Timeline of Religion in Public Schools


First Amendment Drafted

Approx. 1789

The United States Congress agrees to the precise language of the religion clauses of the First Amendment.

Bill of Rights Ratified


The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.

Blaine Amendment


Forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have any religious affiliation

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette


Required participation in the flag salute is unconstitutional.
Significant court victory won by Jehovah's Witnesses where the court held it was unconstitutional for public schools to compel students to salute the flag.

Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township (Establishment Clause)


NJ used tax money for transportation to private schools. State provided reimbursement to parents of students who attend either private or public schools and used public transportation. Court ruled in favor of NJ saying it had nothing to do with religion. However, the court did agree that there needed to be a distinct separation between the two.

McColum v. Board of Education


Illinois allowed religious people to come in during the day and teach. Court says this violates the Establishment Clause.

Zorach v. Clauson


Released time for religious instruction off school premises is constitutional.

Engel v. Vitale


A school sponsored nondenominational voluntary prayer violates the establishment clause. Making someone say something is considered "coercion".

Westside Community Schools v. Mergens


Westside Community School refused a group of students from forming a Bible Club. Courts ruled that school districts cannot prohibit Bible Study groups from meeting.