All public schools in Illinois have to observe a moment of silence to begin each day, according to the Springfield Journal Register. (H/T to ECS) Illinois lawmakers overrode Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto of the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act despite the fact that state law already permitted schools to observe a daily moment of silence. The new law makes the quiet time mandatory. From SJ-R.com:
"The law in Illinois today already allows teachers and students the opportunity to take a moment for silent thought or prayer, if they chose to," he wrote. "I believe this is the right balance between the principles echoed in our constitution, and our deeply held desire to practice our faith."
But supporters of the legislation said it does not force students to pray.
"We are bombarding them with information, with music, with all the things they're going to need later on, but do they ever have a moment of silence?" asked Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago.
Lawmakers opposed to the legislation contended it is bad public policy on several fronts. Calling the bill an "ambiguous, unenforceable, unpunishable, unproductive piece of legislation," Sen. John Fritchey, D-Chicago, urged his colleagues to uphold the governor's veto.
The Chicago Tribune says the move thrust Illinois into the national debate on school prayer. Open Forum thinks this issue is a significantly less touchy than prayer in school, but we’re scratching our heads at the mandate.
The current law allows school communities an option and offers the necessary legal protection. One would think that’s enough. But, obviously Illinois is into mandates and passing additional laws. And now, a moment of silence.