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Zorach v.


rief Fact Summary. The Petitioners, Zorach and other taxpayers and residents of New York City
(Petitioners), brought suit challenging the constitutionality of a “released time” program, which allowed
children to leave school, with parental permission, for religious instruction

Synopsis of Rule of Law. This case stands for the proposition that the Establishment Clause of the United
States Constitution (Constitution) does not advocate hostility toward religion and mere
acknowledgment of a religious program, without participation, is not unconstitutional

Facts. The “released time” program allowed children, with parental permission, to be released from
school for religious instruction. The instructions took place away from the school grounds and no school
involvement was required, other than acknowledging the students’ participation. The Petitioners
brought suit challenging the constitutionality of the program alleging that the prohibition against any
laws respecting the establishment of any religion also prohibited this voluntary program. The Petitioners
appealed from a judgment for the Respondents, Clauson and other member of the Board of Education
of the City of New York (Respondents) and the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court)
granted writs.

Issue. The issue is simply whether New York, through its acceptance of the “released time” program, has
engaged in the respect of an establishment of religion, within the meaning of the

Held. Affirmed.

The Supreme Court held for the Respondents, noting that because instruction occurred away from the
schols and did not require school participation, no respect for a particular establishment had occurred.

Additionally, the Supreme Court held that a philosophy of hostility toward religion cannot be read into
the Bill of Rights. Just because the First Amendment of the Constitution prohibits the making of a law
which will respect the establishment of religion, it does not necessarily follow that the government
should be hostile toward the exercise of religion, which would also be an abrogation of the Free Exercise
Clause of the same amendment.

Dissent. Justices Hugo Black (J. Black) and Robert Jackson (J. Jackson) wrote separate dissents, both
standing for the proposition that the majority had blurred the line between the separation of church
and state.

Board of Ed. of Central School Dist. No. 1 v. Allen

Facts of the case

A 1965 amendment to New York's Education Law required public school boards to lend textbooks to
elementary and secondary school students enrolled in private and parochial schools. The Board of
Education for New York Central School District No. 1, contending that the law violated the Establishment
and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment, filed suit against James Allen, Commissioner of
Education, requesting a declaratory injunction to prevent enforcement of the statute. The trial court
agreed with the board and found the statute unconstitutional. The Appellate Division reversed the
ruling, finding that the boards lacked standing. On appeal, the New York Court of Appeals ruled the
boards did have standing, but also found that, because the law's purpose was to benefit all students
regardless of the type of school they attended, the law did not violate the First Amendment.


Do the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment forbid New York from requiring
that public school boards loan textbooks to parochial school students without cost?

No. In a 6-3 opinion authored by Justice Byron R. White, the Court applied the test constructed in
Abington School District v. Schempp and found that, because the stated legislative purpose and
necessary effects of the statute did not advance any one religion or religion in general, the law did not
violate the First Amendment. Because the books were given to the students, rather than the parochial
schools themselves, the Court reasoned, "the financial benefit is to parents and children, not schools."

EN BANC[G.R. No. L-6858. May 31, 1956.]


NORBERTO ELA, Mayor of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, Respondent-Appellee.


[G.R. No. L-6858. May 31, 1956.]


NORBERTO ELA, Mayor of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, Respondent-Appellee.



Petitioners, in their behalf and for the benefit of other Jehovah’s Witnesses in the province of Zambales,
brought this action to compel Respondent to grant them a permit to hold a public meeting at the public
plaza of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, together with the kiosk, on such date and time as may be applied for by

Instead of granting the permission, Respondent allowed them to hold their meeting on the
northwestern part corner of the plaza. He adopted as a policy not to allow the use of the kiosk for any
meeting by any religious denomination as it is his belief that said Kiosk should only be used “for legal
purposes.” And when their request for reconsideration was denied, Petitioners instituted the present
action for mandamus.
Petitioners that the action taken by Respondent is unconstitutional being an abridgment of the freedom
of speech, assembly, and worship guaranteed by our Constitution.

Respondent cannot be considered as capricious or arbitrary considering the peculiar circumstances of

this case. It appears that the public plaza, particularly the kiosk, is located at a short distance from the
Roman Catholic Church. The proximity of said church to the kiosk has caused some concern on the part
of the authorities that to avoid disturbance of peace and order, or the happening of untoward incidents,
they deemed it necessary to prohibit the use of that kiosk by any religious denomination as a place of
meeting of its members.

Petitioners are members of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, commonly known as Jehovah’s
Witnesses, whose tenets and principles are derogatory to those professed by the Catholic organization


The issue raised involves a little digression on the extent to which the right to peacefully assemble
guaranteed by the Constitution may be invoked.


In the case at bar, it is not claimed that petitioners themselves, or their immediate associates, had ever
performed any illegal or even improper act in preaching the tenets of their faith. Respondent’s answer
indicates that, prior to the date set forth in petitioners request for license, or July 27, 1952, said
petitioners had been allowed to hold a religious meeting, though not in the grandstand in question, and
seemingly, had held said meeting. Yet, nothing appears to have been said or done in the course thereof,
which could be, or is being, assailed on legal or moral grounds. Hence, the position taken by respondent
mayor is to my mind absolutely untenable.

