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  #1  
Old 04-04-2010, 07:02 PM
dalej42 dalej42 is offline
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Do any public schools still have prayer?

I went to public high school from 1983-1987. The school had the moment of silent meditation after the announcements were read. Our band director led a Christian prayer every day.

Does any public school in the United States still have any sort of prayer?
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  #2  
Old 04-04-2010, 07:09 PM
Booker57 Booker57 is offline
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Two words. Finals Week.
Group prayer? I don't think so, but the Earths crust was still warm when I graduated. Class of 1975.

Last edited by Booker57; 04-04-2010 at 07:11 PM.. Reason: Grammer
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Old 04-04-2010, 07:18 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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To my knowledge, none do officially, but many public schools allow student prayer groups that meet before or after the official school day. The shooter at Heath High School in Kentucky targeted a prayer group, although that may have just been the first bunch of students he encountered.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:00 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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There is a meme (and I'm trying to keep this GQ, not GD in content) which seems to have been disseminated by the Religious Right to the effect that it is illegal for anyone to pray in public schools. That would itself be a violation of the Free Exercise clause.

What is illegal, and has been since Engel v. Vitale was handed down in 1962, is for a teacher, principal, superintendent, or school board to (a) mandate a standard prayer, (b) require prayer, (c) put students in situations where they would feel coerced into praying. These are considered violations of the Establishment Clause.

That said, many school boards, etc., don't seem to be getting the message.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:45 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/3756 In Dearborn we have a large contingent of Muslims. They pray a lot(5 times a day). If we allow Christians to pray in school, how about Muslims. What about other religions. The answer is easy, no prayer in public schools. No exceptions. Otherwise you open a can of worms that may go where you do not want to go.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:51 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Originally Posted by gonzomax View Post
http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/3756 In Dearborn we have a large contingent of Muslims. They pray a lot(5 times a day). If we allow Christians to pray in school, how about Muslims. What about other religions. The answer is easy, no prayer in public schools. No exceptions. Otherwise you open a can of worms that may go where you do not want to go.
This is GQ. At the risk of going towards GD, are you saying that the First Amendment ends at the schoolhouse door? (Note that I'm speaking of completely voluntary [in the literal meaning of the word] prayer, with no coercion, no role model or peer pressure, not the sorts of things that people have caused to masquerade as "voluntary" in various court cases.)
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Old 04-04-2010, 09:21 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzomax View Post
http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/3756 In Dearborn we have a large contingent of Muslims. They pray a lot(5 times a day). If we allow Christians to pray in school, how about Muslims. What about other religions. The answer is easy, no prayer in public schools. No exceptions. Otherwise you open a can of worms that may go where you do not want to go.
The ACLU has defended several students who were disciplined for engaging in Christian prayer against the wishes of confused school authorities. There is no reason to prevent a student from praying to Jesus, Allah, Ha Shem, or Mana-Yood-Sashai on their own time in any school.

The issue in the OP is whether there are still school districts in which prayers are led by members of the administration or faculty.
The General Question answer is that there almost certainly are, although they tend to be in smaller districts in rural areas where the community tends to support such actions in despite of the law. Such districts only come to public attention when a student or parent protests, publicly. It is probably unlikely that we can get a reasonable count of how frequently this occurs.
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Old 04-04-2010, 09:22 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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gonzomax, if you would like to argue about whether some students should be permitted to pray on their own in schools, please open a separate thread in Great Debates.

[ /Modding ]
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:30 AM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is online now
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The OP seems to suggest that all public schools formerly had Official Daily Prayers.

I graduated high school in 1966. In First Grade, we began the day with the Pledge of Allegiance & "My Country 'tis of Thee." There was no prayer or "moment of silence." This was in a semi-rural Texas district. As the years went by, the Pledge & the song got dropped. There might be a prayer at special events; usually the Our Father--done in the Protestant fashion. But most of my school days were quite Prayer Free.
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Old 04-05-2010, 10:46 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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The group Americans United for Separation of Church and State battles teachers, principals, schools, and school boards that want to sneak official prayers in. They have a zillion lawsuits active at any given time.

