When the now-mandatory “moment of silence and prayer” happened in my classroom yesterday, I heard a lot of different responses from students:
- Why are we doing this…? [Because most Illinois politicians are idiots.]
- I thought forced prayer was illegal in public schools. [Yes. Yes it is...]
- Mehta, can we just ignore this like we do all the other announcements? [Of course not. You must listen to them every day like the perfect little angels you are.]
Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn points out that for all the shit Rod Blagojevich did, at least he got this one right when he vetoed the bill a few years back:
“The law in Illinois today already allows teachers and students the opportunity to take a moment for silent thought or prayer, if they choose to,” he said in vetoing the bill. “I believe this is the right balance between the principles echoed in our constitution, and our deeply held desire to practice our faith.”
Rob Sherman, the local atheist who (with his daughter) put a stop to the Moment of Silence a few years ago — only to have the injunction lifted now — is ready to pounce back into action. And he’s bringing some help:
America’s two top atheists, Mike Newdow and Rob Sherman, are joining forces to appeal to the US Supreme Court last year’s widely mocked decision by the Seventh Circuit US Court of Appeals that the Illinois Student Prayer Act is supposedly constitutional. Newdow and I have challenged more violations of atheist constitutional rights than anybody else in the history of the nation.
Newdow will be the lead attorney on our Supreme Court appeal of the Appellate Court decision regarding the obviously unconstitutional Illinois "Moment of Silence" law. That decision reversed Judge Gettleman’s decision from the local federal District Court that recognized that the Student Prayer Act is, indeed, unconstitutional.
Rob Sherman: A man who never lacks for self-esteem
But still, yes, good, this is what needs to happen. File the lawsuit and get this “silent prayer” act out of the public schools. I applaud the move. I only wish more people could get involved in the suit.
If Illinois legislators want teachers to waste “moments” of our students’ time, I promise we can find better ways to do it than spending it in silence.