If State Senator Jeff Rabon gets his way, Oklahoma public school students will soon be observing a moment of silence in their classroom each day.
The Hugo legislator has filed a bill that would require public school administrators to set aside a minute of silence each day for prayer, meditation or reflection. He is currently working with Attorney General Drew Edmondson to review the bill's language to make sure it passes legal muster.
"I think our school kids should be given a moment of silence each day, whether it's to say a prayer or just to meditate. I don't see how anyone could object to a simple moment of reflection," said Senator Rabon.
The southeastern Oklahoma legislator said he is seeking assistance from the Attorney General because he wants to make sure that the legislation will survive any type of legal challenge that may ultimately be filed against it.
"I would hate to pass a law like this only to see it overturned after a costly legal battle. If we have the Attorney General's input up front, we can lessen the possibility of lawsuits in the future," said Senator Rabon.
"General Edmondson and I have already discussed the legislation and he's offered some good suggestions for improving the bill."
The lawmaker noted that he first drafted and attempted to pass "moment of silence" language last session in the form of an amendment, but was unable to find a vehicle for the proposal in the final days of the Legislature's regular meeting period. He is optimistic that the measure will pass this year, however, in part because of a shift in attitudes in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
"I've always thought a moment of silence would be a good idea in the public schools, but after September 11th, I think it's even more appropriate. People who used to take a lot of things for granted are in a more somber, reflective mood now. I know both children and adults have been asking themselves a lot of questions about the future of the world we live in and moment of prayer or reflection might help them find the answers that they are seeking. I think everyone would benefit from a moment of prayer or reflection," he said.
The legislation is similar to a Virginia law that required public school students there to engage in a moment of silence. Opponents of school prayer recently challenged the state law's constitutionality, but it was upheld when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a lower federal court ruling in support of the statute.
Senator Rabon's measure has been filed for consideration during the 2002 legislative session that convenes in February. Representative Randall Erwin of Nashoba will serve as House author of the bill.