Haas, 072348 PAAGO, AGO 584
|Docket Nº:||AGO 584|
|Case Date:||July 23, 1948|
The foregoing facts, without reference to others that appear in the record, show the use of tax-supported property for religious instruction and the close cooperation between the school authorities and the religious council in promoting religious education. The operation of the state's compulsory education system thus assists and is integrated with the program of religious instruction carried on by separate religious sects. Pupils compelled by law to go to school for secular education are released in part from their legal duty upon the condition that they attend the religious classes. This is beyond all question a utilization of the tax-established and tax-supported public school system to aid religious groups to spread their faith. And it falls squarely under the ban of the First Amendment (made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth) as we interpreted it in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U. S. 1. There we said: "Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force or influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or for professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to Support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa.***”Turning now to the Constitution of our State, we find that it includes several provisions which are relevant. Article I, Section 3, provides:
All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.Article X provides for the establishment and maintenance of a public school system within the Commonwealth and, Section 2 thereof provides:
No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.This prohibition against the use of public funds for sectarian religious purposes also appears in Article III, Section 18, which provides:
No appropriations, * * * shall be made for charitable, educational or benevolent purposes, to any person or community, nor to any denominational or sectarian institution, corporation or association.We answer the questions in the order presented: I. I MAY RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION BE GIVEN TO PUBLIC SCHOOL PUPILS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS AT A TIME WHEN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE IN REGULAR SESSION? The facts of the Champaign case squarely presented the situation in which religious instruction...
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