CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the state law requiring a moment of silence in public schools across Illinois is unconstitutional, saying it crosses the line separating church and state.
“The statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion,” the judge, Robert W. Gettleman, said in his ruling. . . .
. . . . The “teacher is required to instruct her pupils, especially in the lower grades, about prayer and its meaning as well as the limitations on their ‘reflection,’ ” Judge Gettleman ruled.
“The plain language of the statute, therefore, suggests an intent to force the introduction of the concept of prayer into the schools,” he ruled. . . .
The Minnesota chapter of the ACLU has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against an Inver Grove Heights-based charter school for using taxpayer money to promote religion.
"Minnesotans are not interested in having their tax dollars go to fund sectarian schools," the ACLU's Chuck Samuelson said. "The money's going to the mosque. It's all the same thing, the school is the mosque which is the property owner," Samuelson said.
Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy is the first entity named in the suit. A communications firm hired by the school responded to the suit in a statement. "We are surprised by today's actions. . . . .
. . . . The ACLU alleges teachers illegally lead prayers; the school has said students lead any prayers. The school has also said some kids stay after school to attend a Muslim studies class which parents pay for.
The ACLU says the school endorses religious practices by using state funded buses for the kids, after they've attended those religious-based classes.
"The real client in this case is the first amendment," Samuelson said. He also says the school is set to receive $3.8 million in state funding for this current school year.
"We are also suing the Department of Education for failure to supervise," Samuelson added.
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