(CN) – An Illinois state law requiring a moment of silence in public schools is unconstitutional because it crossed the line between church and state, a federal judge in Chicago ruled.
U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman ruled in favor of talk show host Rob Sherman, an outspoken atheist, and his daughter Dawn, a student at Buffalo Grove High School in suburban Chicago.
The law’s supporters claimed that the law allowed students to reflect on the day’s activities rather than pray if they chose, and therefore did not force religion on anyone.
Gettleman sided with the critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued that it was a thinly disguised attempt to bring religion into public schools.
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,'” Gettleman wrote. “The plain language of the statute, therefore, suggests and intent to force the introduction of the concept of prayer into the schools.”