Classroom silence bill proposed

Friday, November 16, 2001

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Taking their cue from the U.S. Supreme Court, some state lawmakers are backing proposed legislation that would allow public school districts to require 60 seconds of silence before classes begin each day.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month turned away a challenge to Virginia's mandatory minute of silence in schools, which prompted Rep. Phil Willoughby, D-Gladstone, to craft the Missouri proposal.

Willoughby, the chief sponsor of the proposal and an ordained Christian minister, said Thursday that religion was not the focus of the legislation.

"This legislation will allow students to have silent reflection," Willoughby said. "During the 60 seconds, students would be free to meditate, reflect on the day's upcoming events, or pray if they wish."

The Missouri bill would not mandate that school districts require a silent period nor would it specify that the time be used for prayer, Willoughby said.

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