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Everson v. Board Of Education (1947)

The Supreme Court decision Everson v. Board of Education 330 U.S. 1. (1947) prepared the dismissal of religion from American public schools. We are hidden by more than a half-century from the shock and numbness this new doctrine of "separation of church and state" occasioned, a great bewilderment caused in part by the absence of any hint of such a separation doctrine in the Declaration, Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.

The Court, which erected the wall of separation, went on to radically change the entire face of American jurisprudence, establishing firmly a principle which had only operated spottily in the past, the "judicial review" power which made the judiciary final arbiter of which laws were legal. No longer could the people’s representatives expect that by working for legislation, their will would be honored by the courts. A new and higher power had spoken, a power with the ability to dispense with religion in government facilities, including schools and the towns and villages of America where public property was concerned.

Everson was no simple coup d’etat, but an act of Counter-Reformation warfare aimed at the independent and dissenting Protestant-Christian traditions of America. To understand the scope of this campaign, you have to look at a selection of court decisions to appreciate the range of targets Everson was intended to hit:

Item: A verbal prayer offered in a school is unconstitutional, even if it is both denominationally neutral and voluntarily participated in. Engel v. Vitale, 1962; Abington v. Schempp, 1963; Commissioner of Ed. v. School Committee of Leyden, 1971.

Item: Freedom of speech and press is guaranteed to students unless the topic is religious, at which time such speech becomes unconstitutional. Stein v. Oshinsky, 1965; Collins v. Chandler Unified School District, 1981.

Item: If a student prays over lunch, it is unconstitutional for him to pray aloud. Reed v. van Hoven, 1965.

Item: It is unconstitutional for kindergarten students to recite: "We thank you for the birds that sing; We thank you [God] for everything," even though the word "God" is not uttered. DeSpain v. DeKalb County Community School District, 1967.

Item: It is unconstitutional for a war memorial to be erected in the shape of a cross. Lowe v. City of Eugene, 1969.

Item: It is unconstitutional for students to arrive at school early to hear a student volunteer read prayers. State Board of Ed. v. Board of Ed. of Netcong, 1970.

Item: It is unconstitutional for a Board of Education to use or refer to the word "God" in any of its official writings. State v. Whisner, 1976.

Item: It is unconstitutional for a kindergarten class to ask during a school assembly whose birthday is celebrated by Christmas. Florey v. Sioux Falls School District, 1979.

Item: It is unconstitutional for the Ten Commandments to hang on the walls of a classroom. Stone v. Graham, 1980; Ring v. Grand Forks Public School District,1980; Lanner v. Wimmer, 1981.

Item: A bill becomes unconstitutional even though the wording may be constitutionally acceptable, if the legislator who introduced the bill had a religious activity in his mind when he authored it. Wallace v. Jaffree, 1984.

Item: It is unconstitutional for a kindergarten class to recite: "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food." Wallace v. Jaffree, 1984.

Item: It is unconstitutional for a graduation ceremony to contain an opening or closing prayer. Graham v. Central Community School District, 1985; Disselbrett v. Douglas School District, 1986.

Item: In the Alaska public schools in 1987, students were told that they could not use the word "Christmas" in school because it had the word "Christ" in it.

Item: In Virginia, a federal court ruled in 1987 that homosexual newspapers may be distributed on a high school campus, but religious newspapers may not be.

Item: In 1987, a 185-year-old symbol of a Nevada city had to be changed because of its "religious significance."

Item: In 1988, an elementary school principal in Denver removed the Bible from the school library.

Item: In Colorado Springs, 1993, an elementary school music teacher was prevented from teaching Christmas carols because of alleged violations of the separation of church and state.

Item: In 1996, ten-year-old James Gierke, of Omaha, was prohibited from reading his Bible silently during free time in the Omaha schools.

Item: In 1996, the chief administrative judge of Passaic County, New Jersey, ruled juries could no longer be sworn in using the Bible.

Item: In 2000, Ohio’s state motto, "With God, all things are possible," was ruled unconstitutional by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because it expressed "a uniquely Christian thought."

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