Supreme Court Building Supreme Court 1963 - Warren Court
Supreme Court Building & The Warren Supreme Court (1963)  These are the men who banned School Prayer, and Bible reading in our public schools.  Top Row L to R: Byron R. White, William J. Brennan, Potter Stewart, Arthur J. Goldberg.   Seated L to R:   Tom C. Clark, Hugo L. Black, Earl Warren, William O. Douglas, John M. Harian  

Supreme Court Rulings on
School Prayer & Bible Reading 


 Separation of Church and State

Separation of Church & State

Justice Dept. Seal
The Establishment & Execption Clause of the First Amendment

check and balances
School Shootings increase after God is removed from our schools.

The True Story of How the Communist got Prayer Removed from Public Schools.



There are three landmark cases that changed the meaning of the First Amendment as it was previously understood and practiced in America. In these three cases a parent of a child in school petitioned the courts to stop the school from exposing their child to prayer in school and reading the Bible in school. ACLU Lawyers used Thomas Jefferson's letter in the argument for the plaintiffs. They argued that the founding fathers wanted a "wall of separation between church and State"; therefore, the government should be neutral to religion in schools, and as a result the Warren Court ruled that their would be no prayer in school or Bible reading. The court's "majority ruling" reasoned that being neutral or not favoring one religion over another was the same as not allowing religious practices in school.   

Justice Potter Stewart  

Justice Potter Stewart, the one dissenting vote blasted the ruling saying, "It led not to true neutrality with respect to religion, but to the establishment of a religion of secularism."

  (sec'u*lar*i*za'tion), n.  1. the social or political process of rejecting all forms of religious faith.  2. the elimination of any religious elements with-in public education and other civic institutions.

True neutrality would not favor one religion over another, but the court's ruling favored atheism over all the religions of the world that believe in God. Atheism has been declared a religion by the U.S. Supreme Court, so the Court did not act neutrality, but instead favoried a godless religion over all others.  A recent national poll indicated 85% of Americans believe in the existence of God, yet the court ruled with the minority, atheist.  If the Court had really been true to its intention of neutrality ; it would have been impartial to the students, by neither forcing non believers to pray, nor prohibiting believers from prayer. The court's actions were not neutral .

After the June 17, 1963 ruling the Wall Street Journal commented that atheism was now "the one belief to which the state's power will extend its protection."

Below Are the Supreme Court Cases that Altered Freedom of Religion in the Public Schools

U.S. Supreme Court case Engel v. Vitale
Hyde Park families rejoicing after Engel v, Vitale verdict

Engel v. Vitale
"The Regents School Prayer" - 1962

The New York school system had adopted a prayer to be said before the start of each day's classes. This prayer was to help promote good moral character of the students, spiritual training and help combat juvenile delinquency. The regents wrote a prayer for the schools which had to be non-sectarian or denominational. It was so bland that it became known to some religious leaders as the "to whom it may concern prayer." Here is the Regents prayer.

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

Justice Hugo Black wrote the following for the majority, "It is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers. . . the Regent's prayer are inconsistent both with the purposes of the Establishment Clause and the Establishment Clause itself."

With standard jurisprudence the Court cites previous cases in making its rulings; however, not one previous case was cited in this ruling.  Why was no other case cited?  Because, there were none which would support its decision.  For 170 years following the ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, no Court had ever struck down any prayer, in any form, in any location.  While the Court invoked no judicial precedent to sustain its decision, it did employ some strategic psychological rhetoric. Recall the Court’s comment that:

. . . these principles were so universally recognized . .

But these principles were not recognized by most Americans, and this decision caused an uproar, and Congressional hearings!  Even though the Founding fathers plainly stated that religion and morality were to be part of our society and government, the Court was not particularly interested in the Founders’ views on this subject; in fact, it openly acknowledged its contempt for America’s heritage when it remarked: [T]hat [New York] prayer seems relatively insignificant when compared to the governmental encroachments upon religion which were commonplace 200 years ago. 

The Warren Court decided to ignore the Founding Fathers intent and the Constitution and substitute the "Separation of Church and State" for the First Amendment.

Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina said, "I should like to ask whether we would be far wrong in saying that in this decision the Supreme Court has held that God is unconstitutional and for that reason the public school must be segregated against Him?"

John Bennett, dean of Union Theological Seminary wrote the following: "If the Court in the name of religious liberty tries to keep a lid on religious expression and teaching both in the public schools and also in connection with experiments that involve cooperation with public schools, it will drive all religious communities to the establishment of parochial schools, much against the will of many, and to the great detriment of public schools and probably of the quality of education." At the time there were just a handful of Protestant Schools in the country, today they number in the thousands.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Murray v. Curlett
"School Prayer" - 1963

Madalyn Murray O'Hair, a militant left wing atheist with close ties to the American Communist Party, took the school board of Baltimore to court for allowing prayer in school. The local court judge J. Gilbert Pendergast dismissed the petition stating, "It is abundantly clear that petitioners' real objective is to drive every concept of religion out of the public school system." The case went to the Maryland Court of Appeals, and the court ruled, "neither the First nor the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to stifle all rapport between religion and government."

