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Lawmaker proposes mandatory moment of silence

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Schools in Florida would be required to offer students and teachers a moment of silence at the start of every school day under a bill introduced into the State’s Senate earlier this month.

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Mandatory school prayer in public schools was long controversial when in 1962 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the practice unconstitutional.

Then in 1981, then-President Ronald Reagan proposed a constitutional amendment allowing organized prayer in public schools. Later, former Secretary of State Colin Powell advocated that a moment of silence be permitted in public schools. Critics opposed the notion arguing that moments of silence served no non-religious purpose.

Since then, individual states have passed laws allowing moments of silence in public schools. Those laws have been challenged with varying success.

On Dec. 17, State Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) introduced SB 282 into the Florida Senate. The proposed measure would authorize public school principals to require first-period teachers in all grades to set aside between 1 and 2 minutes at the beginning of each school day for a moment of silence.

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During that time no student may interfere with another’s participation in the moment of silence, and no teacher may make suggestions regarding how the students may take part in the communal period of silence.

No one from the Florida American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was available to comment on the proposed measure.

Whether a twin bill will be introduced into the State’s House of Representatives remains to be seen.

SB 282 is pending until the next legislative session begins in March.

 

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