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Religion in the Schools


Source: Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Religion in the Schools

Religion in the Schools
  • The Decisions of the Supreme Court

  • Congress shall make no law respecting an
    establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
    free exercise thereof
  • -The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of
    The U.S. Constitution

Engel v. Vitale (1962)
  • Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon
    Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our
    parents, our teachers and our Country.

Question Is it unconstitutional to, as
stipulated by the State Board of Regents (NY),
require the above prayer to be recited aloud by
each class in the presence of a teacher at the
beginning of each school day?
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
  • Points to Consider
  • Atheists believe in no God
  • Agnostics are unsure of the presence of God
  • The prayer recognizes one God many religions are
  • 22 State Attorney Generals wrote to the Supreme
    Court in favor of the prayer
  • Board had the following regulation "Neither
    teachers nor any school authority shall comment
    on participation or nonparticipation...nor
    suggest or request that any posture or language
    be used or dress be worn or be not used or not
  • The NY State Court and NY Court of Appeals sided
    with the school district when the parents of ten
    students filed a lawsuit

Engel v. Vitale (1962)
  • What effect will the Supreme Courts Decision
  • Rule against this prayer and make all prayer in
    school unconstitutional
  • Rule for this prayer and close the doors on
    future school prayer cases

Engel v. Vitale (1962)
The Decision
  • With a 6-1 vote, it was deemed unconstitutional
    to have school-sponsored prayer.
  • However, students are not prohibited from praying
    in school, such as before meals or before/after

Source http//
Abington School District v. SchemppMurray v.
  • In 1963, these two cases were decided together
    with an 8-1 vote. They established the
  • Reading the Lords Prayer or verses of the Bible
    in school is unconstitutional
  • Even if prayer is voluntary, it still violates
    the establishment clause
  • to withstand the structures of the
    Establishment Clause there must be a secular
    legislative purpose and a primary effect that
    neither advances nor inhibits religion.
  • Sources http//
  • http//

McCollum v. Bd. Of Ed. (1948)
  • School allowed time for classes in one of many
  • Attendance was taken and given to teachers
  • Students needed parental permission to
  • Students not participating could not take an
    academic class, as to not get ahead of religious

McCollum v. Bd. Of Ed. (1948)
With a 6-1 vote, these classes were deemed
  • Tax-funded schools were aiding in the spread of
  • Students became a captive audience for clergy,
    as they were forced to remain in school during
    these classes.
  • Source http//

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe
  • Prayer said over P.A. before varsity football
  • While suit was pending, students held two
    elections They voted to allow these
    invocations and then voted on who would deliver
  • District Court ordered that prayers could neither
    be affiliated with a particular religious group
    or attempt to convert anyone.

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe
The Court ruled 6-3 that the prayer was
unconstitutional for these reasons
  • Not given at a public forum where all messages
    are acceptable
  • Some students (band, cheerleaders, players, etc.)
    must attend games
  • Not private speech, as argued by the school
    school grounds, school-sponsored activity, school
    P.A, read by student, supervision of faculty
  • Sources http//
  • http//

Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)
  • Louisiana had a Creationism Actif evolution
    was taught in school, creationism was required to
    be taught, too.
  • Louisiana provides schools with materials to
    teach creationism, but not evolution.
  • Louisiana does not require the teaching of
    creationism it is only mentioned when evolution
    is taught.

Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)
  • The Creationism Act was deemed unconstitutional
    by a 7-2 vote because
  • The Act does not have a secular purpose. It does
    not advance academic freedom and restricts the
    abilities of teachers to teach what they deem
  • The Louisiana Creationism Act advances a
    religious doctrine by requiring either the
    banishment of the theory of evolution from public
    school classrooms or the presentation of a
    religious viewpoint that rejects evolution in its
  • Source http//

Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District
  • Jeff Zobrest was a deaf student attending
    Catholic school
  • The Federal and Appellate courts dismissed the
    lawsuit filed against the school district calling
    for Jeff to be provided an interpreter
  • Was the school district required, under the
    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
    (which would likely have provided an interpreter
    if he had been in public school) and the Free
    Exercise Clause, to provide an interpreter?

Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District
In a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that it was the
school districts duty to provide an interpreter
  • The private school was not being relieved of any
    financial burden that they otherwise would have
    to bear (as in the case of purchasing textbooks
    or other supplies for religious schools).
  • The interpreter would not add to the religious
    environment in which Jeff was educated.
  • The Dissenting viewpoint
  • It is unclear whether the law requires an
    interpreter to be provided, thus the state should
    decide the case.

Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District
  • What was the importance of the case?
  • The case allowed public employees to work within
    private, religious schools. Even if they are
    translating religious information, they are not
    advancing a religion or creating a more religious
  • Source http//