Just Like a Prayer

Family challenges moment of silence law that allows students to pray in school, loses

How students spend 60 seconds of their day has been a source of debate in America for years. The moment of silence law (which makes it sound like someone died), was enacted in 1995 allowing school districts to choose whether they wanted to allot a minute at the beginning of their days, but was amended in 2003 to make the time mandantory for all schools.

During the time, the students are permitted to quietly practice prayer or meditation, or “engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student.”

Some family in Texas was bound to not want to stand for that soon.

And a family didn’t. David and Shannon Croft, a suburban Dallas couple with three children enrolled in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, sued Gov. Rick Perry on the grounds that the word “pray” in the 2003 moment of silence law was an attempt to covertly advance religion in the classroom. Another couple joined in the lawsuit, but have remained anonymous.

On Monday the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state law.

According to official opinion of the court, “The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Perry, holding that [the “moment of silence” law] had a secular legislative purpose and was not an establishment of religion.”

Contention usually follows these laws wherever they go. In January, an Illinois District court struck down a moment of silence law as unconstitutional. But for now in Texas, atheist kids will have to think about video games or something.

Holly is a journalist who has written for D Magazine and Examiner.

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