Many traditions had developed within American culture that breached this wall ofseparation. For example, our coins have “In God We Trust” printed intothem, The Pledge of Allegiance still contains the phrase “under God,”and many of our governmental ceremonies have prayer as their opening activity. For years, many public school districts mandated that the school day begin withsome sort of prayer. The first case to come to the Supreme Court regardingschool prayer was that of Engel v.
Vitale in 1961. A group of ten parents suedthe Board of Education of Union Free School District No. 9 in Hyde Park, NewYork for having the following prayer said aloud in the presence of a teacherevery day: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we begThy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our Country. ” Theprayer was composed by the New York State Board of Regents, which is a stateagency, and which had broad supervisory powers over the state’s public schools.Order now
The prayer was part of the Regents’ “Statement on Moral and SpiritualTraining In The Schools. ” A class action was brought by a set of tenparents who felt the prayer was contrary to the religious practices of both theparents and the students, and they maintained that the state’s use of thisprayer violated that part of the Federal Constitution that states “Congressshall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. ” This clausewas made applicable to state law by the Fourteenth Amendment to theConstitution. The lower courts that heard the case upheld the power of New Yorkto allow the prayer to be said each day as long as no student was forced toparticipate or if the student was compelled to do so over the parents’objection. BibliographySelected Historic Decisions of the U. S.
Supreme Court – http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/historic.htmRead about how school prayer played a role in the 1996 election at EducationWeek On The Web: http://www.edweek.org/context/election/prayer.htmMythology