After a long battle by David Croft and his wife Shannon Croft, Texas mandated a moment of silence in all public school classrooms today.
A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a district court ruling, saying the law is constitutional because it expressly allows for any silent use of the period, either religious or nonreligious.
The 2003 law allows children to “reflect, pray, meditate or engage in any other silent activities” for one minute at the beginning of each school day.
Of course, this ruling is absurd. Just as in Illinois, the law is a thinly veiled attempt to force prayer in public schools. This law even uses the word “pray” in it.
There’s no need to force it when all religious students are welcome to pray, anyway.
This excerpt bothered me. It’s from a high-school who supports the new law:
In the one minute wedged between the pledge to Texas and American flags and the school day, Christine Michael prays to God for safety and guidance.
“To be watched over throughout the day and the week to be protected, not just for me, but for everyone,” said Michael, an 18-year-old senior at West Brook High School and outspoken Christian (which, incidentally, is also the pronunciation of his name).
With or without the state-mandated minute of silence, Michael said he would still pray each morning, but the dedicated quiet time gives him a moment to focus.
“It’s not that I’ve been told to do that or someone has asked me to do it,” he said. “It’s just what I feel I should do.”
The provision, which took effect in September 2003, changed the way school days begin in Texas, allowing children to “reflect, pray, meditate or engage in any other silent activities” for one minute after the American and Texas pledges of allegiance have been recited.
Solicitor General James Ho argued for the state that the moment of silence fostered patriotism, provided time for contemplation and protected religious freedom.
“In an age where children are bombarded with distractions, beginning each school day with a moment of silence offers a welcome moment of quiet contemplation,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Monday.
Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement noted the lawmaker who sponsored the moment of silence bill expressed a desire to add prayer to Texas’ existing statute after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found a similar law in Virginia was constitutional.
But the judges said the law that ultimately took effect in Texas allows for any silent use of the time.
I don’t know what this means for the Illinois law — it’s currently undergoing an appeals process.
No one needs a moment of silence thrust upon them — there are already plenty of opportunities for that all the time.
You need calm to start your day? Set the alarm a minute early.
(Update: You may want to read this interesting comment by RHawk68)