In a decision with national implications, a divided federal appeals court has upheld a Virginia law requiring every public school in the state to establish a daily "moment of silence" to enable students to "mediate, pray, or engage in any other silent activity."
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last July rejected arguments by a coalition of students and parents in Brown v. Gilmore that the practice violates the First Amendment's requirement of church/state separation.
The minute of silence does not "promote" prayer or any other religious activity, the two-judge majority argued. Rather, it provides each student a daily opportunity "to think, to meditate, to quiet emotions, to clear the mind, to focus on the day, to relax, to doze, or to pray."
As such, the pause at the beginning of the school day is an effective "classroom management tool" and makes for a "better school day," the majority concluded.
Warning that the "Virginia statute is, like the Trojan Horse, a hollow guise," dissenting Judge Robert B. King complained that the law is …