Most schools have gotten the message that you can't do a daily prayer, but they'll start an assembly that way or a football game or post something religious. You sometimes wish they would give as much thought and creativity to the lesson plans.
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Old 04-05-2010, 10:57 AM
joebuck20 joebuck20 is offline
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I attended public schools through the mid-90s. There was one time in sixth grade we went on a camping field trip and at dinner one of the teachers led a prayer. I don't remember it being made a big deal of. But other than, I can't remember the student body being encouraged to pray.
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:15 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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As a former teacher, and former school board member in NJ I can tell you that the rule now is that anyone in school can pray any time they want to -- as long as they don't disrupt the educational process, and as long as they don't coerce or try to coerce anyone else into doing so. Jane can bow her head and say grace at lunchtime, but she can't insist that anybody else do so. Nor can the teacher direct that they must.

Personally, the "invocation" at non-classroom events does not offend me although I am a definite non-believer. All that's needed is to stand or sit quietly until whoever is speaking is done.

In my youth (when dinosaurs ruled the earth) we definitely had "morning exercises" which included a patriotic song, the salute to the flag, a saying of the Lord's Prayer (Catholics were free to leave off the last phrases) and a reading of a set number of verses -- I think five -- from the Old Testament. Presumably that last was in order to not offend any Jewish children. Not that we knew of any. One student was selected each day to have a turn choosing and reading the Bible verses, but the choice had to be approved by the teacher, as some of us had found the Song of Solomon.

ETA: I don't know why we still did the Lord's Prayer even though the theoretical existence of Jewish people was recognized. Is it possible that since the prayer simply refers to "Our father in heaven" and not specifically to Jesus, that Jews would not mind being asked to recite it?

Personally, I like the attitude of the Presbyterian minister in the church we went to at the time of the court decision that said schools should not require prayer. "That's fine with us, " he said. "We'll take care of the prayer, thanks. I won't teach algebra and you don't teach religion."

Last edited by MLS; 04-05-2010 at 12:19 PM..
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:04 PM
vivalostwages vivalostwages is offline
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What's to stop anyone from offering up a silent, discreet prayer to anyone they want, any time they wish to do so?
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by vivalostwages View Post
What's to stop anyone from offering up a silent, discreet prayer to anyone they want, any time they wish to do so?
What's in this thread that suggests they can't?
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:36 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by vivalostwages View Post
What's to stop anyone from offering up a silent, discreet prayer to anyone they want, any time they wish to do so?
Absolutely nothing. But the people who want prayer in schools want Christianity to be acknowledged as the official religion of America. Making it silent and personal defeats that goal. That's why the religious right perpetuates the lie that it is somehow illegal for individuals to pray in school. As we've said over and over, that's not true and nobody on the side of separation of church and state claims it's true. But the lie is a much better political position for them to raise funds and get their candidates elected.

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 04-05-2010 at 02:37 PM..
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:52 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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Originally Posted by vivalostwages View Post
What's to stop anyone from offering up a silent, discreet prayer to anyone they want, any time they wish to do so?
Not a thing. I routinely said a quiet blessing in Hebrew before eating my lunch.

My yarmulke was also exempt from the 'no hats in class' rule.

Their was a Christian prayer group that met of their own accord in the library and prayed quietly.

I think there was also a Jewish youth group but I'm not sure.

I graduated in 93.
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Old 04-05-2010, 03:48 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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All schools that have exams have prayer going on in school.
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Old 04-05-2010, 03:54 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Absolutely nothing. But the people who want prayer in schools want Christianity to be acknowledged as the official religion of America. Making it silent and personal defeats that goal. That's why the religious right perpetuates the lie that it is somehow illegal for individuals to pray in school. As we've said over and over, that's not true and nobody on the side of separation of church and state claims it's true. But the lie is a much better political position for them to raise funds and get their candidates elected.
I think only the first sentence of that answer belongs in GQ.

Related question -- are schools still permitted to conduct a "moment of silence" where prayer is neither suggested nor discouraged? I recall in my high school days (mid-80's) every school day started with the same routine over the loudspeaker: Pledge of Allegiance, moment of silence, announcements.
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Old 04-05-2010, 04:09 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
Related question -- are schools still permitted to conduct a "moment of silence" where prayer is neither suggested nor discouraged? I recall in my high school days (mid-80's) every school day started with the same routine over the loudspeaker: Pledge of Allegiance, moment of silence, announcements.
AFAIK, the moment of silence was ruled to be unconstitutional as well.
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Old 04-05-2010, 04:16 PM
Translucent Daydream Translucent Daydream is offline
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They still do in mine.*

*Pretty sure, I can hear the announcements coming from the school and some of them are prayers. I graduated from there 10 years ago.

