MCCOLLUM v. BOARD OF EDUCATION DIST. 71
In 1940, members of the Jewish, Roman Catholic, and some Protestant faiths formed a voluntary association called the Champaign (Illinois) Council on Religious Education. Cooperating with the Champaign Board of Education, the Council offered voluntary classes in religious instruction to public school pupils. The courses were conducted in the regular classrooms of the school building. Students who did not attend the religious instruction were required to go to some other place in the building to pursue secular studies.
Did the use of the public school system for religious classes violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause?
Yes. The Court held that the use of tax-supported property for religious instruction and the close cooperation between the school authorities and the religious council violated the Establishment clause. Because pupils were required to attend school and were released in part from this legal duty if they attended the religious classes, the Court found that the Champaign system was "beyond question a utilization of the tax-established and tax-supported public school system to aid religious groups and to spread the faith."