Thursday is National Day of Prayer, a day in which the country pauses to reflect on prayer’s role in private and public life.
This year, it takes place when more Americans identify as non-religious and do not believe in God.
However, it also comes as more conservatives consider putting prayer and religious symbols in public places, like the Ten Commandments, in some public school classrooms.
The Texas State Senate just passed a bill to do just that.
That idea, just a few years ago, would have been deemed unconstitutional by many.
However, because of recent rulings at the Supreme Court, Texas may just be allowed to enact this idea, and other states may follow.
Times have changed
For context, the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase in an 1802 letter.
Even so, the Supreme Court, over the last 50 years or so, has generally always put some restrictions on faith.
In the 1960s, justices said praying in public schools was unconstitutional.
In the 1970s, the Supreme Court established what’s known as the “lemon test” from the case Lemon v. Kurtzman.
Justices, at the time, said public actions couldn’t overly emphasize a religion. In doing so, they rejected public funding for private religious schools.
However, the justices who established the principle are not the justices on today’s court.
In 2022, many legal scholars believe the “lemon test” was essentially overturned in the case Kennedy v. Bremerton when the court ruled a football coach was allowed to pray privately after football games.
As a result of that ruling, conservatives appear poised to push the limits of what the Supreme Court will allow.
Most experts agree that putting the Ten Commandments in public schools in Texas would do that.
SEE MORE: Why are fewer Americans religious?
Decline in faith
All of this comes as fewer Americans believe in God, fueling this controversy and creating debate over what is right in America’s schools.
In 1967, 98% of the country believed in God, according to Gallup, and that number changed very little for decades.
Last year, though, Gallup reported that only 81% of Americans believed.
Those who don’t now make up around 1 in 5 Americans.
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