Last edited by Translucent Daydream; 04-05-2010 at 04:17 PM.. Reason: *
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Old 04-05-2010, 04:17 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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AFAIK, the moment of silence was ruled to be unconstitutional as well.
That's interesting. I actually happened to be one of the students who led the morning announcements, and it never occurred to me until years later that the moment of silence was supposed to be an opportunity to pray.
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Old 04-05-2010, 04:38 PM
Kolga Kolga is offline
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That's interesting. I actually happened to be one of the students who led the morning announcements, and it never occurred to me until years later that the moment of silence was supposed to be an opportunity to pray.
It absolutely was supposed to be used for prayer. I got yelled at for reading a book during my high school's "moment of silence."
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:34 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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...although they tend to be in smaller districts in rural areas where the community tends to support such actions in despite of the law. Such districts only come to public attention when a student or parent protests, publicly...
I graduated from a small rural school district in 2003. We had a moment of silence after the pledge, but that was it. On 9/11 our principal did give a rather strange speech involving terrorism, God, football, & America over the intercom. Also for the rest of that year announcements & memos tended to conclude with the phrase "God Bless America".

Quote:
Originally Posted by MLS
...Personally, the "invocation" at non-classroom events does not offend me although I am a definite non-believer. All that's needed is to stand or sit quietly until whoever is speaking is done...
The surpsise prayer at my graduation really pissed me off. We had half a dozen rehearsals (2 in full cap & gown) that including everthing from the pledge, the national anthem, and the school song (which none of us had ever heard before) to every speech being read in full. No mention of a prayer; nothing in the programs about one. At the actual ceremony however after pledge, anthem, and school song our class advisor introduced the head of the Christian youth group to give a prayer. Which she did, an actual prayer, not a speech that just happened to mention her god. Nobody was given any warning or opportunity to object (unless of course they wanted to walk off the stage then and there). I just sat down while she was speaking (everyone else was still standing from the pledge & stuff).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skammer
That's interesting. I actually happened to be one of the students who led the morning announcements, and it never occurred to me until years later that the moment of silence was supposed to be an opportunity to pray.
One morning both of the students usually did the announcements happened to be absent. I was in the office (my homeroom teacher sent me on an errand) and one of the secretaries (the oldest one who worked for the principal) asked my to do them; which I did. When it got to the Pledge (which I didn't usually say at all) I omited the "under God" part. I noticed some confused looks from some of the people in the office. After I was finshed she took me aside, said I did very well, and kindly asked it if "forgot something". I pretended not to know what she was talking about. Finally she told me I forgot to say "under God" and I told her I did that on purpose, because "there isn't one". She gave me the "you've just sprouted two extra heads and they have horns" look, but didn't say anthing further.
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:48 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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Which she did, an actual prayer, not a speech that just happened to mention her god. Nobody was given any warning or opportunity to object (unless of course they wanted to walk off the stage then and there). I just sat down while she was speaking (everyone else was still standing from the pledge & stuff).
I would have commandeered the podium and explained that they were violating the first amendment.

Last edited by DocCathode; 04-05-2010 at 06:49 PM.. Reason: In Accordance With The Prophecy
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Old 04-05-2010, 08:49 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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I know this is GQ, but we have enough GD-type statements not to respond as such.

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Originally Posted by DocCathode View Post
I would have commandeered the podium and explained that they were violating the first amendment.
And I would commandeered the podium and started a riot by actually reading the text of that amendment.

It still bothers me to this day that the method to keep from abridging the students' rights to freedom of religion was to take it away from the adults.

At graduation of all places, we shouldn't have the stupid "BUT THE CHILDREN" crap. Come on, the majority of students are legal adults, and the influence of a single prayer is going to be minimal.

As for taking away the moment of silence: no mention of God is made. It's the ultimate in not forcing a religion, as any religion that wants to can take advantage of to pray, and any non-religion can do whatever the hell they want. Are we going to argue that meditation is inherently religious now?

There's a certain subset of people that seem to want to actually stop religion, rather than respecting the freedom of it. Until these people are stopped from making legal decisions, I see no reason to eradicate their opposites, as both are attempting to control others' religious expression. You need one to balance out the other.
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Old 04-05-2010, 08:54 PM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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DocCathcode: AFAIK, the moment of silence was ruled to be unconstitutional as well.
I haven't been in a classroom in twenty years, but I have tried to keep track of these things. I think that these laws requiring a moment of silence are still on the books.

Quote:
Kolga: It absolutely was supposed to be used for prayer.
I agree that that was what many on the Religious Right were hoping for, but that was not what the law specified. There was no stipulation about how that moment should be used. Your teacher was wrong.

Quote:
alphaboi: The surpsise prayer at my graduation really pissed me off.
It probably did many people. It was certainly against the law on a school sponsored event. I have been subject to the same crap those times when I had to work at graduation -- not just at the ceremony itself, but working with getting the seniors ready to march onto the field. The other teacher involved was very aware of my objections. That is one of the two times that I left my post of duty -- an offense for which I could be fired.

The other teacher was reprimanded.

I am a Christian.
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Old 04-05-2010, 09:27 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is offline
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At graduation of all places, we shouldn't have the stupid "BUT THE CHILDREN" crap. Come on, the majority of students are legal adults, and the influence of a single prayer is going to be minimal.
I never said anything remotely like 'But the children!'. I said I would have stormed the podium and given a speech on the first amendment- not for the sake of the children but because it was a violation of the law/

Quote:
There's a certain subset of people that seem to want to actually stop religion, rather than respecting the freedom of it. Until these people are stopped from making legal decisions, I see no reason to eradicate their opposites, as both are attempting to control others' religious expression. You need one to balance out the other.
Did you miss my first post in the thread? Where I mention my yarmulke and saying a blessing before I ate?

I don't want to eradicate religion. I want to uphold the first amendment.
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Old 04-05-2010, 09:39 PM
TimeWinder TimeWinder is offline
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There's a certain subset of people that seem to want to actually stop religion, rather than respecting the freedom of it. Until these people are stopped from making legal decisions, [...]
They are. It's called the first amendment. Anyone who wanted to pray at graduation was allowed to do so.

It became an issue when the school made the prayer a part of the program. That's the government imposing religion, and it's prohibited by the same constitution. (Can you imagine the outrage if that prayer had been a reading from the Koran?)

Is it really so hard to distinguish these two cases? Or to understand why allowing the first is extending freedom, and allowing the second is curtailing it? I have this argument with people all the time, telling me that the government has outlawed prayer in the schools--from people who really ought to know better.
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Old 04-05-2010, 09:46 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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...ETA: I don't know why we still did the Lord's Prayer even though the theoretical existence of Jewish people was recognized. Is it possible that since the prayer simply refers to "Our father in heaven" and not specifically to Jesus, that Jews would not mind being asked to recite it?...
Well New York had the Regent's Prayer;

Quote:
Originally Posted by New York State Board of Regents
Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.
It was the specific prayer at issue in Engel v. Vitale.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT
...At graduation of all places, we shouldn't have the stupid "BUT THE CHILDREN" crap. Come on, the majority of students are legal adults, and the influence of a single prayer is going to be minimal...
Yes, the majority of students were legal adults. Legal adults whom the administration went out of their way to keep from finding out about this single prayer and making it impossible for anyone to object without causing a scene.
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Old 04-05-2010, 09:57 PM
crowmanyclouds crowmanyclouds is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DocCathode View Post
AFAIK, the moment of silence was ruled to be unconstitutional as well.
I haven't been in a classroom in twenty years, but I have tried to keep track of these things. I think that these laws requiring a moment of silence are still on the books. ...
Quote:
... Courts have stated on these moments of silence cases that a secular purpose is necessary and according to Wallace v. Jaffree, a "statute must be invalidated if it is entirely motivated by a purpose to advance religion." ...
... in 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an Alabama "moment of silence or voluntary prayer" law was unconstitutional, in the case Wallace v. Jaffree. ...
Quote:
WALLACE v. JAFFREE, 472 U.S. 38 (1985)

In proceedings instituted in Federal District Court, appellees challenged the constitutionality of, inter alia, a 1981 Alabama Statute (16-1-20.1) authorizing a 1-minute period of silence in all public schools "for meditation or voluntary prayer." Although finding that 16-1-20.1 was an effort to encourage a religious activity, the District Court ultimately held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment does not prohibit a State from establishing a religion. The Court of Appeals reversed.

