North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Moment of Silence

Moment of Silence

A former member
Post #: 65
My wife Shannon and I have been concerned for some time about violations of church-state separation at the public elementary school where our children attend. Today our attorney Dean Cook filed a petition to have the mandatory moment of silence law in the Texas state education code ruled unconstitutional. You can read more about this on my "Moment of Silence" webpage:
http://www.croftpress...­
A former member
Post #: 1
Congrats! You made news on WFAA! .......[DELETED BY ORGANIZER FOR VIOLATING COMMUNITY STANDARDS, SPECIFICALLY: LACK OF CIVILITY] ......... Just because a teacher or two, or a legislator or two said the moment could be used for "prayer", you fly off the deep end. Most kids wouldn't use that moment of silence to pray anyway. Most would daydream, or flick boogers at their friends, think about recess, or something else, but since a few idiots crossed the line and mentioned prayer, you want to make this a federal case - literally. I will wager my life savings that if Allah, Buddha, or Vishnu were brought up, or a child brought in a statue of Ganesh for show-and-tell, or a student was reading Dianetics or some other piece of Scientology BS, you wouldn't raise an eyebrow, would you? Your attack is on God and the Judeo-Christian belief, and NOT on the supernatural beliefs of other religions. .......[DELETED BY ORGANIZER FOR VIOLATING COMMUNITY STANDARDS, SPECIFICALLY: LACK OF CIVILITY] .........

Don't worry, I won't start a continuous thread here. In fact, I'll do you a favor and I will vanish. I just wanted to tell you what most normal people in your area think of you, and before you accuse me of being a "Bush-bot" or a redneck cretin, I'll let you know I've been in Mensa since childhood, and I actually loathe George Bush. How about them apples?
cool


Edited for content by Organizer:
After initial wholesale deletion for outright rude and ad-hominem attacks, I took a few minutes to review the original content of the post and put back a few sentences. I probably should not have wasted my time.
I also immediately removed this person from NTOS because his post clearly demonstrates he is not constructively interested in Ayn Rand's works or Objectivism. His own post recognizes that he would not be welcome here.
-- Todd
A former member
Post #: 18
David,
Interesting posting about the law suit. Good luck with it.

About the posting from "Neino" above.

Congrats! .....Don't worry, I won't start a continuous thread here. In fact, I'll do you a favor and I will vanish...
cool

I think I will be very pleased if he will in fact vanish. :-) I think he has some serious issues that have haunted him for some time. lol

So, hang in there. And best of luck.

Elder Norm
A former member
Post #: 57
Todd,

You may get some more of that for the next couple of days. They mentioned that David was involved with NTOS by name on the Dallas Morning News article.

"Mr. Croft ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 2002 and for the state Legislature in 2004. As a Libertarian he advocated that the only legitimate functions of government are police, the courts and the military. He now is involved in the North Texas Objectivist Society and Humanist Fellowship. His wife is a member of the school's PTA and volunteers at the school. "
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/religion/stories/031406dnmetprayer.214283e6.html­
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 164
The Texas "moment of silence" law and/or how it is actually implemented in Texas public schools may well raise issues under the principle of separation of church and state.

More fundamentally, however, I think the government should get out of the business of educating children.

A parent has a personal responsibility to take care of his or her own children, including the responsibility to see to their education. Parents directly paying or providing for their own children's education have the freedom to choose the type of schooling that the individual parents value, including whether or not it should include religious instruction.

But parents do not have the right to force others to pay for the education of their children. And a group of people, even a majority, that may value the education of children in general does not have the moral right to force other people who may not share that value to pay for it.

Using force for these types of purposes violates the principle that: “Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others.” For example, that a person may desire something for his children, whether a new bicycle or an education, does not give him the right to force another person to pay for it at the point of a gun.

Public education is a form of socialism, which is the politics of forcible taking from one group in the name of the welfare of another group. In Texas, this takes the form of taxation of property owners for the welfare of children. The forcible taking is real – while generally implemented without overt physical threats or violence, it is on threat of and can be literally at the point of a gun, for the purpose of taking and sale of the subject property for failure to pay the taxes.

