Separation Of Church and State

Presently in America there are serious concern about issues dealing with
the church and the state. The main issue is the separation of church and state
within the United States, dealing with predominantly with the First Amendment
and how Americans respond to this amendment. Throughout history, there have
been many court cases dealing with the separation of church and state. The
Engel vs. Vitale court case also deals with the First Amendment and, the on,
that I will address the case of Engel versus Vitale. The First Amendment is of
a great importance to the American people because it describes there freedom
that they have.
The court case of Engel versus Vitale went all the way to the Supreme Court
whose verdict came to be an overruling of the district court. This case dealt
with the public school district of New Hyde Park, New York. The problem in this
case was that school officials were allowing a school prayer at the beginning of
the day. A main political issue within public schools involves the First
Amendment, how the school system enforces certain things and how schools can get
around the separation between church and state. The First Amendment is being
violated by allowing public officials(teachers) to direct prayer in schools.
The reason that this is a violation is because prayer, bible readings and
moments of silence are prohibited in public school systems.
The First Amendment has many different interpretations that people are
attaching to it. People took this amendment to mean that the government was not
intended to be banned from assisting religion or was intended to be erased from
public or government officials.
The Supreme Court case off 1962, Engel versus Vitale, was a case about
whether prayer should or should not be allowed in public schools. The argument
is drawn from the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment. The Board of
Directors of the school district of New Hyde, New York held firm to the prayer
they wanted to say at the beginning of school which follows: “Almighty God, we
acknowledge our dependence upon thee, and we beg thy blessing upon us, our
parents, our teachers and our country(370 U.S. Sec. 421).”
This brief prayer is known as the Regent Prayer.
Ten pupils of the public school asked if this prayer was against their
beliefs, and those that their parents instilled in them. Their parents felt the
prayer was a violation of the First Amendment statement “Congress shall make no
law respecting on establishment of religion.” The courts of appeal ordered that
New York had a right to say the Regent Prayer because it did not compel students
to join in on the prayer, and because the prayer was completely optional. This
ruling was protected by the rights of the First Amendment and the Fourteenth
The parents of those pupils believe that the Regent Prayer is a violation
of the establishment clause. This prayer is seen by government officials as
trying to further religious beliefs. The Regent Prayer is viewed by the parents
as breaching the constitutional will of separation of church and state. The
state is bringing up the point that what is happening now is miner compared to
what happen 200 years ago. In every court hearing and every Senate or House
meeting there seems to be a small prayer said. The state is trying to compare a
teacher saying a short nondenominational prayer to the prayer that courts and
government meetings have. Parents are saying that everyone in the presence of
prayer is a captive audience. “Church and religion shall live both and upon
that freedom. There cannot be freedom of religion, safeguard by the state, and
intervention by the church or its agencies in the state\'s domain or dependency
on its largesse(370 U.S. sec. 421).”
Mr. Justice Stewart overturned the ruling of the previous court which let
the public schools in New York continue to say this brief prayer. He thought
the district courts had made a wrong decision. The court is stating that a
teacher cannot promote the saying of a prayer, but anyone wanting to pray in a
public school has a right to do so. The government today cannot force a group
of Americans to take part in any subject dealing with religion. Examples of
this are the Star-Spangled Banner, pledge of allegiance, and prayer.
The ruling of the Supreme Court was fair because it followed what the
constitution said, despite the fact that the Regent Prayer is completely
optional for the students to say or not. But the point being made