Deadline Today 9am New York/ Eastern Standard Time Zone
Running head: PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 1
Prayer in Public Schools
GEN103: Information Literacy
April 15, 2018
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PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 2
Research Question: How have the courts weighed factors regarding the legality of prayer in
American public schools?
Scholarly Article 1
Lain, C. B. (2015). God, civic virtue, and the American way: reconstructing Engel. Stanford
Law Review, 67(3), 479-555. doi: 10.31228/osf.io/fzhwp
Annotation: This scholarly article focuses on the Supreme Court case Engel v Vitale (1963),
which set the precedent that state-sponsored prayer in school is unconstitutional. The author
argues that while the decision was originally seen as, and continues to be seen as, protecting
religious minorities from being forced to participate in the religious practices of the religious
majority, the Supreme Court Justices did not view it that way during the decision-making
process. Rather, the Supreme Court Justices took into account demographic changes (a
significant increase in the Catholic population) as well as cultural changes (a substantial decrease
in anti-Semitism after the Holocaust) that had created a more pluralistic society; they did not see
themselves as protecting a religious minority but as recognizing that there was not a prayer, no
matter now bland and generic, that could avoid offending some parties. In addition, the Supreme
Court Justices looked at the plain text of the First Amendment and determined that requiring
public school students to recite a state-written prayer was clearly endorsing religion. There was
little disagreement on these points as indicated by the 6-1 decision, with one vacancy on the
court and one justice too ill to participate in deliberations. The author used a variety of sources as
evidence for this article, including the text of this and other Supreme Court decisions, quotes
from an interview with Justice Black, many newspaper and magazine articles from the time
Your final research question from the Week 1 assignment
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include all of
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PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 3
period as well as historical and legal books and journal articles. Many of the sources that I’ve
read mentioned the Engel v. Vitale decision and indicated its importance to this issue but this
journal article provides detailed explanation of why and how the case began as well as the
reasoning behind the decision, backed up a variety of historical and legal sources.
The author thoroughly supported her points throughout the article with extensive sources.
In addition to the text of the decision and an interview with Justice Black, the author also used
the personal papers of Justice Black to support her argument. This article provides relatively
current information, having been published in 2015. A significant portion of the evidence
supporting the thesis from the original court case in the early 1960s but the author also used
more contemporary legal, scholarly, and news sources, all the way up to the year before this
article was published. The author has significant authority on this topic as a Professor of Law
and Associate Dean at the University of Richmond School of Law. In addition, this article was
published by the Stanford Law Review, which is well-known and well-respected as a scholarly
law journal. The most obvious limitation of this article is that it focuses on the Engel v Vitale
ruling; a number of other court rulings, both by the Supreme Court and by lower courts, are
relevant to my research question but are not addressed in this article. This journal article
answers my research question by explaining the reasoning behind the Engel v Vitale ruling,
which set the original precedent by which other religion in school cases were decided. It provides
specific information from the ruling and the historical context in which the ruling was made as
well as information about the public and media reaction to the ruling.
they fit into
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PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 4
Scholarly Article 2
Warnick, B. R. (2012). Student rights to religious expression and the special characteristics of
schools. Educational Theory, 62(1), 59-74. doi:10.1111/j.1741-5446.2011.00435.x
Annotation: In this scholarly peer-reviewed article, Warnick examines the difficulty in balancing
two different parts of the First Amendment of the Constitution, the Establishment Clause with
the Free Exercise Clause, to show why it is difficult to determine what religious activities are
permissible for students in the public school environment. The Establishment Clause prevents
any part of the government from establishing or endorsing religion while the Free Exercise
Clause guarantees individuals the right to freely engage in religious activities. Within the public
school environment, students have the right to engage in student-initiated prayer or other
religious activity. Student-initiated religious activity must be accommodated by school officials
and it is often accommodated by allowing the use of school property and other resources, which
may give the appearance of official endorsement of the religious activity. This can create
difficulty in determining when student-initiated religious activity has crossed the line into
unconstitutional activity. The author also argues that school are unique areas in American
society because education is compulsory, they serve a range of ages, and because students are
expected to gain a wide range of competencies, eventually becoming capable members of society
who understand how ideas (both religious and secular) function to produce political outcomes.
These three elements that make schools a special place in American society contribute to the
difficulty with balancing the Free Exercise Clause with the Establishment Clause and make the
The title of your article should be written like sentence with only
the first word and proper nouns capitalized. Also remember to
italicize the name of the journal.
PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 5
issue particularly controversial. Warnick used many scholarly sources as references. He cited
numerous education, legal, and philosophy journal articles and books to support his points as
well as relevant Supreme Court cases. This article is different from many of the sources I’ve read
because it explains why the issue of religious expression in schools is complicated, both from the
viewpoint of allowing students the freedom of expression in a constitutional way and from the
viewpoint of ensuring that students receive a complete educational experience.
In this article, the author argues that the issue of prayer and religious activity in public
school is nuanced and complex; he supports that thesis well by citing many educational, legal
and philosophical sources that validated each element of his argument. The article was
published in 2012, so it is relatively current. The author, Bryan R. Warnick, has authority on this
issue as professor of Philosophy of Education at Ohio State University. The journal, Educational
Theory, was founded in 1951 and is a peer-reviewed journal so this article is credible. The
article is interesting but limited in usefulness to me because the factors that courts consider is not
the main focus. Instead, the author discussed balancing the Free Exercise Clause and the Free
Establishment Clause as part of a larger discussion of the complexities of prayer and religious
activities in public school. This article answers my research question by explaining how the two
clauses of the First Amendment that are relevant to the issue of religious activity in public
school, the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause, apply in a school setting and how
they can be difficult to reconcile.
PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 6
Haiman, F. S. (2003). Religious Expression and the American Constitution. East Lansing:
Michigan State University Press. Retrieved from Ashford Library eBook Collection.
Annotation: This eBook examines many different facets of the First Amendment of the
Constitution, generally focusing on how it has been applied in court cases related to religion in
American society and the evolution of First Amendment cases throughout American history. Of
particular relevance to my research question is chapter four, “Religious Expression in Public
Schools.” This chapter is broken into six parts, covering prayer in school and school-sponsored
events, the Pledge of Allegiance, use of school resources for religious meetings outside of school
hours, evolution curriculum, school officials’ religious expression, and censorship of library and
curricular resources. The author discusses many Supreme Court and lower court cases, arguing
that schools, because they are viewed as shaping young minds, are a particular focus of conflict
over the proper church-state balance. The courts have endeavored to both protect the rights of
students and faculty to freely exercise their chosen religion while also protect against state
coercion to engage in a specific religion (or any religion) or state endorsement of religion. In
general, the goal of the courts has been for the state to be neutral in regard to religion and neither
favor or disfavor either a specific religious sect or religious practice over nonpractice. The
author supported his points in this book by citing and referencing Supreme Court and lower court
cases, media reports, and scholarly legal articles. This article is similar to other sources that I
read on this topic in that it discusses some of the same cases and made some similar points.
However, it also discussed many lower court cases that were not mentioned in other sources and
it addressed issues beyond prayer and student religious activities in school, like religious
expression of school officials, censorship of library and curriculum materials, and the teaching of
The title of the eBook should be italicized.
to focus on
that is of
PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 7
The thesis of the relevant chapter of this eBook is best summarized by saying that the
courts have worked to balance the rights enumerated in the First Amendment on various
religious issues that find their way into public schools. The author supported that thesis well by
exploring those various topics and explaining how court rulings have evolved over time, building
on precedent. Although the author cited some scholarly secondary sources, the majority of
sources cited and referenced are court cases, illustrating the focus of the author on discussing
court rulings. This eBook is less current than other sources chosen for this project, having been
published in 2003. However, it is still current enough for this topic and contains significant
useful information. The author, Franklyn S. Haiman, was Emeritus Professor of Communication
Studies at Northwestern University. He wrote additional scholarly works on the First
Amendment and a national award for freedom of expression was named in his honor. It would
appear that he was an authority on this issue. The eBook was published by the Michigan State
University Press, which indicates that this is a scholarly book and that it is a credible source.
The limitation of this source is primarily that it is older and so does not include any cases or
scholarship written since 2003. In addition, the author largely used court cases as sources; while
there are some scholarly secondary sources cited and referenced, there are clearly fewer
scholarly secondary sources used in this source than in other scholarly sources used for this
project. While this source provides a thorough history of the evolution of the history of religion
in public school cases, it does not place them in the context of the scholarly discussion as well as
other sources in the project. This eBook addresses my research question by looking at issues
beyond just prayer in public school. By examining other issues that fall under the First
Amendment legal umbrella, it is easier to see how the courts have worked to find a balance
between the Free Expression and Establishment Clauses. In addition, because this eBook also
of a topic
so they all
PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 8
discusses lower court cases, it was easier to understand how the precedent set by the Supreme
Court cases affected subsequent cases that came before these courts.
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PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 9
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