This post is a little closer to home but it is very important to everyone. Texas schools have a “moment of silence” after the pledge of allegiance and an atheist who had children going to these schools said that it was unconstitutional because it forced people to pray. Thus he said that it was a violation of the first amendment, which reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
First off congress had made no law that established a religion in schools, and neither did Texas. The opinion that religion is illegal in any public place came from the idea of separation of church and state. The separation of church and state came out of a letter from Thomas Jefferson, and it has been taken out of context. Jefferson’s letter reads as follows:
To messers Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.
The affectionate sentiments of esteem & approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful & zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more & more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorized only to execute their acts, I have refrained from presenting even occasional performances of devotion presented indeed legally where an Executive is the legal head of a national church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.] Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
(signed) Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson said that the first amendment put up a wall between the church and the state but he did not say that we had to have complete separation of church and state. Thus even the defense of the separation of church and state does not succeed since we have no law prohibiting it. Thus it is legal to have religion in public places as long as it is not a religion established by the government.
Thankfully, the atheist’s attack on the moment of silence failed, and the courts declared it constitutional. I hope that all of you will stand up for what little bit of religion we still have within our school system.