Referring authorized to praise one religion overReferring authorized to praise one religion over

Referring to freedom of religion, the 1st Amendment explains that Congress is not authorized to praise one religion over another or require a person to practice religion. Overtime, citizens that were either born here or that immigrated, came to seek religious freedom. People arrived to America expecting to practice their religion freely.
Dating back to the 1600s there were two groups of people, the Puritans and the Pilgrims. According to the American Heritage Dictionary a Puritan is, “A member of a group of English Protestants who in the 1500s and 1600s advocated strict religious discipline along with simplification of the ceremonies and creeds of the Church of England” (American Heritage Dictionary, “Puritan”). The Puritans wanted to reform against and purify their church. According to the American Heritage Dictionary a pilgrim is, “A religious devotee who journeys to a shrine or sacred place” (American Heritage Dictionary, “Puritan”). In this sense, Pilgrims were English Separatists who found the colony of Plymouth in New England in 1620. 
Ten years after the settlement of the Pilgrims, the Puritans came and discovered the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Both the Puritans and Pilgrims settled in America after they purified their Church by using Protestant Reformation. According to Protestant Reformation was, “the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era” (History, “The Reformation”). People such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, challenged and questioned the Catholic Church’s ability to define ‘Christian practice’. The two men wanted change in the amount of power that pastors were authorized to use. According to, “Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an Augustinian monk and university lecturer in Wittenberg when he composed his 95 Theses, which protested the pope’s sale of reprieves from penance, or indulgences” (History, “The Reformation”). In his 95 Theses, he wrote about how the pope, along with the Church, was corrupted because the Church had people pay to forget their sins. Martin Luther’s beliefs came from two ideas, one being that the Bible was the central religious authority and two being that people reached salvation only by faith, but not through their actions or money. According to, “In 1541 John Calvin, a French Protestant who had spent the previous decade in exile writing his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” was invited to settle in Geneva and put his Reformed doctrine—which stressed God’s power and humanity’s predestined fate—into practice” (History, “The Reformation”). John Calvin believed one’s fate was predestined, and there would be nothing that could change the outcome of going to heaven or not.
When Martin Luther and John Calvin, along with their supporters, began to reform the Church of England, Henry VIII was in search of a male heir. Pope Clement VII chose not to nullify Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry, in 1534 the English king declared that he alone should be the final authority in matters relating to the English church. Henry dissolved England’s monasteries to confiscate their wealth and worked to place the Bible in the hands of the people. At the start of 1536, every Church was required to have a copy. According to, “The Catholic Church of the Counter-Reformation era grew more spiritual, more literate and more educated” (History, “The Reformation”). The Catholic Church enforced these parishes to have new religious orders, such as the Jesuits which were the men that conducted missionary works.
As a result of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, Northern Europe’s new religious and political freedoms came at a great cost, with decades of rebellions, wars and bloody persecutions. The Thirty Years’ War alone may have cost Germany 40 percent of its population. The Reformation’s positive outcomes can be seen throughout the intellectual and cultural growth it inspired on all sides of the opposed groups.
Witchcraft is the belief where people give your loyalty to the devil and in return they are granted power to harm others. This had emerged in Europe as early as the 14th century, and was then distributed into colonial New England. In the rural Puritan community of Salem Village, the Salem witch trials were provoked by residents’ suspicions of their neighbors, as well as their fear of outsiders. 
In the spring of 1692, “9-year-old Elizabeth (Betty) Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams (the daughter and niece of Samuel Parris, minister of Salem Village) began having fits, including violent contortions and uncontrollable outbursts of screaming” (History, “Salem Witch Trials”). The two girls did not act as they normally would, instead they had violent outbursts A doctor, located in the same village, examined the girls and diagnosed them to be witches. Soon after, other young girls in the village displayed similar symptoms, which included Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott and Mary Warren. According to, “In late February, arrest warrants were issued for the Parris’ Caribbean slave, Tituba, along with two other women–the homeless beggar Sarah Good and the poor, elderly Sarah Osborn–whom the girls accused of bewitching them” (History, “Salem Witch Trials”).
