“When the state encourages religious instruction and cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. …We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.” (Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 313, 1952)
It is essential that constitutional guidelines be adhered to in the establishment and practice of a Released Time program. The principles, as set out in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, provide that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The first phrase – the Establishment Clause – requires the government to not entangle itself with religious practices, or establish or support religion in any way; the government is to keep itself separate from religion. The second phrase – the Free Exercise Clause – mandates that government be neutral, not antagonistic, to religion. Government must accommodate religion.
Major points to determine the legality of a Released Time program: