silence. I think it is great! It is not religiously associated (quite the opposite in fact). It simply gives everyone a chance to collect their thoughts so we can have a strong, focused class together.

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