On June 17, 1963, the United States Supreme Court decided School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp. The case dealt with prayer in the public schools. Under Pennsylvania law, at the beginning of each school day, at least ten verses were to be read from the bible, along with the Lord’s prayer. In an 8-1 decision, the United States Supreme Court found this “opening exercise…to be a religious ceremony.” As such, it violated the First Amendment, even though students were permitted to opt out.
Justice Clark, who authored the majority opinion, wrote– “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. Though the application of that rule requires interpretation of a delicate sort, the rule itself is clearly and concisely stated in the words of the First Amendment.”