Date of Award


Degree Name

Political Science


College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Thomas C. Shevory

Second Advisor

Robert F. Maddox


On March 10, 1984, the West Virginia Legislature adopted a proposed state constitutional amendment, designated as Committee Substitute for Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR 1), which required the following:

Public schools shall provide a designated brief time at the beginning of each school day for any student desiring to exercise their right to personal and private contemplation, meditation or prayer. No student of a public school may be denied the right to personal and private contemplation, meditation or prayer nor shall any student be required or encouraged to engage in any given contemplation, meditation or prayer as a part of the school curriculum.

On November 6, 1984 the voters of the state ratified the amendment. In December of that year, the election results having been certified by the Secretary of State, the proposal was adopted as Section 15-A of the state constitution.

The First Amendment requires that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…. ” The Supreme Court has determined that the religious restrictions of the First Amendment must be adhered to by the states due to the requirement in the Fourteenth that no “…State (shall) deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law….” It is the contention of this thesis that West Virginia’s "Voluntary Comtemplation, Meditation or Prayer in School Amendment” and other moment of silence statutes of a similar nature are a breach in the “wall of separation between church and state.”


Prayer in the public schools – Law and legislation – West Virginia.