Engel V Vitale

650 Words3 Pages

On June 25, 1962, a Supreme Court case, Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, was decided. The lawsuit was brought to the United States Supreme Court by parents (of students who attended schools in the Herricks School District) who complained that a nondenominational prayer instituted by the New York Board of Regents in their district was unconstitutional. The parents argued that the prayer, although optional, violated their First Amendment Rights. When the 6-1 (two justices did not vote) decision was made, it was ruled that voluntary prayer in public schools violates the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. One concurring opinion was given, and the single judge that did not vote the same as the rest provided …show more content…

In 1951, the following prayer was written that was intended to be recited each morning as part of the regents’ Statement of Moral and Spiritual Training in the Schools: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.” Because the regents made the recitation of the prayer each day entirely optional to the school boards and the individual families of students, many New York school districts shunned the prayer because of their eclectic student bodies. Not only was the state religiously and ethnically diverse, but religious instruction in state schools was declared unconstitutional by the 1948 Supreme Court decision in the McCollum vs. Board of Education case. Because of the constantly increasing controversy about religious teaching in public schools, at least 90% of New York districts were not using the prayer by the late 1950s. Then, in 1958, five parents (of varying religions and ethnicities) of students within the district filed a lawsuit to stop the use of the prayer in their schools. The families believed, even though the students could be individually excused from the recitation, that the difficulty of being granted permission to be excused from the room during the regents’ prayer made the recitation feel extremely obligatory. Furthermore, they said the prayer certainly violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the

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