The New York State Board of Regents added a prayer in the 1950s for all New York public schools, which stated: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country." The prayer itself was voluntary for all students, and hardly worthy of any controversy, yet it was considered a violation of our First Amendment rights by a few parents and a court case ensued. The New York Court and the New York Court of Appeals sustained the prayer as being constitutional. Incredibly, the parents then appealed this decision to the Supreme Court, which somewhat surprisingly decided to take the case. The fact that the Supreme Court would make a ruling would mean, that whatever decision that they made, would be applicable nationally. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled that this voluntary prayer, which most people would be hard-pressed to see as controversial, or in violation of our Constitutional principles, was ruled to be unconstitutional.
It is always disappointing when the Supreme Court gets it as wrong as they did in the Engel v. Vitale decision; it is especially disappointing that there was just one dissenter, Associate Justice Stewart. The majority that ruled against the voluntary reciting of this innocuous and short prayer to open up each school day are the same type of judges that would rule against using common sense and upholding our American heritage. In essence, the effect of this ruling was to replace God from our public schools with the State then becoming our new god. After all, if you remove God from the equation, it is only a short, logical and small step that since God is vacated from the American lexicon, our new god is now the State that we are dependent upon, and that we should supplicant ourselves to.
The movement that has been made over the last few decades in America is a new and unprecedented acknowledgment that we no longer need give thanks to God, but instead we need give thanks to the State, to our omniscient judges, to our bureaucrats that run our welfare system, to the bankers that issue us our loans or money, and to our employers who so gratefully employ us. Apparently we no longer need a higher power because we are that higher power, but alas this is the falsehood of man's error and of his arrogance.
Justice Stewart correctly pointed out that we are a religious people, dependent upon and historically appreciative of our divine Providence. Stewart asks, why it is"…that the Constitution permits judges and Congressmen and Presidents to join in prayer, but prohibits school children from doing so?" Perhaps the answer is because those that oppose religion as well as those that support it, recognize that: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
We would also do well to remember that if and when God is eliminated from American jurisprudence, our rights will no longer come from God, but they will be dictated, instead, by the State.