National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1955-1969: We demand liberty and justice for all

June 26, 1962
The Supreme Court bans New York State school prayer

Children praying in school

&#8220Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.&#8221
–New York State school prayer

Freedom of religion is back in the news. And yesterday’s Supreme Court decision has met with a firestorm of protest.

In Engel v. Vitale, New York State school officials argued that the prayer schoolchildren must say each morning is nondenominational; it doesn’t attempt to “establish or endorse” a religion, and children can opt out of it.

Twenty-two states supported New York, but the Court didn’t. Ruling against the school district, it says that a school-written or teacher-led prayer is contrary to the First Amendment ban against the establishment of religion.

Faith, says the Court, is “too personal, too sacred, too holy” for the government to impose.

Read about it in the New York times

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