1943 October 5

Landmark Church-State Case Begins


R. A. Everson, Executive Vice President of the New Jersey Taxpayers’ Association, challenged a state law on this day that allowed use of public funds for transporting students to private and parochial schools. In Everson v. Board of Education, on February 10, 1947, the Supreme Court upheld the state law but articulated a “wall of separation” between church and state that has defined the issue of government support for religious activities in schools ever since.

The two most important Supreme Court decisions on religion in the schools are Engel v. Vitale on June 25, 1962, which declared officially-sponsored prayers unconstitutional, and Abington v. Schempp on June 17, 1963, which ruled that mandatory Bible-reading was also a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The Court: “The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws that aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between Church and State.’”

Visit the Americans United for Separation of Church and State web site: http://www.au.org

Learn more about the Establishment Clausehttp://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/category/religion

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!