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I for one support these moments of silence in schools. Our society has become not only more secular but so constantly on the go and addicted to input-now-now-now that I think it's important to bring back the idea of personal time. The moment of silence gives those children who are religiously inclined the time and quiet they need to pray. It gives those who aren't religiously inclined time and quiet to be alone with their thoughts. Hopefully it'll foster more self-awareness in all children.

I agree with you, Dave. I live in Illinois, and I think this law is ridiculous. They try to give it a secular purpose (reflecting on the coming day), but how stupid do they think we are? We all know it's an attempt to legislate prayer into the schools.

The Protestants are just bitter they don't have a monopoly on society anymore. That's all.

I guess there is a shortage of pressing issues for the Illinois legislature to deal with. It must be nice.

While I sympathize with PDoE, I have to think that having a law that mandates either meditation or prayer is really pointless, and probably does violate church and state barriers. If kids want to pray in school, let them do it in recess, away from others. I remember giving silent prayers in school at test time, but I didn't need a moment of silence to do it.

This is an interesting topic for me. When I was in grad school I took a Church adn State class. My professor was quite liberal and made a point to dismiss my comments in class because he already knew the "Mormon" answer. He never gave me more than a "C" on an assignment. For our final I was asked to write an opinion on school prayer. When I came out against the idea, he seemed pleasantly surprised, gave me an "A" on my paper and commented on how I really must have learned something from him that year. I responded that, in my opinion, most people who wanted school prayer would not accept a prayer from a Mormon. That the main motive was evangelization, and that, to be fair to all faiths it would be better to have a moment of silence, if anything.

It made me think, however, that most members outside of Utah tend to be against the idea of legislating prayer in schools, but I am unsure of the argument in the state.

I am for a moment of silence, just because kids need to learn to sit in quiet, and why not practice at school. Ever sit in a testimony meeting where nobody speaks - most people find it unbearable - I relish the quiet moments.

I have to agree with you, Dave.

And when I was in school, I took my moments of silence when I needed it (like right before a test for example), not when the school felt I should take it.

I'm not for school prayer/silence either, but it might be interesting and "fair" to all concerned if the school would rotate to each student in the class. Each one could either have a moment of silence or offer their own prayer. If you had a diverse student body (Islam, Hindu, American Indian, Evangelical, even Mormon) it might produce some tolerance and understanding. I really don't suggest it and it will never happen, but just a thought.

Don, you're right it would be interesting but also very messy. In the 19th century, "religious pluralism" meant the wide range of Protestant denominations one found in America. Now, the scope of that pluralism reaches across not just other Christian conceptions (Catholic, Orthodox, Mormon) but also other world religions (Islam, Buddhist, Hindu, even Pagans). It certainly makes any attempt to be "fair" to everyone (which is what a school would have to do) much more challenging.

The thing I regret about school prayer is the underlying message everyone seems to have gotten from it, namely that I SHOULD be offended at the expression of another's religious beliefs. Doesn't this just reinforce the prejudices, dislikes, and misunderstandings we all have of one another. I think Harry Reid had the right idea, but we all saw how the Evangelicals felt about that. So, while not having prayer in school does seems a practical necessity, I totally see why people are uneasy about it.

In essence we have given the government the right to rule religious expression out of bounds, against the spirit of both the freedom of expression and freedom of religion all somehow in the name of freedom of religion. I think it has increased animosity between religions and increased tensions.

This is the crux of the argument for school prayer, however, I am cognizant of the fact that we are talking about children here. I just hope this point of view sheds a little light on why people get upset.

I remember that we had a moment of silence each day after the Pledge of Allegiance when I was in 5th grade. I was a thoroughly religious and pious child, but it never occurred to me that we were supposed to pray during that time. We all just sat around and looked at each other. My experience is probably not unique.

FYI, here's a follow-up post about an Illinois teacher who plans to challenge the new law in court.

I say learn everywhere (not just in school) and pray everywhere (not just at home or church.) Public school should be banished. Legislating moments of silence is retarded, like everything else the government does.

I suspect that the desire for prayer in schools goes back to the colonial period when there were government religions in the towns. I grew up 60 years ago in a small Mormon town in Southern Utah, and we had no prayer in schools. Prayer was for the home and church. Schools were for learning.

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