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Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy$
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Nathaniel Persily, Jack Citrin, and Patrick J. Egan

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195329414

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329414.001.0001

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School Prayer

School Prayer

(p.62) 3 School Prayer
Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy

Alison Gash

Angelo Gonzales

Oxford University Press

In the aggregate, public opinion has remained solidly against the Court's landmark decisions declaring school prayer unconstitutional. The public has been and continues to be highly supportive of a constitutional amendment overturning these decisions. The analysis of various subgroups confirms several expected findings—that the more educated are more likely to approve of the Court's decisions and that those who attend religious services are more likely to disapprove. But race plays an important role in predicting disapproval starting in the early 1990s; African Americans—particularly African American Protestants—are much more likely than secular whites to disapprove of the Supreme Court's decisions. What this review of public opinion suggests is that, failing a significant change in the religiosity and values of large segments of American society, the public will continue to support efforts to cross the line in the sand drawn by the Supreme Court in its school prayer decisions.

Keywords:   school prayer, religiosity, African Americans, Protestants, Engel v. Vitale, Abington School District v. Schempp

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