My understanding is that you cannot have teachers, parents or students lead prayers. You can’t force people to say things regarding faith or religion that may not be in their (or their parents) belief system.
As long as they are not told what they have to contemplate during the “moment”, there’s probably nothing unconstitutional about it. It is also legal to silently say a prayer before, say, a math test. The constitution does not interfere with what goes on in one’s mind.
There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding prayer and public schools (and I don’t claim to fully understand it). For example, I understand that students can form groups to discuss religion outside of regular class hours, and they can even start their meetings with a prayer, as long as it is student only, and ALL students are eligible to join. If it is for “Christians only”, THAT’s a no-no.
It is a scheduled time taken out of the school day that does not involve school curriculum, that all students are being required to take part in. I have a very hard time believing that this moment of silence is intended for anything other than prayer. It surely establishes a situation in which kids who don’t have anything to “reflect upon” are on the outside, set up for stigmatization.
It’s what I thought: Wallace vs. Jaffrey (1985) Supreme Court struck down an Alabama statute that mandated a one-minute moment of silence at the beginning of the school day, because it served no secular purpose, and appeared to be a promotion of religion.
Unfortunately, things are not quite so simple. See for instance HERE:
However, states subsequently crafted laws that did survive constitutional review. One example is Virginia’s minute of silence law, which requires children to begin the school day with a minute to “meditate, pray or engage in silent activity.” In July 2001, a panel of the 4th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the law, noting that it ” introduced at most a minor and nonintrusive accommodation of religion” and, because it allowed any type of silent reflection, served both religious and secular interests. The U. S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in the case, thus upholding Virginia’s law. Legal observers predicted the law’s success would lead to more such legislation in other states; as many as 18 states already permit moments of silence under law.
And let’s not forget that kids are by nature a lot easier to coerce even than adults. To tell a 7 year old to sit quietly and “reflect” while everyone around them prays and then expect them not to feel pressured or ostracized is ridiculous. Hell it’s hard enough for most kids not to desparately want the exact same shoes as all their friends are wearing!
To tell a 7 year old to sit quietly and “reflect” while everyone around them prays and then expect them not to feel pressured or ostracized is ridiculous
I’m not so sure. At that age, I would have used the time to improve upon my excuse as to why I didn’t have my homework done, regardless what the others were thinking about. But I have always been a little “different”.
How would you guys feel about teaching TM to kids? A lot of me just says, “Good luck,” but then again I don’t know of any place in the states that has really tried it regularly. Moment of silence reminded me of this, although a minute, or however long, isn’t really that long to meditate.