My wife Shannon and I, both Religious Humanists, are working with our attorney Dean Cook to have the new mandatory moment of silence law in Texas public schools declared unconstitutional. Recently Mr. Cook discovered this 2003 press release by the author of the bill, a Texas state senator. The senator describes the religious purpose of the new law as follows:
Aristotle said that habituation at an early age makes more than a little difference, it makes almost all the difference. If you agree with Aristotles philosophy, then if you want children to be responsible, hold them responsible. If you want children to know what work is, have them work.
If you want children to love country and state, teach them to honor their flags. If you want them to value a power higher than their own, provide them with a minute to reflect, meditate or pray.
Habituating our children to value a higher power is not a legitimate purpose of government. That is why this new law is unconstitutional. It violates the first clause of the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights.
The senator is not the first to say something like this. It immediately reminded me of the Jesuit saying, "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man." Here are two more statements from my quotes collection with a similar theme.
State education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly alike one another; ... in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body. ~ John Stuart Mill, 1859
Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. ~ Benjamin Disraeli, 1874
Please note that the following statement in the press release is incorrect:
It was encouraging when the U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld a state law in Virginia that mandates one minute of silence for reflection, meditation or prayer in Virginia public schools.
In fact, the last time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a moment of silence in public schools, they declared it unconstitutional. You can read more about this on our Moment of Silence webpage.