In the landmark United States Supreme Court case Engel v. Vitale (1962) the Court held for the first time that organized prayers in public schools constituted an improper establishment of religion and were therefore an unconstitutional violation of the 1st Amendment.
Jonathan Engel is the son of the late Steven Engel, one of the plaintiffs in this case, and currently the president of the Secular Humanist Society of New York (SHSNY). Mr. Engel will focus on three aspects of the separation of church and state in general, and school prayer and the Engel case in particular: the historical background concerning governmental establishment of religious practices in this country; the history of public school prayer from colonial times through the 19th and 20th centuries; and the particulars of the Engel case, including the legal, cultural, and political dynamics that led to this landmark decision.
Mr. Engel also writes frequently on church/state matters for his blog, The Reasonable Grouch and has contributed essays to Church & State, the newsmagazine of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and to Pique, the newsmagazine of SHSNY.
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