Ray Carter | June 22, 2023
Minute of silence recommended for Oklahoma schools
Endorsing a recommendation drafted by a special committee that reviewed the role of religion in schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters is encouraging schools to begin each day with a minute of silence in which students can pray if they so desire.
“The current national left-wing indoctrination is attempting to destroy religion as a way to destroy our entire country,” Walters said. “This report provides a very thorough and well-thought out series of recommendations that I have heard from the public time and time again.”
After his election, Walters said he was approached by citizens who wanted him to review the role of faith in the school setting. In response, he created an Oklahoma Advisory Committee on Founding Principles. That group’s recommendations were announced during the June meeting of the State Board of Education.
The committee made three recommendations.
First, the group called for the state to bolster existing law that allows students to voluntarily pray in school by providing for a full minute of silence at the start of each school day.
Prior to the minute of silence, the committee called for school officials to announce the purpose of the minute of silence by saying, “We now pause for a minute of silence in which students and teachers may use this minute to reflect, mediate, pray, or engage in any other silent activity.”
The committee also recommended that schools display a copy of the Ten Commandments in a public location and called for Oklahoma students to be required to complete a course in Western Civilization as a requirement for graduation.
“Implementing these recommendations will help maintain a society of free, virtuous, and flourishing citizens,” the committee’s report stated.
Walters endorsed the minute of silence during the board meeting, saying a string of U.S. Supreme Court rulings starting during the court’s activist years in the 1960s have stripped traditional religion from school settings and replaced it with another belief system.
“A long history of Supreme Court positions have created, in fact, a state-sponsored religion: atheism,” Walters said. “Atheism is now the de facto and sponsored religion, and it is indefensible in a place like Oklahoma that we would allow this to happen.”
Director, Center for Independent Journalism
Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.