"The history and tradition of our nation are replete with public ceremonies featuring prayers of thanksgiving and petition," the late Scalia wrote in the dissenting opinion.
Scalia also criticized the majority's "deeper flaw" of relying on the question of "peer pressure" coercion.
"The coercion that was a hallmark of historical establishments of religion was coercion of religious orthodoxy and of financial support by force of law and threat of penalty," Scalia added. "Typically, attendance at the state church was required; only clergy of the official church could lawfully perform sacraments; and dissenters, if tolerated, faced an array of civil disabilities. Thus, for example, in the colony of Virginia, where the Church of England had been established, ministers were required by law to conform to the doctrine and rites of the Church of England; and all persons were required to attend church and observe the Sabbath, were tithed for the public support of Anglican ministers, and were taxed for the costs of building and repairing churches."
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who recently retired and whom President Donald Trump is trying to replace with nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, wrote the majority opinion.
"We know too that sometimes to endure social isolation or even anger may be the price of conscience or nonconformity," Kennedy wrote. "But, by any reading of our cases, the conformity required of the student in this case was too high an exaction to withstand the test of the Establishment Clause. The prayer exercises in this case are especially improper because the State has in every practical sense compelled attendance and participation in an explicit religious exercise at an event of singular importance to every student, one the objecting student had no real alternative to avoid."
As many school districts would rather change their policies to avoid the costly legal fees of a lawsuit, FFRF has been successful in getting many school districts to change their prayer policies.
Last month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation was successful in pressuring an Alabama school district to end its tradition of having someone say a prayer over the intercom before the start of high school football games.
The community responded by reciting in unison the Lord's Prayer at the very next game following the school district's decision. Additionally, local churches made and handed out hundreds of "We Believe" T-shirts to those who attended the game.
In August, an Indiana public school district banned teachers and staff from leading an extracurricular Christian student club for elementary school students following a complaint from FFRF."
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