A while ago I read a great blog post by Amanda over at Musings from a Misfit Named Amanda regarding Christians who think they are being persecuted and prayer in school among other topics. Amanda was recounting an online conversation she had with a person who believes a moment of silence is a compromise for those people who do not want public prayer. That person wrote, “That’s why I say having a few moments of silence is the best option-those who want to pray can pray quietly, and those who don’t can simply reflect on the situation, or whatever they choose to do. If it’s silent, everyone can do what they want w/o bothering others :)  It won’t kill anyone to be quiet for a few moments lol-both sides should just respect the other’s rights, even if their beliefs r different, is what I’m getting at…”

This stuck with me for quite some time, getting me angrier and angrier until finally I felt the need to post my opinion.

As an atheist, I am entirely opposed to forced public prayer, whether it be in schools, or any other public forum (unless, of course it is in the confines of a church/mosque/temple with other, like-minded individuals.) But, at the risk of stating an unpopular opinion, I am also against a forced/organized/national “moment of silence”. For example, to commemorate a tragic event like the events of September 11th, 2001, I think a moment of silence is insulting. Insulting to all of the people who rushed to ground zero to save survivors and dig bodies out of the rubble and debris. Insulting to all those who lost loved ones in the attacks. Insulting to all the people who are now suffering from Cancer and other deadly diseases as a result of actively helping rescue others from the wreckage. These people could still use financial and legislative help. My suggestion is, instead of using a ‘moment of silence’ to bow your head and look sad and thoughtful, why not use it to write a check to a first responders charity… or a letter to the Federal Government, demanding that insurers cover the ailments of first responders and area residents. If more people had gone that route, perhaps it would not have taken 11 years before the President officially recognized the need to financially compensate these people.

Is it just me, or does a ‘Moment of Silence’ look an awful lot like prayer? To me it’s a lot of pomp and circumstance accomplishing absolutely nothing. Perhaps people should remember the words of Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  and actually do something to help others instead of just stand there doing nothing.