ERIC Number: ED244328
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984
Reference Count: 0
Shall We Pray? The Latest Word from Legislatures and Courts.
Sorenson, Gail Paulus
This chapter reports on legislative activity and court litigation during 1983 on issues relating to school prayer. Eighteen bills and resolutions have been introduced in the 98th Congress on this issue; 7 relate to voluntary prayer, 4 to equal access, and 3 are concurrent resolutions, not legislative in nature, expressing the belief that periods of silence in public school programs do not violate the constitution. A Senate resolution proposing a school prayer amendment has been introduced at the insistence of President Reagan, but stands little chance of passage, owing to strong opposition by most mainline religious groups as well as civil liberties organizations. Equal access measures, allowing students to meet voluntarily for religious purposes, have a better chance of passage. Initiatives to limit federal court jurisdiction over school prayer have been introduced in both the Senate and the House, but thus far have met with little success. The federal courts, during 1983, overturned several state efforts to establish prayer in schools. In "Jaffree vs. Wallace," the Eleventh Circuit Court for Appeals ruled against two Alabama statutes permitting teacher-led school prayer. Likewise, in cases in New Mexico and New Jersey, courts ruled against statutes allowing for a "period of silence" on the grounds that they evinced a religious purpose. Other religious practices associated with public schools were prohibited by federal district courts in Georgia and California, though in Pennsylvania, a voluntary religious group was permitted to meet in a semipublic forum. The equal access issue is likely to become more prominent during 1984. (TE)
Publication Type: Legal/Legislative/Regulatory Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: School Prayer
Note: In: Jones, Thomas N., Ed. and Semler, Darel P., Ed. School Law Update...Preventive School Law. p58-68. For complete document, see EA 016 748.