Public School Prayer 1962

Engel v. Vitale was the first case regarding school prayer to come to the Supreme Court. A group of parents objected to a prayer written by a state agency that was recited each morning at their children’s school. The Court ruled that official prayer—even voluntary, nondenominational prayer—in the public schools violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. The majority opinion stated, “it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite.” One Justice disagreed: “I think that to deny the wish of these school children to join in reciting this prayer is to deny them the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our Nation.”