Held:

Section 16-1-20.1 is a law respecting the establishment of religion and thus violates the First Amendment. Pp. 48-61.
...
(b) One of the well-established criteria for determining the constitutionality of a statute under the Establishment Clause is that the statute must have a secular legislative purpose. Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612 -613. The First Amendment requires that a statute must be invalidated if it is entirely motivated by a purpose to advance religion. Pp. 55-56.

(c) The record here not only establishes that 16-1-20.1's purpose was to endorse religion, it also reveals that the enactment of the statute was not motivated by any clearly secular purpose. In particular, the statements of 16-1-20.1's sponsor in the legislative record and in his [472 U.S. 38, 39] testimony before the District Court indicate that the legislation was solely an "effort to return voluntary prayer" to the public schools. Moreover, such unrebutted evidence of legislative intent is confirmed by a consideration of the relationship between 16-1-20.1 and two other Alabama statutes - one of which, enacted in 1982 as a sequel to 16-1-20.1, authorized teachers to lead "willing students" in a prescribed prayer, and the other of which, enacted in 1978 as 16-1-20.1's predecessor, authorized a period of silence "for meditation" only. The State's endorsement, by enactment of 16-1-20.1, of prayer activities at the beginning of each schoolday is not consistent with the established principle that the government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion. Pp. 56-61.
...
A "moment of silence" - probably always Constitutional.
Lawmakers saying that one of the things one might do during that moment is pray - probably always un-Constitutional.

CMC fnord!

Last edited by crowmanyclouds; 04-05-2010 at 09:59 PM..
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  #31  
Old 04-05-2010, 11:13 PM
appleciders appleciders is offline
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Uh, what? In Wallace v. Jaffree, the Court struck down a "moment of silence" as unconstitutional.
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:19 PM
Terra1041 Terra1041 is offline
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A student led the class in prayer on 9-11, when I was in high school in rural Michigan. The school was overwhelmingly Christian and I was one of the only atheists there. He didn't get in trouble for it, although I was upset with him.
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Old 04-06-2010, 12:21 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Grad of early 1970's, no classroom prayer ever, no moment of silence. I think one teacher offered a prayer once for the Grads who were still missing or died in the Viet-Nam War, at a game or some time we were gathered together.
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Old 04-06-2010, 02:08 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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I think one teacher offered a prayer once for the Grads who were still missing or died in the Viet-Nam War, at a game or some time we were gathered together.
I remember a case like that at a local school.

The teacher at the podium suddenly tossed in something like "ask God's blessing at our recent graduates now in Vietnam, some of whose lives have been given up ..."

Then "wasted!" came from somewhere in the group of students. The teacher whirled around and demanded "What was that? Who said that?" and a student in front answered "dunno who it was. But what they said was that their lives were wasted in Vietnam."

Before the teacher could respond point an elderly man in the audience jumped up and screamed "how can you say they were wasted? Defending our country in never a wasted life!"

Then another audience member jumped up and yelled "How are they defending our country in some jungle 8,000 miles away? There aren't any Vietcong invading here in Minnesota, but our Minnesotan kids are dying over in Vietnam!" By then about half the audience was on its' feet, screaming at each other and getting ready to start throwing punches.

The Principal rushed to the podium, pushed the teacher away, yelled "Quiet! Everybody sit down! We will now proceed with the business." and then went on. That teacher was not allowed back to the podium at all.

From the principal's son, we learned he spent the rest of that evening and breakfast the next morning answering phone calls from the teachers union reps, the district supervisor, and various school board members. Don't know what ever came of it ... except that nobody at any school event for the rest of that year offered up any such prayers.

