Sunday, March 10, 2013

65th Anniversary of McCollum v Board of Education

Rob Boston, AU
Communications Director
Sixty-five years ago today (March 8), the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of its most important church-state decisions.

The 8-1 ruling in McCollum v. Board of Education in 1948 ended a practice in the Champaign, Ill., public schools of allowing ministers to come onto the campus during the day to offer sectarian instruction.

The decision is important because it marked the first time the high court ruled that the public schools could not be in the business of promoting religion to students. It paved the way for the 1962 and '63 rulings striking down official school prayer and Bible reading.

Writing for the majority in McCollum, Justice Hugo Black scored "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."

Observed Black, "Here not only are the State's tax-supported public school buildings used for the dissemination of religious doctrines. The State also affords sectarian groups an invaluable aid in that it helps to provide pupils for their religious classes through use of the State's compulsory public school machinery. This is not separation of Church and State."


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