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Moment of Silence and School Prayer

States with Moment of Silence or School Prayer Legislation

THIS DOCUMENT IS MAINTAINED ON THE NCSL WEBSITE FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES. THE INFORMATION IS CURRENT AS OF THE DATE BELOW, AND THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT BEING UPDATED.

Last updated: 2008
State Citation Summary Date Enacted
AL Ala. Code § 16-1-20.4 At the start of each day, teachers must conduct a brief period of quiet reflection, for not more than 1 minute. 1998
AR Ark. Code Ann. § 6-10-115 A teacher may, or if so directed by the district board of directors, shall, conduct a brief period of silence at the start of each day with the participation of all students who desire to do so. (AR, IN, KS, NY and PA statutes are similar.) 1995
AZ Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 15-342 School district governing board may require a period of silence not longer than 1 minute to be observed at the start of each day. 1999
CT Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-16a Each local or regional board of education shall provide an opportunity to observe a silent time of meditation to those teachers and students who desire it. Unknown
DE Del. Code Ann. tit. 14, § 4101A At the start of each day, all students may be granted a period of silence, not more than 2 minutes long, to be used “according to the dictates of the individual conscience of each student.” Unknown
FL West's F.S.A. § 1003.45 The school board may require that a period no longer than 2 minutes be set aside for silent prayer or meditation. Unknown
GA GA. Code Ann. § 20-2-1050 Teachers must conduct a period of reflection for not more than 1 minute each school day. 1994
IL 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. 20/1 Teachers shall observe a period of silence for silent prayer or reflection on the anticipated activities of the day. 2007
IN IC 20-30-5-4.5 Each teacher may, or if so directed by his or her governing body, shall, conduct a brief period of silent prayer or meditation. “This prayer or meditation is not a religious service exercise, but is an opportunity for silent prayer or meditation on a religious theme or a moment for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day.” (AR, IN, KS, NY and PA statutes are similar.) Unknown
KS Kan. Stat. Ann. § 72-5308a Teachers may observe a brief period of silence at the start of each day. This period shall not be conducted as a religious exercise, but shall be an opportunity for silent prayer or “silent reflections on the anticipated activities of the day.” (AR, IN, KS, NY and PA statutes are similar.) Unknown
KY Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 158.175 Teachers may conduct a period of silence or reflection not to exceed 1 minute.  District boards of education may authorize the voluntary recitation of the traditional Lord’s prayer and the pledge of allegiance in elementary schools. Pupils shall be informed that these exercises are not meant to influence an individual’s personal religious beliefs. The exercises shall be conducted so that pupils shall learn of our great freedoms, including the freedom of religion….” (Similar to NH.) 1996
  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 158.183 Except where it would “otherwise infringe on the rights of other persons,” students may pray in a public school, vocally or silently, express religious viewpoints, in school or to other students, and distribute religious literature, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. 1998
LA La. Rev. Stat. § 11:2115 Each parish and city school board shall allow school authorities to allow students and teachers to observe a brief time of prayer or meditation. Unknown
MA Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71, § 1A Each day, every teacher must announce a period of silence not to exceed 1 minute for personal thoughts. 1985
MD Md. Code Ann., Education § 7-104 Principals and teachers may require all students to meditate silently for about 1 minute each day. During this time, a student or teacher may “read the holy scripture or pray.” 1978
ME Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A § 4805 The school board may require teachers to hold a period of silence for reflection each school day. Unknown
MI Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1565 The board of education of a district may “provide the opportunity during each school day to allow students who wish to do so, the opportunity to observe time in silent meditation.” 1997
MS Miss. Rev. Stat.§ 37-13-4 Teachers or school administrators may allow students or others to participate voluntarily in prayer. 1994
MT Mont. Code Ann. § 20-7-112 Instruction may not be given advocating sectarian or denominational doctrines. However, any teacher or principal may open the school day with a prayer. 1989
NC N.C. Gen. Stat.§ 115C-47 Local boards of education have the authority to authorize the observance of a moment of silence, not to exceed 1 minute, at the start of class each morning. 1999
ND N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-19-03.1 Teachers may require students to observe a period of silence for meditation for up to 1 minute at the beginning of each workday. 1999
NE Nev. Rev. Stat. § 388.075 Every district must set aside a period of silence at the start of every day for voluntary individual meditation, prayer or reflection. 1977
NH N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 189:1-b On each school day, a period of not more than 5 minutes shall be available to those who “wish to exercise their right to freedom of assembly and participate voluntarily in the free exercise of religion.” 1977
  N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 194:15-a School districts may authorize the reciting of the traditional Lord’s prayer. Student participation is voluntary. “Pupils shall be reminded that this prayer is the prayer our pilgrim fathers recited when they came to this country in their search for freedom.” (Similar to KY.) 1975
NJ N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:36-4 Principals and teachers shall permit students to observe a 1 minute period of silence to be used solely at the discretion of the individual student, before the start of each school day. Unknown
NM N.M. Stat. Ann. § 22-27-3 Students may voluntarily engage in student-initiated moments of silent meditation. 1995
NY N.Y. Educ. Law § 3029-a Teachers may, or if so directed by the board of education, shall, conduct a brief period of silent meditation at the start of each day, with the participation of all students there assembled. (AR, IN, KS, NY and PA statutes are similar.) 1971
OH Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3313.601 No board may prohibit a teacher from providing a reasonable period of time for programs or meditation on moral, philosophical or patriotic themes. No pupil shall be required to participate in such if such programs or meditation are contrary to the religious beliefs of the pupil or parents or guardians. 1969
OK Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 11-101.1 The board of education in each district shall permit those students and teachers who wish to do so to participate in voluntary prayer. 1971
PA 24 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 15-1516.1 Teachers may, or if so directed by the board of education, shall, conduct a brief period of silent prayer or meditation with the participation of all pupils therein assembled. (AR, IN, KS, NY and PA statutes are similar.) Unknown
RI R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-12-3.1 At the opening of school each day, teachers must announce a period of silence not more than 1 minute. 1977
SC S.C. Code Ann. § 59-1-443 Schools shall provide 1 minute of mandatory silence at the beginning of each school day. 1995
TN Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1004 Each grade in public schools shall maintain a period of silence approximately 1 minute long “in order for all students and teachers to prepare themselves for the activities of the day.” Teachers may permit students or others to participate in voluntary prayer. 1993
TX Tex. Educ Code Ann § 25.082  The board of trustees of each school district shall
provide for the observance of one minute of silence at each school  in the district following the recitation of the pledges of
allegiance to the United States and Texas flags…
2003
UT Utah Code Ann. § 53A-11-901.5 A teacher may provide for the observation of a period of silence each day. 1996
VA Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-203 Requires school boards to establish daily moments of silence for meditation, prayer or other silent activity in every classroom in the public schools of Virginia.  No other activities may be allowed during this time.  The Office of the Attorney General must provide legal counsel for the defense of this law.   2000
WV W. Va. Const. Art. III, § 15a Public schools shall provide a designated time at the start of each school day for any student so desiring to exercise their right to personal and private contemplation, meditation or prayer.  Held unconstitutional, Walter v. West Virginia Bd. of Educ., 610 F. Supp. 1169 (S.D.W. 1985). 1984
    Compiled from NCSL Education Bill Tracking database and ECS StateNotes July 2000; http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/13/38/1338.htm  
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