Of course, as we are all in fact forced to pay taxes in various ways to support the public schools and other socialist programs, I think we can rightfully choose whether or not to avail ourselves of the service, whether the education is good or bad, and we can meanwhile also rightfully complain about it, seek to abolish it, and so long as it continues, we can even seek to improve it and seek to make sure it honors the principle of separation of church and state. See, e.g., Ayn Rand’s article on the propriety of accepting government student loans.

For various reasons, I personally may not have chosen the particular strategy and legal battle that the Croft family and Dean Cook have undertaken. Nevertheless, I think a federal court is at least one appropriate forum for seeking a peaceable resolution of such issues.

Any comments on these thoughts?

-- Todd

Edited to insert ommitted word "ways" in second to last paragraph.
A former member
Post #: 61
Todd,

I agree with the substance of just about everything you said here. I also think that whether to fight a particular Constitutional violation is a question of your own personal context. For instance, when I was sworn into the State Bar of Texas, I had to say "so help me god" at the end...and I did so, without hesitation, because, in my personal context, it just wasn't a battle that I could fight, even though I thought it violated seperation of church and state principles in the Constitution. (Basically, I couldn't afford to fight it in court.) As Ayn Rand put it, "morality ends where the barrel of a gun begins", which I've always taken to mean: If you're literally forced to do something, then you don't have to "beat yourself up" over the fact that it was something that you thought was wrong.

That said, I think that this case is important. As someone who spent most of his primary and secondary years in a Texas public school, I can tell you that there were several instances of Church-State seperation by Teachers and other individuals at my school that I either personally witnessed, or was told about by friends. There was one teacher at Plano Senior High School that pulled a girl out of class for saying she was an atheist, and proceeded to lecture her about why she was wrong to be an atheist. That same teacher told another friend of mine (who was somewhat troubled), that all he needed to do was "open his heart to god", or some other such nonsense. A teacher, who is "on the clock", so to speak, should not be engaging in such behavior. The worst part is that most of this goes on in public schools and it is very difficult to catch, because it isn't written down anywhere that teachers should engage in such church-state seperation violations. It's simply an unwritten institutionalized policy of the fundamentalist teachers and administrators at public schools that they are going to constantly push the envelope, and know that they can probably get away with it because most people don't have the money (thanks in part to high taxes) or the time to fight them. This particular law that we are fighting creates another pretext for these fundamentalist teachers and administrators to promote religion, while remaining under cover of promoting "religious accomodation". But, no such accommodation is needed, since students could siliently pray any time they wanted to. This law may be viewed as a minor violation by some, but every violation of the principles of church-state seperation invites more such violations. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, he will jump right out. If you put a frog into a pot of room-temperature water and then slowly raise it to a boil, he will just sit there and cook to death. (I don't know if that is actually true, but it's such a great metaphor.)


The Texas "moment of silence" law and/or how it is actually implemented in Texas public schools may well raise issues under the principle of separation of church and state.

More fundamentally, however, I think the government should get out of the business of educating children.

A parent has a personal responsibility to take care of his or her own children, including the responsibility to see to their education. Parents directly paying or providing for their own children's education have the freedom to choose the type of schooling that the individual parents value, including whether or not it should include religious instruction.

But parents do not have the right to force others to pay for the education of their children. And a group of people, even a majority, that may value the education of children in general does not have the moral right to force other people who may not share that value to pay for it.

Using force for these types of purposes violates the principle that: “Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others.” For example, that a person may desire something for his children, whether a new bicycle or an education, does not give him the right to force another person to pay for it at the point of a gun.

Public education is a form of socialism, which is the politics of forcible taking from one group in the name of the welfare of another group. In Texas, this takes the form of taxation of property owners for the welfare of children. The forcible taking is real – while generally implemented without overt physical threats or violence, it is on threat of and can be literally at the point of a gun, for the purpose of taking and sale of the subject property for failure to pay the taxes.

Of course, as we are all in fact forced to pay taxes in various to support the public schools and other socialist programs, I think we can rightfully choose whether or not to avail ourselves of the service, whether the education is good or bad, and we can meanwhile also rightfully complain about it, seek to abolish it, and so long as it continues, we can even seek to improve it and seek to make sure it honors the principle of separation of church and state. See, e.g., Ayn Rand’s article on the propriety of accepting government student loans.

