The Champaign Council on Religious Education by David Barton
Interested members of the Jewish, Roman Catholic and a few of the Protestant faiths formed a voluntary association called the Champaign Council on Religious Education. They obtained permission from the Board of Education to offer classes in religious instruction to public school pupils in grades four to nine inclusive. Classes were made up of pupils whose parents signed printed cards requesting that their children be permitted to attend; they were held weekly, thirty minutes for the lower grades, forty-five minutes for the higher. The council employed the religious teachers at no expense to the school authorities, but the instructors were subject to the approval and supervision of the superintendent of schools. The classes were taught in three separate religious groups by Protestant teachers, Catholic priests, and a Jewish rabbi. Not only were the classes voluntary, students could attend only with parents’ written permission; yet the Court found these classes unacceptable. It reiterated its position taken the previous year:
As we said in the Everson case, the First Amendment has erected a wall between Church and State which must be kept high and impregnable. Justice Felix Frankfurter further expounded on this position: Separation means separation, not something less. It is the Court’s duty to enforce this principle in its full integrity. Illinois has here authorized the commingling of sectarian with secular instruction in the public schools. The Constitution of the United States forbids this. The Court’s assertion that it was wrong for Illinois to “commingle sectarian with secular instruction” seems ironic when one recalls that on August 7, 1789, George Washington signed the Northwest Ordinance which encouraged schools in the territory that would become Illinois to teach “religion, morality, and knowledge.” Furthermore, when Thomas Jefferson authored his plan of education in Virginia, he considered religious study an inseparable component in the study of law and political science. As he explained:
David Barton – “To capture and hold the attention of a person for an extended period of time.” Did Jesus entertain? You better believe it.