Engel v. Vitale
Case Study Project
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."
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.