I am an atheist and I also believe that religion has likely caused or facilitated more horror than any other social ill. However, I have long advocated FOR allowing students to take a moment of silence precisely because it is more in line with the constitution. Note that the words "Separation of church and state" are not in the constitution. It simply says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." To disallow students from taking a moment of silence - to pray if they want to - is definitely "prohibiting the free exercise" of their religion.
I don't know if REQUIRING that moment of silence is the proper solution. But if you don't give students at least some time to pray before events for which their religion would normally dictate that they pray, then you are "prohibiting the free exercise" of their religion. As long as the students don't abuse the right to the point that it is truly disruptive, and there is no discrimination against those who do something other than pray during this time, then I see no problem with it. Students who tease others who don't pray should be sued for violation of their civil rights.
Atheists going to the Supreme Court to stop children from exercising their religion is just as bad the Christian right trying to pass laws based only upon their own beliefs.
The contents of this post is Copyright © 2011 by Grant Sheridan Robertson.