Mandatory Moment of Silence Gutted

A few months ago, the Illinois legislature had passed a law requiring public schools to observe a moment of silence in the classroom.

The law was called the “Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act.”

Atheists Rob Sherman and his daughter Dawn Sherman filed a lawsuit against the bill leading to an injunction.

We’ve been in limbo regarding the law until now…

But there’s finally some good news to report!

A new version of the law — stripped of the “prayer” reference and making the moment of silence optional for educators — was voted on in the Illinois House today.

Here’s the revised version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago):

1        AN ACT concerning education.

2        Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3   represented in the General Assembly:

4        Section 5. The Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act is
5   amended by changing Sections 0.01 and 1 as follows:

6        (105 ILCS 20/0.01) (from Ch. 122, par. 770)
7        Sec. 0.01. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
8   Student Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act.
9   (Source: P.A. 92-832, eff. 1-1-03.)

10        (105 ILCS 20/1) (from Ch. 122, par. 771)
11        Sec. 1. In each public school classroom, the teacher in
12   charge may conduct shall observe a brief period of silence with
13   the participation of all the pupils therein assembled at the
14   opening of every school day. This period shall not be conducted
15   as a religious exercise but shall be an opportunity for silent
16   prayer or for such silent reflection as may be desired by each
17   individual pupil on the anticipated activities of the day.
18   (Source: P.A. 95-680, eff. 10-11-07.)

19        Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
20   becoming law.

Much better, I say.

This version of the bill passed (PDF) in the Illinois House: 72-31 (6 voted “Present”).

That is some welcome news for those of us who saw this mandatory moment of silence as a waste of time and a manipulative way to force religion into the classroom.

The bill now goes to the Illinois Senate. It won’t have an easy path there, but the new version should pass regardless.


[tags]atheist, atheism, HB 4180[/tags]

  • Siamang

    Let’s bow our heads in a moment of silent contemplation of this victory.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    Excellent!

    I don’t see much non-insidious use for this law anyways, but still, this is a victory.

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    The whole thing seems silly. I wish as much effort could be put into education initiatives, but you don’t get noticed for doing what is expected, you get noticed for responding to the spiritual needs of students, because, really, this moment of silence, is really all they need in their busy lives to feel truly whole and at peace with the world. This may be a good intention gone wrong, but I wish things like, oh, paying teachers more, or reducing class sizes were more valuable politically then student prayer.

  • Lainey

    What an incredible waste of time and money. The fact that law was even considered and brought before the state legislation is ludicrous and a horrid waste of resources.

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad

    Please government, we need your permission to think and reflect silently. Please, we are dying in here!

    I still don’t see the point of even this revised bill, other than to placate nuts. It’s not like teachers needed a special directive allowing them to tell kids to shut up if they are noisy. And its certainly not like pupils who desire silent reflection need the governments’ help in conducting some.

  • http://supercheetah.livejournal.com Rene Horn

    Wow, what a now completely useless act.

    Let’s make a law that says that someone can walk naked in their house if they wanted, and don’t have to if they don’t. Seriously, that’s pretty much all it says now, except for the naked part.

    Of course it would be better if the entire act was just repealed. The connotations of the entire thing are still offensive in my mind.

  • http://supercheetah.livejournal.com Rene Horn

    Let’s make a law that says that someone can walk naked in their house if they wanted, and don’t have to if they don’t.

    Uhh, sorry, that didn’t make sense.

    I meant to say, “Let’s make a law that says someone can walk naked in their house if they wanted to, and not walk naked if they didn’t want to,” or something like that.

    I’m not sure why I’m thinking about naked stuff right now.

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » It’s Dangerous for Children To Know Atheism Exists, Says Illinois State Legislator


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