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  #35  
Old 04-06-2010, 02:26 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Uh, what? In Wallace v. Jaffree, the Court struck down a "moment of silence" as unconstitutional.
More specifically, they struck down "a moment of silence" in those states where the legislative record, (particularly in the actual language of the law), explicitly set forth prayer as one reason to keep the moment of silence. A state in which the "moment of silence" was ordered for students to collect their thoughts is probably not affected by Wallace, as noted by the post prior to yours. There are at least a dozen states that currently provide for a "moment of silence" in the classroom that have not been shut down by the Supreme Court. That I am aware, no challenges to any of those laws have made it to the Supreme Court, but so far, none have been struck down in the Appellate Courts. Wallace was struck down because prayer was explicitly included in the language of the law.
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:46 AM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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I was shocked when I moved to the South and started to attend school events with my wife, a high school teacher. One time I attended a faculty meeting with her (I was a substitute that day) and the Principal opened the meeting in prayer! There was also a blessing said at the prom, which we chaperoned.
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:53 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
That's interesting. I actually happened to be one of the students who led the morning announcements, and it never occurred to me until years later that the moment of silence was supposed to be an opportunity to pray.
I graduated in '96, and we'd have MOS if someone died, or if there was a local tragedy or something of that nature. I don't know if that counts, though, since it was usually a dedication more than anything else. "Let's have a moment of silence for so and so, or the victims of...blah blah blah."

In fact, I seem to recall someone at my school died, and they did that. But like I said, I don't know if that counts as prayer.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:23 PM
Notassmartasithought Notassmartasithought is offline
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I'm from Minnesota and old enough to remember when public schools shut down for 2+ hours on Wednesday mornings so public school buses could take kids to their churches for parochial education. There were one or two kids who didn't go, and I always envied them. Never saw any social negatives for them.

I had a close friend who taught elementary school in small town South Carolina into the '90s, and never stopped starting her class every day with prayer.

Folks who claim that the prohibition of faculty or administration led prayer is a violation of the freedom of religion just don't understand the establishment clause, and ought be outed at every opportunity.
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:51 PM
Chicagojeff Chicagojeff is offline
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Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
I was shocked when I moved to the South and started to attend school events with my wife, a high school teacher. One time I attended a faculty meeting with her (I was a substitute that day) and the Principal opened the meeting in prayer! There was also a blessing said at the prom, which we chaperoned.
yeah Skammer.. imagine my shock when i realized that after the end of every roll call we had to say a prayer.. thats one of the times i realized that I was in Atlanta and not in Chicago anymore. Ironically one of my co-workers is a Vietnamese guy who doesn't believe in organized religion. One of the Sgt. used to try to get him to say the prayer until i pointed out that being the point man in his future lawsuit against the county wouldn't be the smartest thing to do.
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Old 04-07-2010, 06:07 PM
crowmanyclouds crowmanyclouds is offline
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Uh, what? In Wallace v. Jaffree, the Court struck down a "moment of silence" as unconstitutional.
tomndebb covered most of it, but read the decision again.

The SCotUS never had to consider if a "moment of silence" is or isn't constitutional,
Quote:
JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.

At an early stage of this litigation, the constitutionality of three Alabama statutes was questioned: (1) 16-1-20, enacted in 1978, which authorized a 1-minute period of silence in all public schools "for meditation"; (2) 16-1-20.1, enacted in 1981, which authorized a period of silence "for meditation or voluntary prayer"; and (3) 16-1-20.2, enacted in 1982, which authorized teachers to lead "willing students" in a prescribed prayer to "Almighty God . . . the Creator and Supreme Judge of the world." [472 U.S. 38, 41]