For various reasons, I personally may not have chosen the particular strategy and legal battle that the Croft family and Dean Cook have undertaken. Nevertheless, I think a federal court is at least one appropriate forum for seeking a peaceable resolution of such issues.

Any comments on these thoughts?

-- Todd

Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 10
I see no issues with having a public education system instituted and think that it is only beneficial for a government to try and keep its people educated. I do not view it as parent’s forcing other people to pay for their children’s education; it is simply the state trying to benefit itself as a whole. I’ve seen articles and discussions for and against this subject, but the fact is that this country is one of the leading centers for education in the world.

There are issues with the system, just as there are issues with every system. As for the taxes, if you wish to pull your children from public education and put them into a private school that you pay tuition, then I believe you shouldn't be held liable to pay the taxes to upkeep the public system. I also think one school district taking tax money from another to prop up its education is wrong and was happy to see the robin hood plan shot down. That money should stay where it will benefit those contributing. While most people argue and gripe about education funding coming from property taxes, good schools in an area attract a higher class of people which invariably increases property value for those properties being taxed. Good schools also attract higher tech companies because of the local talent pool, and it is usually in the company’s best interest to donate to those education programs to even further its talent pool.

As for the religious influences in the public school system, well, that’s just something that is going to have to be accommodated. Somewhere in this thread it was mentioned that it’s the parents’ responsibility to educate their children, and this is especially important in this regard. The biggest influence in a child’s life is its parents, and if something they encounter goes against your belief system or what you are trying to force your children to believe, well then teach your children otherwise, or let them make their own choices. Do I want to ensure that my children never see any religious influences in school? No, I think that is a very naïve stance, and I strive to make sure my children are educated enough to make their own choices. If one of them decides that they need to believe in god, I will respect that and not even be disappointed.

Religion is everywhere in this country, you can not shelter them from it. A moment of silence is just that, a moment of silence, it is not a religious doctrine. If they do manage to legislate teachers leading classes in prayer in the morning, I will fight that with every tooth and nail because it is the government dictating belief, but this is not that.


Travis
A former member
Post #: 62
A moment of silence is just that, a moment of silence, it is not a religious doctrine. If they do manage to legislate teachers leading classes in prayer in the morning, I will fight that with every tooth and nail because it is the government dictating belief, but this is not that.


Travis


The case law says otherwise with respect to a statute such as the one involved here.
Dan
dbclawyer
Allen, TX
Post #: 17
Dean,

Other than Wallace and Lemmon, I would be interested in knowing which case law you are refering to. I reread Wallace yesterday and sheperdized it. I also pulled a number of cases dealing with a "moment of silence" from the other circuits and will go through those tonight. We don't have to sort through it on this thread but I am interested in discussing this with you further.
Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 11
Alabama's code was struck down because the suit included more than just the moment of silence, but also teacher led prayer. [Ala.Code § 16-1-20 (Supp.1984) (moment of silent meditation); Ala.Code § 16-1-20.1 (Supp.1984) (moment of silence for meditation or prayer); and Ala.Code § 16-1-20.2 (Supp.1984) (teachers authorized to lead students in vocal prayer)]
states:
§ 16-1-20.1 "At the commencement of the first class of each day in all grades in all public schools the teacher in charge of the room in which each class is held may announce that a period of silence not to exceed one minute in duration shall be observed for meditation or voluntary prayer, and during any such period no other activities shall be engaged in."

which is a clear mandate to a religious activity, only meditation or prayer.

Texas enacted this:
"During the one-minute period, each student may, as the student chooses, reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student. Each teacher or other school employee in charge of students during that period shall ensure that each of those students remains silent and does not act in a manner that is likely to interfere with or distract another student."

which leaves the door open for secular activity. The first amendment does not make it illegal to recognize people might pray. Both Powell's and O'Connors opinions suggest that if they hadn't closed the door on activities other than prayer or meditation that they would have upheld the law.
"As a general matter, I agree. It is difficult to discern a serious threat to religious liberty from a room of silent, thoughtful schoolchildren". Whether the kids use that minute to double check their notes before the pop quiz or simply pray for an A is their problem.

Travis
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