Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and attorneys with the Foundation for Moral Law argued in an amicus curiae brief filed yesterday that a Texas law requiring “the observance of one minute of silence at each school” for students to “reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity” does not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In Croft v. Governor of Texas, two parents in Texas sued the Governor on behalf of their children claiming that merely giving students the option to “pray” is a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Judge Roy Moore said:
“Taking the Bible and teacher-led prayer out of schools is apparently not enough for these plaintiffs, who now want to ban even the mention of prayer in Texas schools. Texas schools are upholding the American ideal of the free exercise of religion by allowing students to voluntarily choose to pray during the moment of silence at the beginning of their school day. What offends these plaintiffs is that students might actually believe that there is a higher authority and a higher law to which they shall be held accountable. Isn’t that really freedom?”
The Foundation explains in its amicus brief in Croft that the Establishment Clause only prohibits laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” In this case, Texas Educ. Code § 25.082(d) only gives the option to pray during the moment of silence. No student is forced to pray, told how to pray, or told to Whom he or she must pray. A student is only required to be silent for 60 seconds. Such a law does not legally establish anyone‚s duties to God and the manner of performing those duties. In fact, allowing for such freedom of religion is exactly what the First Amendment was intended to protect.
Since the lower court in this case upheld the Texas moment of silence statute the Foundation urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to affirm the lower court but to do so because the statute does not violate the words of the Establishment Clause: it is not a “law respecting an establishment of religion.”