The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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State Constitution (Religious Sections) - California

Please note that we have excerpted only those sections dealing with religion
Research and editing by Jim Allison

ARTICLE IX - Education

Sec. 7.5. Free textbooks. The State Board of Education shall adapt textbooks for use in grades one through 8 throughout the State, to be furnished without cost as provided by statute.

Sec. 8. Sectarian Schools, public money, doctrines. No public money shall ever be appropriated for the support of any sectarian or denominational school, or any school not under the exclusive control of the officers of the public schools; nor shall any sectarian or denominational doctrine be taught, or instruction thereon be permitted, directly or indirectly, in any of the common schools of this State.

In California Teachers Association v. Riles, 176 Cal. Rptr. 300, 311 (Cal. 1981), the supreme court determined that the Educational Fund statutes which authorized the loaning of textbooks to private schools, violated the state constitution --Art. IX, SEC. 8 and Art. XVI, Sec. 5. The court declined to follow Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236 (1968) (where Supreme Court declared that public school loan of textbooks to private schools did not violate the federal Constitution), because the California provisions "do not confine their prohibition against financing sectarian schools in whole or in part to support for their religious teaching function, as distinguished from secular instruction."

ARTICLE XVI -- Public Finance

Sec. 3. Appropriations. No money shall ever be appropriated or drawn from the State Treasury for the purpose or benefit of any corporation, association, asylum, hospital, or any other institution not under the exclusive management and control of the State as a state institution, nor shall any grant or donation of property ever be made thereto by the State, except that notwithstanding anything contained in this or any other section of the Constitution.

Sec. 5. Religious institutions--grants prohibited Neither the Legislature, nor any county, city and county, township, school district, or other municipal corporation, shall ever make an appropriation, or pay from any public fund whatever, or grant anything to or in aid of any religious sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose, or help to support or sustain any school, college, university, hospital, or other institution controlled by any religious creed, church, or sectarian denomination whatever; nor shall any grant or donation of personal property or real estate ever be made by the state, or any city, city and county, town, or other municipal corporation for any religious creed, church, or sectarian purpose whatever; provided, that nothing in this section shall prevent the Legislature granting aid pursuant to Section 3 of Article XVI.

The supreme court stated that [this] section thus forbids more than the appropriation or payment of public funds to support sectarian institutions. It bans any official involvement, whatever its form, which has the direct, immediate, and substantial effect of promoting religious purposes." California Educational Facilities Authority v. Priest, 116 Cal. Rptr. 361 (Cat. 1974).

Additional resources: Joseph R. Grodin, Some Reflection on State Constitutions, 15 Hastings Const. L.Q. 391 (1987).

Melissa L. Nelson, Whose Beliefs are Entitled to Protection Resolving the Conflicts between the California and Federal Standards, 27 Santa Clara L.

Rev. 377 (1987).

Lawrence M. Newman, Rediscovering the California Declaration of Rights, 26

Hastings L.J. 481 (1974).

Source of information:

Stars in the Constitutional Constellation, Federal and State Constitutional provisions on Church and State, Annotated by Steven K. Green Esq. Edited by Regina Reaves Hayden, (1993) pp 13-14.

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