Top Five Court Cases That Changed Religion in School
Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:09 AM

by Jeremy Wiggins

Did you ever wonder when it was that God was kicked out of the public school system? It isn't hard to find. All you have to do is look up some of the cases that have appeared, over the years, at the chambers of the United States Supreme Court.  There are many cases in which the Supreme Court has taken the First Amendment right of freedom of religion, and placed that against the often misinterpreted Establishment Clause, which states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Liberal groups, such as the ACLU, have taken this to mean that there should be no intermingling with religion and government at all, which completely undermines the spirit that the founding fathers wrote the constitution. But because of these groups, and liberal judges, they have continued to whittle away at religious, mostly Christian, freedoms. For this week’s Five Pick, here are five court cases that changed religion in school. reports the facts.


#1 - McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. 71 (1948)


 In 1940, members of differing faiths got together in Champaign, Illinois and formed a group called the Champaign Council on Religious Education. This group offered voluntary religious instruction during public school hours to students. Students who did not want to receive religious studies were sent to another classroom to continue their secular studies. The Court found that the use of tax-supported property for religious instruction violated the establishment clause. Because pupils were required to attend school, the court found that it was special treatment for pupils to receive religious education instead of secular education, and was therefore unconstitutional.



#2  - Engel v. Vitale (1962)


The Board of Regents for New York State authorized a short prayer at the start of each school day. At its most simplest form, the invocations acknowledged God and our dependence on Him, and asked for His blessings. Mind you, this prayer is non-denominational in the fact that it only invokes God's name. The court found this unconstitutional because by providing the prayer, New York officially approved religion. This was the first case on the road to eliminating prayer from school.


#3 -  Abington School District v. Schempp


This comes from Pennsylvania public schools. At the beginning of each day students were required to read at least ten verses from the bible. After this, the students would then recite the Lord's Prayer. Students could be excused from any of these activities with a written note from their parents. The court found that the required activities from the school system were unconstitutional, and were essentially religious ceremonies and were "intended by the State to be so." Also, even though a parent could excuse a student from these activities, it was irrelevant since the school was still violating the establishment clause.


#4 - Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)


This came from three court cases all heard at the same time. The cases involved laws in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. In Pennsylvania, there was a statute that provided financial support for teacher salaries, textbooks, and instructional materials for secular subject to non-public schools. In Rhode Island, a statute provided direct supplemental salary payments to teachers in private elementary schools. The Court's decision in this case would set the precedent for future separation of church and state cases. o be constitutional, a statute must have "a secular legislative purpose," it must have principal effects which neither advance nor inhibit religion, and it must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion." The Court found that the subsidization of parochial schools furthered a process of religious inculcation, and that the "continuing state surveillance" necessary to enforce the specific provisions of the laws would inevitably entangle the state in religious affairs.


#5 - Lee v. Weisman (1992)


It was a tradition at some schools in Providence, Ri to invite a rabbi to speak at different schools graduation ceremony. The rabbi would offer a non denominational prayer at the ceremony. Daniel Weisman filed a temporary restraining order against the rabbi to prevent his daughter to have to hear the prayer. The order was denied, and Weisman took his case to the Supreme Court. The Court found that the government involvement in the case created "a state-sponsored and state-directed religious exercise in a public school." In a nutshell, no prayer at graduation ceremonies.



It isn't very hard to find other examples almost on a weekly basis of students, or teachers, or staff at public schools being persecuted for offering prayer, or even inciting the name of Jesus. These examples are just the cornerstone for what is happening in schools today. I would like to leave you with some food for thought though. Look at the timeline of the downturn of the public education system. Look at the upturn of violent crime. I propose to you that there is a direct correlation between the removal of God in the school system and these events, and that these events will continue to happen as long as we keep trying to remove God from every aspect of America.