One author has suggested that the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses must be read as stating a single precept: that government cannot utilize religion as a standard for action or inaction because these clauses, read together as they should be, prohibit classification in terms of religion either to confer a benefit or to impose a burden. By April 1964, over one hundred-fifty such amendments had been proposed. And then, in 1961, in McGowan v. The exercises are held in the school buildings and perforce are conducted by and under the authority of the local school authorities and during school sessions. Participation in the opening exercises, as directed by the statute, is voluntary.
Justice Clark wrote at length in his majority opinion about the history and importance of religion in America, but his conclusion was that the Constitution forbids any establishment of religion, that prayer is a form of religion, and that hence state-sponsored or mandated Bible reading in public schools cannot be allowed. Board of Education, , 68 S. Three students sued the school arguing that the prayers violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Miscellaneous Writings of Joseph P. See also Choper, Religion in the Public Schools: A Proposed Constitutional Standard, 47 Minn. It should be unnecessary to demonstrate that the Lord's Prayer, more clearly than the Regents' Prayer involved in Engel v. It is true that this liberty frequently was not realized by the colonists, but this is readily accountable by their close ties to the Mother Country.
Thus, the present regimes must fall under that clause for the additional reason that public funds, though small in amount, are being used to promote a religious exercise. While one of the plaintiffs was indeed a parochial school, the case obviously decided no First Amendment question, but recognized only the constitutional right to establish and patronize private schools -- including parochial schools -- which meet the state's reasonable minimum curricular requirements. Freedom of religion will be seriously jeopardized if we admit exceptions for no better reason than the difficulty of delineating hostility from neutrality in the closest cases. See generally as to the background and history of the Barnette case, Manwaring, Render Unto Caesar: The Flag-Salute Controversy 1962 , especially at 252-253. It also forbids the State to employ its facilities or funds in a way that gives any church, or all churches, greater strength in our society than it would have by relying on its members alone.
On the other hand, it safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion. Bureau of the Census, op. The parties here are school children and their parents, who are directly affected by the laws and practices against which their complaints are directed. However, the views of Madison and Jefferson, preceded by Roger Williams, came to be incorporated not only in the Federal Constitution but likewise in those of most of our States. Were the right to be excused not itself of constitutional stature, I might have some doubt about this issue.
To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Louisiana State Board, , which involved a challenge to a state statute providing public funds to support a loan of free textbooks to pupils of both public and private schools. Vitale, supra, at 428, n. Board of Education, supra, at 8-11, could have planted our belief in liberty of religious opinion any more deeply in our heritage. In this country, they thought they had settled one thing at least, that it is not the province of government to teach theology. Report of the United States Commissioner of Education for the Year 1888-1889, part I, H.
But the Establishment Clause is not limited to precluding the State itself from conducting religious exercises. What was unexpected, however, were the ideas expressed in the second portion of Justice Clark's opinion written for the majority. We are under a duty to interpret these provisions so as to render them constitutional if reasonably possible. Grayzel gave as his expert opinion that such material from the New Testament could be explained to Jewish children in such a way as to do no harm to them. Grayzel gave as his expert opinion that such material from the New Testament could be explained to Jewish children in such a way as to do no harm to them. All that we have in that case, therefore, is the conclusory language of a pleading.
It is conceivable that these school boards, or even all school boards, might eventually find it impossible to administer a system of religious exercises during school hours in such a way as to meet this constitutional standard-in such a way as completely to free from any kind of official coercion those who do not affirmatively want to participate. Justice Frankfurter described the effects of the McCollum program thus: Religious education so conducted on school time and property is patently woven into the working scheme of the school. Since the only question was one of free exercise, they concluded, like the majority, that the strong state interest in training a citizen militia justified the restraints imposed, at least so long as attendance at the University was voluntary. The distinction which the Court drew in Zorach between the two cases is, in my view, faithful to the function of the Establishment Clause. Board of Education, supra; McGowan v. It also found that: The reading of the verses, even without comment, possesses a devotional and religious character and constitutes, in effect, a religious observance. With such specific wording in contemporary state constitutions, why was not a similar wording adopted for the First Amendment if its framers intended to prohibit nothing more than what the States were prohibiting? Freund, The Supreme Court of the United States 1961 , 84.
Our decisions make clear that there is no constitutional bar to the use of government property for religious purposes. Lesson Summary Edward Schempp sued Abington School District over a program where the children were forced to participate in a daily Bible reading. One state court adverted to these differences a half century ago: The Bible, in its entirety, is a sectarian book as to the Jew and every believer in any religion other than the Christian religion, and, as to those who are heretical or who hold beliefs that are not regarded as orthodox. This general principle might also serve to insulate the various patriotic exercises and activities used in the public schools and elsewhere which, whatever may have been their origins, no longer have a religious purpose or meaning. Many take their gospel from the New Testament. But the religious exercises challenged in these cases have a long history. The dual prohibition makes that function altogether private.
Such patriotic or ceremonial occasions bear no true resemblance to the unquestioned religious exercise that the State. Commonwealth of Pennslyvania, , 111, 63 S. Twenty-three years ago in Cantwell v. See 1 Beard, The Rise of American Civilization 1937 , 810-818. A too literal quest for the advice of the Founding Fathers upon the issues of these cases seems to me futile and misdirected for several reasons: first, on our precise problem, the historical record is, at best, ambiguous, and statements can readily be found to support either side of the proposition. The exercises are held in the school buildings and perforce are conducted by and under the authority of the local school authorities and during school sessions. Board of Education, 14 N.