SOCIETY OF SEPARATIONISTS, INC. Chris Allen, Utah Representative February 7, 1995 Comments

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SOCIETY OF SEPARATIONISTS, INC. Chris Allen, Utah Representative February 7, 1995 Comments on SB-140, "MINUTE OF SILENCE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS" to Senate Education Committee, Utah Legislature State Capitol, Room 416 at 8:00 A.M. today* The Society of Separationists is opposed to this bill because it is designed to use the schools to promote prayer. If passed into law, every teacher and student will know that this is just a phony substitute for organized school prayer. Whether stated or not, the purpose of this bill is to encourage a form of religious worship, and that is a threat to our religious freedom. Even those who like the idea of a government endorsed prayer should consider that silent prayer is a particular type of worship, and that this law conveys the notion that _the_State_ should decide when and how to pray. Do you really want to teach our children that our government has that authority? Is that your idea of religious freedom? The prohibition in section 3 of the bill banning all other activity during the minute of silence is obviously intended to force all students to show reverence for the prayers of others. That makes this a BULLY BILL. Its passage will certify Utah as a state of religious bullies, using its schools to impose religious worship on all students. What are you going to do to a student or teach who refuses to cooperate with this law? What will you do to a student who chooses to read, or write our out their homework during the minute of silence? You're supposed to be helping the schools teach literacy. Think how ridiculous it will look to pass a _law_ telling students they _can't_ read or write in school for one minute. Whether it is for prayer or not, this law intrudes into the professional responsibilities of Utah teachers and micromanages how they structure their classes. Remember this is Utah and the schools are already plagued with religious division. THink how it will reflect on this state when someone is disciplined by the schools for refusing to meditate. Are you ready for the confrontations on Oprah and Donahue? Imagine the questions that will be explored about what it is like to go to school in Utah, where every high school has an LDS [Latter-Day Saints] seminary attached. Is this the image you want for Utah schools? I think you better rethink this one very carefully. You're just asking for a lot of trouble, and considering the way Proposition 3 was voted done last November, I do not think the people are behind you on this one. I do not think you are even closed to a consensus on this among the voters. *(SB-140 is last on the agenda, and there is a chance that it will not be addressed on this date.) **************************************************** The national office of the Society of Separationists may be reached at: P O Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768-2117. Founded in 1963 to work for state/church separation and the civil rights of Atheists, the Society is affiliated with the American Atheist General Headquarters, Inc. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************

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