U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman has struck down the Illinois Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act as unconstitutional. The decision is based on the Doctrine of Separation of Church and State and constitutes a departure from other rulings around the nation upholding such laws. It is a particularly important ruling for non-believers.
Judge Gettleman ruled that: “The statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion.” The lawsuit was filed by talk show host Rob Sherman, an atheist, and his daughter, Dawn, a high school student.
The court took special note of the fact that the “teacher is required to instruct her pupils, especially in the lower grades, about prayer and its meaning as well as the limitations on their ‘reflection . . . The plain language of the statute, therefore, suggests and intent to force the introduction of the concept of prayer into the schools.”
IN 2008, U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn in Texas threw out a challenge to a 2003 Texas law that allows children to “reflect, pray, meditate or engage in any other silent activities” for one minute at the start of each school day.
For the opinion, click here.
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