Engel v. Vitale
A Supreme Court Case
Engel, a Jewish citizen, was upset because the public school systems in New York required all students to say a nondenominational prayer, even though they didn’t follow that religion. The prayer was, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.” He and other parents sued Vitale claiming that the New York state board of education was violating the first amendment, freedom of religion, and the fourteenth amendment, the natural rights of citizens. Courts used the establishment clause in rulings for the Engel vs. Vital case. The court ruled “…state officials may not compose an official state prayer and require that it be recited at public schools of the state at the beginning of each school day.” This is a precedent of more cases like this one.
This case first argued on April 3, 1962. The argument for the parents was “The separation of church and state requires that government stay out of the business of prescribing religious activities of any kind. The Regents' prayer quite simply and clearly violated the 1st Amendment and should, therefore, be barred from the schools.”external image 51n1Sxh4hBL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg
The defending statement for the Regents of the state of New York was “The New York Regents did not establish a religion by providing a prayer for those who wanted to say it. Countless religious elements are associated with governments and officials, reflecting the religious heritage of the nation.”
On June 25, 1962, the Supreme Court voted in favor of Engel, 6-1, and that it was against the constitution to enforce a certain religious prayer in a public school. Many parents were upset that the prayer got taken out. The Judges present were:
1. Judges voting for Engel
§ Earl Warren (chief justice)
§ Hugo L. Black
§ Tom C. Clark
§ John M. Harlan
§ William J. Brennan
§ William O. Douglas
2. Judges voting for Vitale
§ Potter Stewart
This case is the reason why we are not required to say any religious prayers in school.