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Abington School District v. Schempp - Timeline Event

Time Period

06-17-1963

Description

Abington School District v. Schempp (1963) dealt with whether required Bible readings and recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the public schools was constitutional under the Establishment Clause. The Supreme Court held that these practices did indeed violate the Establishment Clause, on the grounds that they had the primary effect of promoting religion. Religion and the Bible could both be studied for historical and secular purposes, but the Abington School District's requirements did not meet this threshold. This case also is important because the court stated that in order to be judged constitutional under the Establishment Clause, laws had to have a secular purpose and a primary effect that neither promoted nor disapproved of religion. These two tests would later comprise two of the three prongs of the influential Establishment Clause test articulated in the 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman decision.

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Movements

Religious Right

Related Dictionary Terms

Bible, Christian, Lord's Prayer, Prayer, Religion, Secular

Photographs

Abington School District bus- Flickr- photo by Tobias Eder (CC BY 2.0)
Abington School District bus- Flickr- photo by Tobias Eder (CC BY 2.0)

Ellery Schempp, primary student involved in the court case- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Mike Linksvayer
Ellery Schempp, primary student involved in the court case- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Mike Linksvayer

Warren Court- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-113496
Warren Court- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-113496

Book/Journal Source(s)

Drakeman, Donald L., 1991. Church-State Constitutional Issues: Making Sense of the Establishment Clause Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Flowers, Ronald, 2005. That Godless Court? Supreme Court Decisions on Church-State Relationships, 2nd ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Web Page Contributor

Robert Martin
Affliated with: Assistant Professor, Southeastern Lousiana University

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