SPRINGFIELD—As a result of a court action taken last week, thousands of Illinois students observed a “moment of silence” in school this morning before beginning class work. Previously, there had been an injunction placed on the moment of silence. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that Illinois’ Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act is constitutional because it did not specifically require prayer.

 

“I am grateful that the court agreed that it was not our intention to mandate school prayer,” said Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), who originally sponsored the legislation.  “When we drafted and passed the Act, we did not specifically require prayer in the language of the bill because we acknowledge that students in each classroom hold different belief systems. We wanted to recognize the millions of perspectives – religious or otherwise – that make up Illinois.”

The Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act requires schools to set aside a “moment of silence” each day for quiet reflection. Prior to the bill’s passage, Illinois law stated that a teacher may observe a brief period of silence so long as all students assembled were allowed to participate.

The Illinois legislature overwhelmingly passed the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act in 2007. The bill was vetoed by former Governor Rod Blagojevich, but the veto was overruled and the law went into effect. Until the injunction was lifted last week, the law had not been observed while the court system deliberated.

Lightford likened the “moment of silence” to the Illinois General Assembly beginning each day of session with a prayer.

“We begin each legislative day with a prayer and we invite citizens of all different religious backgrounds to lead us in prayer. It serves as a reminder to us that we come from different backgrounds and have unique points of view. It also helps me to concentrate on what I have to do that day,” Lightford said. “We live in a society where we are constantly moving at a hectic pace. Having a moment of silence in school can help slow the pace for a brief time to allow students to take a deep breath and focus on their studies and their lives.”

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