Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Court Allows Ill. Moment of Silence

Excerpted from The Associated Press.

CHICAGO (AP) -- A federal judge refused Monday to temporarily bar schools from observing a brief period of prayer or reflective silence for students, but he allowed a lawsuit contesting the practice to move forward.

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman told talk-radio host Rob Sherman, who filed the suit, and attorneys for school District 214 and the state to come back to court on Nov. 14 to explore the issue further.

Sherman's 14-year-old daughter, Dawn, is a student in the district at Buffalo Grove High School. She and her father maintain that the new law is just another round in the long-running battle over prayer in school and as such violates the U.S. Constitution.

"The whole purpose of this law is to get religion into the public schools," Rob Sherman told reporters as he left the courthouse.

The Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act already had allowed Illinois schools to have a moment of silence at the start of every school day if they wished to do so. Legislators, overriding a veto by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's veto this month, voted to make the observances mandatory.

School district representatives told the judge that they would enforce the law in neutral fashion with a 15-second moment of silence that made no reference to religion.

Sherman is an outspoken atheist who has gone to court before in an effort to get religious symbols out of the public sphere.

Quick refresher course... Here's what the U.S. Constitution actually says regarding religion and state.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The Constitution prohibits Congress from making laws respecting an establishment of religion [and] prohibiting the free exercise thereof. To not allow a moment of silence would prohibit the free exercise of one's own religion. Maybe atheists don't believe in silence either.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

We linked to your blog at vocalo.org (a new radio station that takes content submitted by its users) I'd love for you to come over and comment more on the issue.