The three accused witches were brought into court to have their case judged by Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne. According to, “Likely seeking to save herself from certain conviction by acting as an informer, she claimed there were other witches acting alongside her in service of the devil against the Puritans” (History, “Salem Witch Trials”). As distress spread throughout the community and into the rest of Massachusetts, a great sum of people, including Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse, were accused of witchcraft. 
During this time period, many women were still accused of and being named, witches. In May 1692, William Phips, who was the newly appointed governor of Massachusetts, ordered the formation of a special Court to hear and to decide on witchcraft cases. On June 2nd, the court had its first conviction against Bridget Bishop. According to, “she was hanged eight days later on what would become known as Gallows Hill in Salem Town. Five more people were hung that July; five in August and eight more in September” (History, “Salem Witch Trials”). After having trials, the accused witches that were found guilty, eventually were hung. Some witches that had been incarcerated were killed. Also, Giles Corey, which was Martha Corey’s husband, was stoned to death
Cotton Mather, along with his father, recommended that witchcraft should be judged equally as they have done with other crimes. According to, they stated “It would better that ten suspected witches may escape than one innocent person be condemned” (History, “Salem Witch Trials”). Governor Phips had disbanded the Court of Oyer and Terminer and their successor disregard all evidence that dealt with witchcraft. As 1693 arrived, Phips lifted all charges on those that were accused of witchcraft.
In January 1697, there had been a day of fasting dedicated to those that were involved in the Salem witch trials, also the Massachusetts General Court considered the cases to be illicit. Even after those that were accused of witchcraft were given financial restoration, there had still been damage to the community and its people for many years. “Indeed, the vivid and painful legacy of the Salem witch trials endured well into the 20th century, when Arthur Miller dramatized the events of 1692 in his play “The Crucible” (1953), using them as an allegory for the anti-Communist “witch hunts” led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s” (History, “Salem Witch Trials”). Decades have passed and the Salem witch trials were still being used as a reference to current situations at the time.
In 1946, a New Jersey statute authorized local school districts to make rules and contracts for the transportation of children to and from public and private schools. The Board of Education of Ewing Township offered reimbursement to the parents of the children that rode the bus to and from school on a public bus. The issue had been “whether reimbursing parents for their children’s transportation to and from religious schools violates the Establishment Clause when it is part of a general transportation reimbursement scheme” (First Amendment Schools, “Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)”). The jury had a 5-4 ruling that it was not against the Establishment Clause. They reasoned that the Establishment Clause requires the state to remain neutral among religions, but the New Jersey plan simply provided money to those parents as part of a standard government service which was not intended to be religious in character; similar to providing sewer and police services to churches.
The majority had stated “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion” (First Amendment Schools, “Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)”). Due to the Establishment Clause the government cannot have a say on what religion citizens decide they want to believe in, nor can they pressure a person to follow a religion they do not want.
In 1962, there had been a law in New York which required public schools to open everyday with the Pledge of Allegiance as well as an unsectarian prayer. Students were allowed to exclude themselves from prayer if they felt it was offensive in any way. “A parent sued on behalf of his child, arguing that the law violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as made applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (United States Courts, “Facts and Case Summary – Engel v. Vitale”).  The issue was whether or not school-sponsored unsectarian prayer in public schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment “prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.”” (Legal Information Institute, “Establishment Clause”). The government is not to choose a religion and make it an official country-wide religion. 
This clause also prohibits the government from favoring a certain religion over another, or demanding citizens to believe in a religion. In the Supreme Court case, Engel v. Vitale, the ruling was 8-1 being that is was against the Establishment Clause. “The majority stated that the provision allowing students to absent themselves from this activity did not make the law constitutional because the purpose of the First Amendment was to prevent government interference with religion” (United States Courts, “Facts and Case Summary – Engel v. Vitale”). The jury noticed that religion is important to a great amount of the American citizens. In the United States, there are many different beliefs that have come to the states from all around the world; therefore, there is no specific religion that is set in stone. They also realized that in the past there had been many disagreements about religion that had led to wars and oppression once the government had got themselves involved.
