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Abington Township School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett

At issue in the consolidated cases of Abington Township School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett (1963) was whether the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution permitted public schools to begin the day with prayer or Bible reading. The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, held that public schools may not engage in officially sanctioned prayer or Bible reading, because to do so would have been unconstitutional. This entry describes the background of the case and the ruling.

Facts of the Case

During the colonial period, most schooling was in private, usually religious, hands. Schools often started the day with prayer or Bible reading. These activities continued when education gradually shifted from private to public schooling. By the turn of the ...

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