The Case Engle Vs Vitale Essay

961 words - 4 pages

In the late 1950's in New Hyde Park, New York, the bell rings and morning announcements are made. All the students together say a prayer: 'Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon The, and we beg They blessings upon us, our parents, teachers, and our country.' (Hass, 7). This prayer is followed by The Pledge of Allegiance. No one though much of this 'prayer', it was just a part of normal school life. It was created by The New Hyde Park School Board, and was said to favor no religion and be generally universal. There was not a problem with this until five parents argued this policy. Lenore Lyons, Monroe Lerner, Stephen Engel, Daniel Lichtenstein, and Lawrence Roth (Simmon). Two were Jewish, one was Unitarian, one was involved in Ethical Curture Society, which focused on social welfare, one was an Atheist. The said that the first amendment was being violated. The first amendment prohibits the government from passing laws establishing a religion. So, the students were left with a few options; say the prayer, but not believe in it, stand silent, or walk out of the room when the prayer was being recited. The parents argued that this was not fair, because they would stand out from the other students and there would be pressure put on them to say it. So the five parents put an article in the local newspaper and spread the word. They had about fifty followers with them (Haas, 28). They decided to take their case to court.In 1791, Madison wrote the Bill of Rights, which mentioned religion in the first amendment. The law was that no religion can be supported and no religion can be inhibited by the federal government. It is the separation of church and state, also discussed by Thomas Jefferson. This law stated that no state could set up a church pass religious laws, force a person to a church, etc., judge a person for his/her beliefs, use tax money to pay for religious organizations, participate in religious groups (Haas, 23-25).A lawsuit was filed 1957, an the court agreed to hear the case. Engel v Vitale--. William Vitale, Jr, the defendant, and chairman of the New Hyde Park School Board. Stephen Engel, the plaintiff, and objecting parent. It was held in the New York Supreme Court in 1957. Engel lost the trial to Vitale. Students did not have to participate in the prayer if they or their parents chose not to and the court felt that this was fair enough (Simmon).This decision, however, was not nearly good enough for the parents. They complained that their children were feeling peer pressure and just because they had a different religious background they were treated differently. They felt that this decision made the children stick out even more. They took their case to a state appellate court, 'The Court of Appeals', it...

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