Court Rules That a Moment of Silence is Unconstitutional
According to this article a federal judge has ruled that it is unconstitutional for a state to require a moment of silence in public schools. The judge ruled that this is a violation of church and state.
The statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion,” U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman said in his ruling Wednesday.
The argument that was used is that by having a moment of silence you are tricking children into praying. The law gives the children permission to think about whatever they want during the silence, like they wouldn’t anyway, and therefor proponents of the measure claimed that no religion was being forced on the students.
As passed by the Illinois General Assembly, the law allows students to reflect on the day’s activities rather than pray if that is their choice and defenders have said it therefore doesn’t force religion on anyone.
For the sake of argument let’s just say that the children were praying during this moment of silence. Does this constitute a violation of the freedom of religion?
Before we make that determination we must look at what the first amendment says about the freedom of religion; Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
According to the first part of the freedom of religion clause congress can make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Does a moment of silence violate this clause? The answer is no. The state isn’t telling the children which God they must pray to or even if they must pray. There is no violation here.
If anything the judge is in violation of the second part of the freedom of religion clause by prohibiting a child the free exercise of the child’s religion.
As for the violation of the constitution’s separation of church and state clause…..there is no clause or phrase in the constitution about the separation of church and state.
The term separation of church and state does not appear in the constitution, it appeared in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists in 1802.
It wasn’t until Everson v. Board of Education in 1947 that the separation of church and state was actually used in a supreme court case. Writing for the majority in a 5-4 decision ,Hugo Black in interpreting the constitution found what he considered his justification for his interpretation of the constitution by looking outside the constitution. He used Thomas Jefferson’s personal letter to the Danbury Baptists to justify his interpretation of the constitution instead of interpreting the constitution.
The fact is that a moment of silence before school starts is harmless, there is no nefarious plot to secretly indoctrinate the children into religion. A moment of silence before the school day starts does not represent a government sponsored religion.
These people need to lighten the hell up.