Garces vs. EstenzoNature:

This case is about the constitutionality of four resolutions of the barangay council of Valencia, Ormoc
City, regarding theacquisition of the wooden image of San Vicente Ferrer to be used in the celebration
of his annual feast day

.Facts: On March 23, 1976, the said barangay council adopted Resolution No. 5, "reviving the
traditional socio-religious celebration"every April 5 of the feast day of Señor San Vicente Ferrer. It
designated the members of nine committees who would takecharge of the 1976 festivity. lt provided for
(1) the acquisition of the image of San Vicente Ferrer and (2) the construction of awaiting shed as the
barangay's projects. Funds for the two projects would be obtained through the selling of tickets and
cashdonations ". On March 26, 1976, the barangay council passed Resolution No. 6 which specified
that Councilman Tomas Cabatingan,hermano mayor of the fiesta, would be the caretaker of the image
of San Vicente Ferrer and the image would remain in hisresidence for one year and until the election of
his successor as chairman of the next feast day. It was further provided that theimage would be made
available to the Catholic parish church during the celebration. These resolutions have been ratified by
272 voters, and said projects were implemented. The image was temporarily placed inthe altar of the
Catholic Church of the barangay. However, after a mass, Father Sergio Marilao Osmeña refused to
return theimage to the barangay council, as it was the church’s property since church funds were used
in its acquisition. Funds were raised by means of solicitations and cash donations of the barangay
residents. On April 11, 1976, during a mass, Father Osmeña allegedly uttered defamatory remarks
against the barangay captain, ManuelC. Veloso, in connection with the disputed image. That incident
provoked Veloso to file against Father Osmeña in the city courtof Ormoc City a charge for grave oral
defamation. Father Osmeña retaliated by filing administrative complaints against Veloso with the city
mayor's office and the Department ofLocal Government and Community Development on the grounds
of immorality, grave abuse of authority, acts unbecoming apublic official and ignorance of the law. On
May 12, 1976, the council enacted Resolution No. 10, authorizing the hiring of a lawyer to file a replevin
case againstFather Osmeña for the recovery of the image. On June 14, 1976, the barangay council
passed Resolution No. 12, appointing Veloso as its representative in the replevincase.The replevin case
was filed in the city court of Ormoc City against Father Osmeña and Bishop Cipriano Urgel. After the
barangaycouncil had posted a cash bond of eight hundred pesos, Father Osmeña turned over the image
to the council. ln his answer to thecomplaint for replevin, The priest and Andres Garces assailed the
constitutionality of the said resolutions

.Issue: WON the four resolutions providing for purchase of Saint’s image with private funds

Held: YES it is constitutional.

Reasoning: The barrio council, now barangay council, is composed of the barangay captain and six
councilmen (Sec. 7, Revised BarrioCharter, R.A. No. 3590). Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 684,
which took effect on April 15, 1975, provides that "thebarangay youth chairman shall be ex-officio
member of the barangay council", having the same powers and functions as abarangay councilman.
Resolution No. 5 does not directly or indirectly establish any religion, nor abridge religious liberty, nor
appropriate money forthe benefit of any sect, priest or clergyman. The image was purchased with
private funds, not with tax money. The constructionof the waiting shed is entirely a secular matter. The
wooden image was purchased in honoring the patron saint, and not for thepurpose of favoring any
religion nor interfering with religious beliefs of the barrio residents. One of the highlights of the
fiestawas the mass. Consequently, the image of the patron saint had to be placed in the church when
the mass was celebrated. Ifthere is nothing unconstitutional or illegal in holding a fiesta and having a
patron saint for the barrio, then any activity intendedto facilitate the worship of the patron saint (such
as the acquisition and display of his image) cannot be branded as illegal. Asnoted in the resolution, the
barrio fiesta is a socio-religious affair. Its celebration is an ingrained tradition in rural communities.The
fiesta relieves the monotony and drudgery of the lives of the masses. Resolution No.6 in connection
with Resolution No. 5 does not involve at all, even remotely or indirectly, the momentous issuesof
separation of church and state, freedom of religion and the use of public money to favor any sect or
church. There can beno question that the image in question belongs to the barangay council. Father
Osmeña's claim that it belongs to the church iswrong. The barangay council, as owner of the image,
has the right to determine who should have custody thereof. Thebarangay council designated a
layman as the custodian of the wooden image in order to forestall any suspicion that it isfavoring the
Catholic church. A more practical reason for that arrangement would be that the image, if placed in a
layman'scustody, could easily be made available to any family desiring to borrow the image
inconnection with prayers and novenas. If the council chooses to change its mind and decides to give
the image to the Catholic church, that action would not violate theConstitution because the image was
acquired with private funds and is its private property. The barangay council by enacting Resolution
No. 10 has the right to take measures to recover possession of the image of SanVicente Ferrer, which is
its private property, from the parish priest of Valenzuela Not every governmental activity which
involves the expenditure of public funds and which has some religious tint is violative ofthe
constitutional provisions regarding separation of church and state, freedom of worship and banning the
use of publicmoney or property. (Sec Aglipay vs. Ruiz, 64 Phil. 201)

Finding that the petitioners have no cause of action for the annulment of the barangay resolutions, the
lower court's judgment dismissing their amended petition is affirmed. No costs.