The case was then heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Leonard Kerpelman addressed the court saying prayer in the public schools had been tolerated for so long that it had become traditional and that anything that is unconstitutional does not become constitutional through tradition. He went on to say the Constitution had erected a "wall of separation" between church and state", at which point Justice Potter Steward interrupted, asking where this wording appears. Kerpelman was stumped and an embarrassing silence followed. When he regained his composure, he stated that the text was not explicit on the point but that it had been interpreted to mean so.

Incredibly, the National Council of Churches and several Jewish organizations actually favored Madalyn O'Hair case! Not a single Christian organization filed a brief in support of school prayer, so the case went virtually uncontested before the Court. The Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in favor of abolishing school prayer and Bible reading in the public schools. Justice Tom Clark wrote, "religious freedom, it has long been recognized that government must be neutral and, while protecting all, must prefer none and disparage none." Atheism has been recognized by the federal government as a religion, and this Supreme Court ruling preferred Secular Atheism, and therefore failed to be neutral as Justice Tom Clark suggested.  

A foot note on this case:  This case was centered around Madalyn Murray O'Hair's son, William Murray.  Madalyn O'Hair was murdered in the 1990's, and her son William Murray became a Christian and is now a pastor.  He now is an advocate for school prayer, and has written an excellent book on the subject, titled: Let Us Pray, A Plea for Prayer in Our Schools.  In this book you will find a detailed account of this case.  

Read and except from his book on How the Communist removed School Prayer.

Abington Twsp v Schempp
Plaintiffs in front of the Supreme Court

Abington Township School District v. Schempp
"Bible reading in school" - 1963

The Pennsylvania school system complied with a state law requiring that ten verses of scripture be read every day. The readings were without interpretation, comment or questions asked, and any student could request to be excused. It was voluntary without coercion, and the Schempp girl never asked to be excused and even volunteered to read the Bible on occasions. (This point was not brought up when the case was before the Supreme Court.) Yet the parents brought the case to court on grounds that it was coercion.  This case came to the Supreme Court at the same time as the Murray v. Curlett case, and the court ruled on them together. After these last 2 cases were decided, the courts ruling stated that Prayer and / or Bible reading was a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment.  In so ruling the court established a secular religion for our school system, thus violating the "establishment clause" itself, which the Court was so carefully trying to protect. 

And thus the First Amendment has been completely revised with regard to religious freedom, putting the restrictions on the people and not the government. The First Amendment was written to protect the people from government interference of religious practice, but the Court violated it and turned the First Amendment on its head. 

Ten Commandments
The Posting of the Ten Commandments in classrooms was deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980. 

Stone v. Graham - 1980

The state of Kentucky had a statute which required every classroom to display the Ten Commandments. The copies of the Ten Commandments were purchased by private funding without tax payer money. The Supreme Court ruled that displaying the Ten Commandments violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. The Court cited the Lemon v. Kurtzman case which is known as the "Lemon test." The posting of the Ten Commandments seemed to serve no 'Secular Legislative' purpose, and therefore is unconstitutional. 

Majority: "This is not a case in which the Ten Commandments are integrated into the school curriculum, where the Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like. [See Abington School District v. Schempp.] Posting of religious texts on the wall serves no such educational function. If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments. However desirable this might be as a matter of private devotion, it is not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause of the Constitution."

It is very interesting that the Ten Commandments are the cornerstone of American Law. In the Ten Commandments it instructs us not to lie, cheat, steal, or kill. The Ten Commandments are posted in the Supreme Court itself, and on the front freeze of the Supreme Court is depicted Moses holding the Laws which form the basic framework of American society. So when the Court forbids  children from learning that it is wrong to lie, cheat, steal or kill, the Court is in effect promoting a lawless society totally ignorant of right and wrong. It is either foolhardy or just plain evil to do so.   

As William J. Murray, the student in Murray v. Curlett school prayer case, writes in his book " Let Us Pray ", "The  original First Amendment guarantee to every citizen, of the right to free religious expression without consequence or state interference, was transformed.  This remarkable process, which took many years and many court decisions, turned the First Amendment inside out. "  

Culture War - Cultural War
Cultural War Web Site  
Learn about  the ideas that divide
America.  What are the ideas and where did they come from?

  Last Update Feb. 2018