Moment of silence is an infringement

Letter to the Editor
Published: 11/2/2007 12:17 AM

I was thrilled Dawn Sherman, a student in Northwest Suburban Township High School District, filed lawsuit against her school district and took a stance on the issue of the separation of church and state in the public schools.

But when her father was labeled an "activist atheist," I was disappointed because the case loses merit. Of course an atheist is against school prayer.

As a Christian whose children attend public schools, I was outraged to learn of the mandatory "prayer/reflection" requirement set forth by the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act. This is another case where our government is abusing power and infringing on our personal liberties.

Some legislators will say they didn't intend for this to be about prayer (despite the name of the bill) but instead about forcing students to "reflect" at school about their busy day. I guess they think Illinois' parents aren't capable of providing a venue for religious expression or thoughtful meditation in the home. So, they have decided to force another requirement on our teachers, ironically making a busier day.

I have tried to explain to my young children that I don't want them to pray during the designated moment of prayer (as a silent protest). This is tricky for them to understand. After all, we pray every night before bed and we go to church on Sundays and Wednesday nights. So, why not pray at school?

They don't get it and clearly our state legislators don't either. If they really just want thoughtful meditation in schools why not consider offering yoga during P.E.? The reason is that this would not be a step in the direction of outright prayer in school.

This is a slippery slope and I thank Dawn Sherman and her family for taking on this venture.

Nell Thelin Novak