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50 Years Ago Today, the Supreme Court Declared That Prayer in Public School was Unconstitutional

Posted by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM
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1 mom liked this

 

50 Years Ago Today, the Supreme Court Declared That Prayer in Public School was Unconstitutional

At some point today, atheists everywhere ought to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a major Supreme Court decision - Engel v. Vitale - that helped get prayer out of public schools.

Back then, a school district in New York had students recite this prayer (voluntarily) at the beginning of each school day:

"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country."

A group of families sued, saying this amounted to government endorsement of faith. The case made it to the Supreme Court, which had to grapple with a question many couldn't even believe was being asked:

Does the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the school day violate the "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment?

The Court said "Yes it does" and the prayer was declared unconstitutional by a vote of 6-1.

That case turned out to be the basis for several other major decisions. In fact, thanks to the result in Engel, we no longer have moments of silent prayer and ministers can't speak at your public school's graduation. (Of course, we still have issues with the generic moment of silence and we've seen student-led prayers at graduations... but back then, it was more explicit promotion of prayer.)

A year later, the Court also ruled that school-sanctioned Bible readings were also unconstitutional in public schools.

Happy 50th!

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM
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Replies (1-10):
ashellbell
by shellbark on Jun. 25, 2012 at 7:37 PM
5 moms liked this
Happy 50th!!
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romalove
by Roma on Jun. 25, 2012 at 7:37 PM

 Thanks for the reminder.  :-)

 

LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Jun. 25, 2012 at 7:55 PM

 Happy Golden Anniversary.

muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Jun. 25, 2012 at 7:56 PM
9 moms liked this

Clarification: State sanctioned prayer, not prayer in and of itself. :-)

TCgirlatheart
by TC on Jun. 25, 2012 at 7:59 PM
2 moms liked this
OK, everyone bookmark this post for this year's "War on Christmas". ;)

Happy 50thy fellow Americans!!
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_Kissy_
by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 8:00 PM
5 moms liked this
Back when the supreme court ruled with a conscience, not dollar signs.
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mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Jun. 25, 2012 at 8:04 PM
1 mom liked this

Can we say in the almighty god and goddess - how about to the almighty Pan or Ganeshe or Osiris or Odin. Or do you think we should only pray to your god.

Thank you for the reminder. I truly believe our schools are better for not enforcing prayer to the christian god.

sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Jun. 25, 2012 at 8:06 PM
Happy 50th!
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grandmab125
by Gold Member on Jun. 25, 2012 at 10:06 PM

This decision stated that it was unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools.  Apparently the state of NY had a state prayer that schools had the kids recite each morning, which started out "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee,......". 

I grew up in NJ, and we didn't have any state prayer.  In grade school, a student would read a verse from the Bible, then we would all say the Lord's Prayer (or not), and say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I have never heard of a state writing a prayer and requiring the children to say it every day.

The following year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Madelyn O'Hair in banning all reading from the Bible, also, at schools.  She founded the American Atheists group.

 

Grainia
by Member on Jun. 26, 2012 at 11:32 AM
8 moms liked this

Not only Atheists are celebrating.

clapping

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