I don’t know what good a moment of silence will do. Most kids will be thinking of a zillion other things besides praying. There will be a few who will pray, but IF it is just a momen of silence, they’re going to be worried about that unfinished assignment or something like that. Now if it’s guided in some fashion, then that could get many people up in arms, even the JWs and Catholics.
Why not take a moment of silence (to pray or reflect or talk to the flying spaghetti monster or whatever) before school and/or after school, before bed, etc?
The whole point of all of this is to see to it that everyone is doing it. Some parents aren’t religious and might not want to our kids to do this, and why should they have to? Further, why should they be placed in a social position which places them as the odd ones out? Kids go to school to be socially nourished and to learn. This is prayer in school plain and simple.
mckenzievmd - 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.
erasmusinfinity - Further, why should they be placed in a social position which places them as the odd ones out? Kids go to school to be socially nourished and to learn.
Mriana - Most kids will be thinking of a zillion other things besides praying.
I lean more toward Mriana’s way of thinking. While actually “bringing God” into a public school is unconstitutional, this “moment of silence” is a battle I would pass on. I happen to have some distinct memories of being a seven year old in 2nd Grade and I think I could have survived being the “odd one”.
From Kindergarten through 4th Grade I went to a parochial (Roman Catholic) grade school where praying was both “legit” and mandatory. In 2nd Grade we were preparing for our First Communion. Normally we had a nun teaching class, but on this special occasion, one of the parish priests came in to explain about the sacraments and how Christ died on the cross for our sins.
I remember thinking, “I don’t get it. God sends his Son, who is really Himself, to die on a cross to make up for all of man’s sins since Adam and Eve ate an apple, and it’s good for even “my sins”. But it’s really not, because I still have to go to Confession. Why didn’t He go to Confession instead of dying on the cross? (I’m sure glad we have Confession these days!). Spartacus died on the cross (I saw the movie with Kirk Douglas). Did that help erase some sins too? I need to think this thing through.”
I also remember thinking that Pontius Pilate got a bad wrap. Seems to me he did his best to stay out of it, and now we talk about him like he hammered in the nails himself.
ON BEING FORCED TO PRAY
I was also the kid who got pulled out of the pews by the nuns in 2nd Grade for laughing during church (it was Tommy Pinter’s fault; he kept making fun of the priests and the nuns, making me laugh). I was supposed to be silently praying. They took away my recently awarded “Little Savior” pin for the offense (a reward for good behavior in the classroom; THAT really hurt because I was the last kid in my class to earn it; even Tommy got his before me). Somehow, I survived the trauma but I was probably less impressionable than most.
But that’s just me. I DID notice that the “good” girls ostracized me, but the “bad” girls didn’t (something I tucked away for use in my teenage years )
Perhaps many or most children will be thinking of things other than praying. But if nobody really cares then why is there a moment of silence? There is a point to it. The intention is for children to pray. This Illinois school system is endorsing the act of taking a moment to pray. It is being implicitly suggested that kids should do it.
But if nobody really cares then why is there a moment of silence?
Like so many things, it makes the people who implemented it feel good.
I realize there is a danger in setting a precendent for prayer, because it may become a wedge to expand it and cross the line. However, these people are “playing by the rules”, so far. If it is a “freethinking moment”, I would leave it alone. If they try to reach across the Constitutional line, smack ‘em on the knuckles and smack ‘em hard.
I would appreciate what you are saying if you were to word it a bit more along the lines of, “Yes. A morning moment of silence in the public schools is a sneaky way of pressuring children to pray, and it is horrible act of intolerance toward non-religious children and their families. However, it would be difficult to battle this in court and such action may not accomplish much in terms of overall secularism in society anyway. Why not just roll with the punches and let them have their silly little way for the sake of safe politics, despite the injustice.”
If I pushed the public schools to set a specified amount of time aside, from the school day, for yelling and screaming it would be a much tougher sell. Especially if I claimed the rationale to be for the sake of making me feel good. Why did a moment of silence make such sense to the Illinois school board? Because a moment of silence IS a moment of prayer, and that;s what certain intolerant legislators wanted. It is not nap time. It is not recess. Do you seriously doubt this?
What rules are these people playing by? Bad ones as far as I see it. Mean, nasty, and intolerant.
I will not argue that their intent was to sneak in a “moment for prayer” rather than a “moment of silence”. Still, I would not restate what I said per your suggestion. I’m not going to presume to get into their heads and say that I know what they’re thinking. Is it silly? Probably. Do I want to take up the fight every time “those people” look at me cross eyed? They aren’t worth my time.
The “rules” are to not show favoritism to any religion of non-religion. They are not preventing anyone from thinking about some pagan gods, Satan or just reflecting on an inner awe of the universe. Public schools do have the right to tell students to “be quiet”.
Perhaps you could look at it as I am suggesting to give them enough rope to hang themselves. If my child came home and said that the teacher said he/she was “not thinking properly during the moment of silence”, I’d be on ‘em like stink on doo-doo.
Likewise, if the courts change their minds (change the rule), then let the “stink” begin.
However, that’s only me. If you believe a stink should be made now, I support you in your right to question it.
[quote author=“razzledazzleinfinity”]What rules are these people playing by?
The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
I don’t see anything like that in there.
[quote author=“PaineMan”]The “rules” are to not show favoritism to any religion of non-religion.
I am guessing that you are referring to
[quote author=“Bill of Rights, Article 1”]“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
I don’t see what my point has to do with prohibiting anyone’s free exercise of religion. Religious families are more than welcome to freely exercise their religion outside of school. No one is questioning that right. Simply that they ought not be allowed to “make a law respecting an establishment of religion” in a government funded public school. We are talking secularism here, not atheism (or non-religion). Besides, wouldn’t this still be mean spirited and bigoted behavior whether it was in there or not.
[quote author=“PaineMan”]If you believe a stink should be made now, I support you in your right to question it.
The only stink that I’m making is on an online forum. Thanks for the support, but I’m really a lot more talk than I am walk.
On the other hand, if someone else were to read these words and take further action I would be quite pleased.
The U.S. Supreme Court has been vigilant in forbidding public schools and other agencies of the government to interfere with Americans’ constitutional right to follow their own consciences when it comes to religion. In 1962, the justices ruled that official prayer had no place in public education.
Also, the Supreme Court did not rule against official prayer and Bible reading in public schools out of hostility to religion. Rather, the justices held that these practices were examples of unconstitutional government interference with religion. Thus, the exercises violated the First Amendment.
So, yes, shame on them for sneaking this “moment of silence” in. My comments are directed only at the legal aspects. As long as they are not forced to actually recite anything, they can probably get away with it. At least for the time being.
I believe you about the legal aspect of the issue. I don’t know enough about law to be able to sort through all of the subsequent rulings on the issue and won’t pretend to. You seem to know more so what you are talking about, and I’m glad that we are on the same page regarding the ethics of the situation. You’ll have to pardon me for my kvetching. I guess I’m just preaching to the choir.
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.
The Constitution’s exemption of religion from the cognizance of the U. S. Government, grants, or at least, protects, the people’s right to a national government with no power over their religion. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the people’s right to state governments with no power over religion. A government recommendation or suggestion to “take a moment of silence” is, or could reasonably be understood by those to whom the suggestion is made to be, a suggestion or recommendation to pray. Thus, it is an assumption of civil authority over religion and prohibited.
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.
I second those emotions.
The most successful assaults on the rights of conscience are committed in the name of God by “Christians”.
—A Famous Baptist
[ Edited: 02 November 2007 01:06 PM by FredFlash ]