On June 17, 1963, the Supreme Court ruled 8–1 in the Abington School District v. Schempp court case. This case ruled that Bible readings and prayers in public schools is unconstitutional. The case was brought to attention in 1958, when Edward Lewis Schempp, his wife, and two of their children, who attended public schools in Pennsylvania, filed suit in U.S. district court in Philadelphia. They stated their religious rights, under the First Amendment, “had been violated by a state law that required public schools to begin each school day with a reading of at least 10 passages from the Bible” (McCullough, “Abington School District v. Schempp”). A point made in the law suit was that their children were forced to read 10 passages from the Bible, when in the Establishment Clause prohibits this. The Schempps, being Unitarians, also pointed out that it interfered with the free exercise of their religious faith, in violation of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. The free exercise clause states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” (Legal Information Institute, “Free Exercise Clause”). 
In this 8–1 majority, the court noted and proclaimed the Supreme Court’s incorporation of the Establishment Clause in the Supreme Court case Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940). It also ratified the view, that is also supported in other precedents, that the Establishment Clause was “not intended merely to prohibit Congress from aiding or preferring one religion at the expense of others but also to ensure that it does not promote all religions, or religion generally” (McCullough, “Abington School District v. Schempp”). The government may not promote any or all religions, it is also prohibited interfering with religion, such as the free exercise clause of the First Amendment has established. Overall, the two religion clauses of the First Amendment require the state to be neutral to religion with both “different groups of religious believers, but also as between religious believers and nonbelievers” (McCullough, “Abington School District v. Schempp”). Abington School District v. Schempp ended the start of the Supreme Court’s prayer ban. Believe it or not, the issue has not faded from public, political, or religious concern. It had come back once again to the Supreme Court two decades later in the case Wallace v. Jaffree.
In a related case, Murray v. Curlett, a Baltimore statute had required Bible reading or the Lord’s Prayer at open exercises in public schools. Madalyn Murray O’Hair and her 14-year-old son, William Murray, were atheists and had challenged the prayer requirement. “An attorney herself, Murray brought the suit only after protesting to officials, stirring up media attention, and encouraging her son to protest in a controversial strike that kept him out of school for 18 days” (The Free Dictionary, “Abington School District v. Schempp”). The lawsuit that Murray had fabricated stated that this law had transgressed both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause by requiring compulsory religious education and discriminating against atheists. The lower court in Baltimore, Maryland had found that the Bible readings in public schools was constitutional and sided with Murray. Once Murray reached the state courts, she had lost
During the time of the oral arguments for the consolidated cases (Abington School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett) on February 27 and 28, the nation was still in shock due to the previous year’s ruling of Engel v. Vitale. As a result of the Engel decision, there had been chaos which led to 150 proposals being produced in Congress in order to alter the Constitution. According to, “Attorneys representing Pennsylvania and Baltimore officials denied that Bible reading or prayer had a religious nature, and claimed that it therefore did not violate the Establishment Clause—which, in any event, they maintained, was only designed to prevent an official state religion” (The Free Dictionary, “Abington School District v. Schempp”). Attorneys argued that Bible readings would provide the students with a much better environment filled with good vibes. 
“Justice Tom C. Clark’s majority opinion differed in a few respects from the previous year’s ruling: it admonished prayer advocates for ignoring the law, spelled out in some detail the precedents involved, and laid out the Court’s first explicit test for Establishment Clause questions. Founded on the idea of state neutrality, this test had a vital standard: any law hoping to survive the prohibitions of the Establishment Clause must have “a secular purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion.”” (The Free Dictionary, “Abington School District v. Schempp”). The study of the Bible or religion was acceptable, but if and only if it is shown as nonreligious education. Based off the First Amendment, there should be no religious practices being conducted within public schools. “While the Free Exercise Clause clearly prohibits the use of State Action to deny the rights of free exercise to anyone,” Justice Clark observed, “it has never meant that a majority could use the machinery of the State to practice its beliefs.” 
In the end the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of permanently removing school prayers and Bible readings from the public schools. Justice Tom Clark wrote, “Religious freedom, it has long been recognized that government must be neutral and, while protecting all, must prefer none and disparage none” (All About History, “School Prayer”). Though the government is to remain neutral, they are to still protect the citizens right of the First Amendment. The federal government considers atheism to be a religion, and this Supreme Court ruling favored atheism, at the expense of the Christian majority.