History of Religion in Education

  • Establishment of first publicly supported schools in America

    Massachusetts legislature enacted the "old Deluder Satan" Act.
  • First Amendment establishes separation of church and state

  • Gitlow v. New York

    Ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the guarantees of the First Amendment and safeguards them against state interference.
  • West Virginia v. Barnette

    Students may not be required to salute the flag.
  • Everson v. Board of Ed

    First major establishment clause decision
  • McCollum v. Board of Ed

    Religious instruction during school hours was declared unconstitutional.
  • Zorach v. Clausen

    Established "release-time" religious instruction, where the instruction took place off school grounds.
  • Period: to

    Supreme Court declared school-sponsored prayer and bible reading unconstitutional

  • Epperson v. Arkansas

    A state cannot restrict teaching in favor of a religious preference.
  • Lemon v. Kurtzman

    Established the Lemon Test. Government action or policy must (1) have a secular purpose, (2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor impedes religion, and (3) avoid excessive entanglement of government with religion. Used consistently until 1992.
  • Wisconsin v. Yoder

    Court exempted Amish children from school attendance after successful completion of eighth grade.
  • Stone v. Graham

    The posting of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms was declared unconstitutional.
  • Wallace v. Jaffee

    Supreme Court struck down an Alabama law that indicated an intent to encourage students to pray.
  • Lee v. Weisman

    Clergy led invocations and benedictions were declared unconstitutional as a violation of the establishment clause.
  • Altman v. Bedford Central School District

    Ruled in favor of parents who claimed that parts of a program offended their Catholic faith.