Lawyers, the Public, and the Origins of America’s Culture Wars

Haley Cook, University at Albany, State University of New York

This record is now permanently available at


NOTE: This record is now permanently available at

In 1962 and 1963, the United States Supreme Court attempted to untangle religion . The Court decisions did not sit well with many Americans who feared subversion and juvenile delinquency as a result of mandatory school prayer and Bible reading being declared unconstitutional. This paper will argue that there was a mixed public reaction to Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington v. Schempp (1963). This paper will look at the mixed reactions of everyday Americans to examine the mid-twentieth century intersections of anti-Communist fear, the rise of Evangelical Christianity, and the fear of juvenile delinquency. It will do so by examining the legal culture’s attitudes toward school and religion.