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SCOTUS: No State Can Require Prayer at School

June 17, 1963 - The Supreme Court decided today that no state or locality may require recitation of the Lord’s Prayer or Bible verses in public schools. An 8-1 majority wrote what appeared to be a final legal answer to one of the most divisive issues of church and state. The opinion of the Court was by Justice Tom C. Clark (picture), who is originally from Texas. Justice Clark sounded the theme that government must be “neutral” in religious matters. His opinion ended with these phrases: “The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church, and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind. We have come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not within the power of government to invade that citadel, whether its purpose or effect be to aid or oppose, to advance or retard. In the relationship between man and religion, the state is firmly committed to a position of neutrality.”


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