Engel v. Vitale: Prayer in the Schools

By Susan Dudley Gold | Go to book overview

TWO

A CONSTITUTION AND A
BILL OF RIGHTS

THe reLIGIOnS BrouGHT TO North America by the first European settlers—and the related faiths developed by their descendants—played a central role in American history. The early English colonies were settled by Pilgrims, who had fled from England after breaking with the Church of England, and Puritans, an offshoot of the Church of England with a stricter doctrine. The two groups eventually merged and broke with the Church of England altogether.

There was no separation of church and state. New England Puritan towns looked much like English villages, with a town square and the church in the center. The church was at the center of the settlers' lives as well. New Englanders met with friends and neighbors at the simple white meetinghouse, where both church services and community meetings were held. Church elders held key positions in the community; civic leaders played active roles in the church. The town's selectmen, gathering at the church/meetinghouse, voted on the minister's salary and the upkeep of the building, among other matters. Church officials helped write the town's laws, and judges referred to the Bible as the final authority on legal points.

Just as the church elders in England had been intolerant of the Puritans, the religious leaders in the New England colonies followed a similar course, allowing no dissent from others of different faiths. Only church

-18-

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Engel v. Vitale: Prayer in the Schools
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 2
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • One - The Regents' Prayer 12
  • Two - A Constitution and a Bill of Rights 18
  • Three - First Amendment on Trial 38
  • Four - A Prayer Goes to Court 66
  • Five - Before the Supreme Court 79
  • Six - A Landmark Desicion 98
  • Seven - Politics and Religion: A Potent Mix 125
  • Timeline 134
  • Notes 137
  • Further Information 146
  • Bibliography 150
  • Index 156
  • About the Author 160
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