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Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 the past had shackled men's tongues to make them speak only the religious thoughts that government wanted them to speak and to pray only to the God that government wanted them to pray to. (Engle v. Vitale, 1962) New York State was found in violation of the Establishment Clause when it included a uniform prayer in its Statement on Moral and Spiritual Training in the Schools document (Bennett & Foldesy, 2008). In his written opinion, Justice Hugo Black stated, First Amendment rests upon the premise that both religion and government can best work to achieve their lofty aims if each is left free from the other within its respective sphere Here not only are the state's tax supported public school buildings used for the dissemination of religious doctrines. The State also affords sectarian groups an invaluable aid in that it helps to provide pupils for their religious classes through use of the state's compulsory public school machinery. Its first and most immediate purpose rested on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion. The history of governmentally established religion, both in England and in this country, showed that whenever government had allied itself with one particular form of religion, the inevitable result had been that it had incurred the hatred, disrespect and even contempt of those who held contrary beliefs. That same history showed that many people had lost their respect for any religion that had relied upon the support of government to spread its faith. The Establishment Clause thus stands as an expression of principle on the part of the Founders of our Constitution that religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy, to permit its "unhallowed perversion' by a civil magistrate. (Engle v. Vitale, 1962) There have been nine Supreme Court decisions on school prayer (Davis, 2009). The Supreme Court has analyzed three types of school prayer: (1) devotionals, (2) prayer in the curriculum, and (3) prayer at school events. The Establishment Clause was the critical test applied to each case. In applying the test, the Court determined whether or not the prayer in question was permissible based upon three conditions: (1) who was praying; (2) whether or not students were forced to participate; and (3) where the prayer transpired. With the exception of two cases, the Court found that the Establishment Clause was violated. However, the two cases where the Court found in favor of school prayer raise questions regarding the reliability of applying the Establishment Clause (Mead, Green & Oluwole, 2007). The Establishment Clause tests. The Supreme Court uses three tests to determine violations of the Establishment Clause. The tests may be considered singularly or together to determine constitutionality (Liva, 2009). Lemon test. The Lemon v. Kurtzman decision resulted in the Lemon test. Chief Justice Burger created the Lemon test in his 1973 majority opinion. A statute must meet the three criteria of the Lemon test to be upheld as constitutional. A law must have a secular purpose; neither promote or inhibit religion; and cause no excessive comingling of government and religion (Epley. 2007). The Lemon test has never been overturned and is still used today to guide court decisions (Mead et al, 2007). Coercion test. Justice Kennedy created the coercion test in Lee v. Weisman. The coercion test is 5

Profile for Texas Association of School Administrators

JTWSE—Volume 2  

JTWSE—Volume 2  

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