The usually-conservative, Republican-leaning, “we haven’t endorsed a Democrat for President Since 1872″ Chicago Tribune is supporting the blocking of the mandatory moment of silence law in Illinois, also known as The Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act.
From today’s editorial page:
Schools have always been free to ask students to pause and contemplate the day ahead, but they weren’t required to. By making it mandatory, the [Illinois] legislature has created a burden on teachers, a potential source of conflict between families and schools and an open invitation to lawsuits from all directions.
It would be better for everyone if lawmakers would simply pause for a moment of silent reflection — or, if they prefer, prayer — and then dump this bad law.
Rob Sherman, the atheist who brought this lawsuit on behalf of his daughter, made this statement:
What this lawsuit is all about is restoring a proper balance between the rights of children who wish to pray and those who do not wish to pray. Before this law was passed, children who wished to pray could do so any time that they wanted, including during class, and those who wished to not pray could receive an education during instructional time paid for by the taxpayers. The School Prayer Law preserves the rights of children to pray, but for children who do not wish to pray, this law cancels their right to receive an education during part of their instructional time. I am seeking to restore the rights of children who don’t pray to be educated during class time while preserving the right of children who do pray to pray any time they want.
The trend is moving in our direction. The judge seemed to indicate, today, that this law doesn’t have a prayer…
If you’d like to read Judge Robert Gettleman’s decision, you can do so here (PDF).