Federal Court Upholds Texas Moment of Silence Law, Allowing Students to Pray or Meditate

Texas schoolchildren will continue to pray or meditate during a daily minute of silence after a federal court threw out a challenge to the state law.

The ruling issued Thursday stems from a complaint by a North Texas couple who say one of their children was told by an elementary school teacher to keep quiet because the minute is a "time for prayer."

The complaint filed in 2006 by David and Shannon Croft names Gov. Rick Perry and the suburban Dallas school district the Crofts' three children attend.

The 2003 law allows children to "reflect, pray, meditate or engage in any other silent activities" for one minute at the beginning of each school day.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn upheld the constitutionality of the law, concluding that "the primary effect of the statute is to institute a moment of silence, not to advance or inhibit religion."

Neither the Crofts nor their attorney, Dean Cook, returned calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Perry said justice was served in the ruling. "Whether schoolchildren use their morning moment of silence to pray or to prepare for a pop quiz, tolerance and personal freedom are lessons that should be taught and exercised regardless of our environment," the governor said.

Lisa Graybill, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said even though Lynn found the language of the law neutral on religion, "we know that that intent (to put prayer back in school) is manifest in school districts across the state. We receive those kinds of complaints on a constant basis."

"Judge Lynn clearly carefully examined the legislative history," Graybill said. "We disagree with the outcome, but the judge herself said it's a difficult and close question."