At the preliminary-injunction stage of this case, the District Court distinguished 16-1-20 from the other two statutes. It then held that there was "nothing wrong" with 16-1-20, but that 16-1-20.1 and 16-1-20.2 were both invalid because the sole purpose of both was "an effort on the part of the State of Alabama to encourage a religious activity." After the trial on the merits, the District Court did not change its interpretation of these two statutes, but held that they were constitutional because, in its opinion, Alabama has the power to establish a state religion if it chooses to do so.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court's initial interpretation of the purpose of both 16-1-20.1 and 16-1-20.2, and held them both unconstitutional. We have already affirmed the Court of Appeals' holding with respect to 16-1-20.2. Moreover, appellees have not questioned the holding that 16-1-20 is valid. Thus, the narrow question for decision is whether 16-1-20.1, which authorizes a period of silence for "meditation or voluntary prayer," is a [472 U.S. 38, 42] law respecting the establishment of religion within the meaning of the First Amendment....
Bold=CMC
Wallace v. Jaffree was only about 16-1-20.1,
Quote:
... The unrebutted evidence of legislative intent contained in the legislative record and in the testimony of the sponsor of 16-1-20.1 is confirmed by a consideration of the relationship between this statute and the two other measures that were considered in this case. The District Court found that the 1981 statute and its 1982 sequel had a common, nonsecular purpose. The wholly religious character of the later enactment is plainly evident from its text. When the differences between 16-1-20.1 and its 1978 predecessor, 16-1-20, are examined, it is equally clear that the 1981 statute has the same wholly religious character.

There are only three textual differences between 16-1-20.1 and 16-1-20: (1) the earlier statute applies only to grades one through six, whereas 16-1-20.1 applies to all grades; (2) the earlier statute uses the word "shall" whereas 16-1-20.1 uses the word "may"; (3) the earlier statute refers [472 U.S. 38, 59] only to "meditation" whereas 16-1-20.1 refers to "meditation or voluntary prayer." The first difference is of no relevance in this litigation because the minor appellees were in kindergarten or second grade during the 1981-1982 academic year. The second difference would also have no impact on this litigation because the mandatory language of 16-1-20 continued to apply to grades one through six. Thus, the only significant textual difference is the addition of the words "or voluntary prayer."

The legislative intent to return prayer to the public schools is, of course, quite different from merely protecting every student's right to engage in voluntary prayer during an appropriate moment of silence during the schoolday. The 1978 statute already protected that right, containing nothing that prevented any student from engaging in voluntary prayer during a silent minute of meditation. Appellants have not identified any secular purpose that was not fully served by 16-1-20 before the enactment of 16-1-20.1. Thus, only two conclusions are consistent with the text of 16-1-20.1: (1) the statute was enacted to convey a message of state endorsement and promotion of prayer; or (2) the statute was enacted for no purpose. No one suggests that the statute was nothing but a meaningless or irrational act.

We must, therefore, conclude that the Alabama Legislature intended to change existing law and that it was motivated [472 U.S. 38, 60] by the same purpose that the Governor's answer to the second amended complaint expressly admitted; that the statement inserted in the legislative history revealed; and that Senator Holmes' testimony frankly described. The legislature enacted 16-1-20.1, despite the existence of 16-1-20 for the sole purpose of expressing the State's endorsement of prayer activities for one minute at the beginning of each schoolday. The addition of "or voluntary prayer" indicates that the State intended to characterize prayer as a favored practice. Such an endorsement is not consistent with the established principle that the government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion.

The importance of that principle does not permit us to treat this as an inconsequential case involving nothing more than a few words of symbolic speech on behalf of the political majority. For whenever the State itself speaks on a religious [472 U.S. 38, 61] subject, one of the questions that we must ask is "whether the government intends to convey a message of endorsement or disapproval of religion." The well-supported concurrent findings of the District Court and the Court of Appeals - that 16-1-20.1 was intended to convey a message of state approval of prayer activities in the public schools - make it unnecessary, and indeed inappropriate, to evaluate the practical significance of the addition of the words "or voluntary prayer" to the statute. Keeping in mind, as we must, "both the fundamental place held by the Establishment Clause in our constitutional scheme and the myriad, subtle ways in which Establishment Clause values can be eroded," we conclude that 16-1-20.1 violates the First Amendment. ...
Bold=CMC
The SCotUS couldn't strike down a "moment of silence" as unconstitutional in Wallace v. Jaffree because a "moment of silence" was never an issue before them.
I don't feel like tracking it down but, I wouldn't be surprised to find that Alabama 16-1-20 is still the state law.

I'm not sure how a well written "moment of silence" law (maybe Alabama 16-1-20? ) would raise any Constitutional question(s).
At best you could argue that it's wasting student's valuable classroom time, but I'm not seeing what part of the CotUS that violates.

CMC fnord!
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