U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman
For ruling against the Illinios Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman is inducted into our Hall of Shame. Siding with talk show host and outspoken atheist Rob Sherman, who filed suit on behalf of his daughter, Gettleman said in his January 21, 2009 ruling, The statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion. The law, passed by the Illinois General Assembly, allowed students to pray without distraction or simply reflect on the day’s activities. Students were not forced to pray or told how to direct their thoughts during the moments of silence. Yet the federal judge criticized the statute’s introduction of the concept of prayer into the schools, claiming it crossed the line separating church and state. Gettleman’s ruling constitutes yet another attempt by secular activists to undermine freedom of religion and religious expression. His opinion serves to ensure freedom from religion, which contradicts values cherished by our country’s founding fathers. Worse, his judicial opinion sends a message that God doesn’t belong in the lives of our youth at school, that it is unacceptable to express religious faith in secular settings.