United States Supreme Court (1844), in the case of Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 43 U.S. (How. 2) 126, 127, 132, Justice Joseph Story delivered the Court’s opinion. The case concerned one Stephen Girard, a deist from France, who had moved to Philadelphia and later died. In his Last Will and Testament, he left his entire estate, valued at over $7 million, to establish an orphanage and school, with the stipulation that no religious influence be allowed. The city rejected the proposal, as their lawyers declared:
The plan of education proposed is anti-christian, and therefore repugnant to the law. … The purest principles of morality are to be taught. Where are they found? Whoever searches for them must go to the source from which a Christian man derives his faith—the Bible. … There is an obligation to teach what the Bible alone can teach, viz. a pure system of morality …
Both in the Old and New Testaments [religious instruction’s] importance is recognized. In the Old it is said, “Thou shalt diligently teach them to thy children,” and the New, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not. … ” No fault can be found with Girard for wishing a marble college to bear his name for ever, but it is not valuable unless is has a fragrance of Christianity about it.
The U.S. Supreme Court rendered its unanimous opinion, stating:
And we cannot overlook the blessings, which such men by their conduct, as well as their instructions, may, nay must impart to their youthful pupils. Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the college—its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained and its glorious principles of morality inculcated?
Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Where are benevolence, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, so powerfully and irresistibly inculcated as in the sacred volume? …
Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 43 U.S. 126, 132, 143, 152-153, 170, 175 (1844).