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Illinois moment of silence ruled unconstitutional

Posted in News by Skepdude on January 22, 2009

CHICAGO —

A federal judge has ruled that a state law requiring a moment of silence in public schools across Illinois is unconstitutional, saying it crosses the line separating church and state.

“The statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion,” U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman said in his ruling Wednesday.

The ruling came in a lawsuit designed to bar schools from enforcing the Illinois Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act. It was filed by talk show host Rob Sherman, an outspoken atheist, and his daughter, Dawn, a high school student.

Gettleman’s ruling was not a surprise. He had already ruled in favor of Sherman in two previous decisions.

As passed by the Illinois General Assembly, the law allows students to reflect on the day’s activities rather than pray if that is their choice and defenders have said it therefore doesn’t force religion on anyone.

But Gettleman backed critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union, who say the law is a thinly disguised effort to bring religion into the schools.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THE SEATTLE TIMES.

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