Engel v. Vitale

Case Study Project

Basic Facts:

The Board of Regents for the State of New York authorized a short, voluntary prayer at the start of each school day. This was an attempt to defuse the politically potent issues of religion at the time. The prayer is stated as follows: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country."

Engel v. Vitale song ft. Dad


6-1 decision for Engel

By providing the prayer, New York officially approved religion which therefore made the action of voluntary prayer illegal. By establishing a religion the Supreme Court deemed this action unconstitutional by referring to the First Amendment's "establishment of religion."


This was the first in a series of cases in which the Court used the establishment clause to eliminate religious activities of all sorts. This case is considered a landmark because it set the tone that everyone has the right to freely express their own religious beliefs without one being superior to another.

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Significance/Relevance (today):

This decision is significant on today's society because it still allows everyone to freely express their own religious opinions and beliefs without any persecution. The decision has also spurred out into other areas like how in today's society teachers are not allowed to express and house their religious belongings in their rooms, etc.

Significance/Relevance (future):

We are ahead as far as the progress our nation has made on equal protection to freely express one's personal religious beliefs. This progress allows kids to respectfully refuse to honor our national pledge, pray whenever they'd like, and wear whatever their religion may require or represent.
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