• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court disallowed a released-time religious instruction program in public schools, helping define the meaning of the First Amendment’s establishment of religion clause.

By an 8-1 vote, the Supreme Court found unconstitutional a released-time religious education program in the Illinois public schools. Under the Illinois program, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish instructors not paid with public funds but approved by the superintendent of schools came into the schools to teach thirty- to forty-five-minute religious training programs and kept records of those attending. Any student not wishing to participate could participate in supervised alternative activities elsewhere in the building. In his opinion for the Court, Justice Hugo L. BlackBlack, Hugo L.;Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education[Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education] found the use of the school buildings to be excessive public support for religion under his earlier opinion in Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township[case]Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township[Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township] (1947). Justice Felix Frankfurter concurred in an opinion joined by four other justices that argued there was a historical record against intermixing religious and secular activities in the United States. The separationist views that dominated this case were modified by Zorach v. Clauson[case]Zorach v. Clauson[Zorach v. Clauson] (1952). Justice Stanley F. Reed dissented, arguing that the establishment of religion clause should be treated more narrowly to allow the state’s incidental support of religion, a position close to the one taken by Justice Potter Stewart in later cases.Released timeReligion, establishment of;Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education[Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education]Released time

Abington School District v. Schempp

Engel v. Vitale

Epperson v. Arkansas

Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township

Religion, establishment of

Zorach v. Clauson

Categories: History