Moment of Pray-I mean, Silence

Michelle Lega, Copy Editor

Even though the government has long been advocating a “separation of church and state,” you don’t have to look hard to see that this isn’t true. The phrase “under God” is still in the Pledge and teachers still decorate their rooms for Christmas, but all of this is tolerable. The reinstated moment of silence every morning is not tolerable. While it is supposed to be just a moment of reflection, it has a religious connotation that should not be allowed in public schools.

It would be one thing if the moment of silence was during a homeroom or an advisory period, but it’s during second period which takes away from class time. Some people may argue that the moment of silence settles students down and gets them ready to learn, but it really just shortens the time that the teacher has to teach. Teachers have complained about students arriving late to second period and now they have to wait through a moment of silence before they begin class. In my experience, students don’t even get quiet when the moment of silence is announced, which makes it pointless.

Along with limiting class time, it also gives a religious tone to a public school. By putting the phrase “under God” in the Pledge, the state is basically forcing students to accept a certain religion. By the same token, allotting time for silent reflection at the beginning of the day is a not-so-subtle way to emphasize prayer in school. If students want to pray or worship their God, they can do it on their own time, not the school’s time. The moment of silence law states that it “shall not be conducted as a religious exercise but shall be an opportunity for silent prayer or for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day.” The fact that the law includes “silent prayer” negates the assertion that this is not a religious exercise.

While I have less than a semester left of dealing with the moment of silence, I feel bad for those who have to tolerate it for years longer. Hopefully the Illinois State Board of Education will repeal this law again, but until then, I will have to grit my teeth every morning during the moment of silence.