Ebralinag v Division Superintendent of Schools of Cebu; G.R. NO. 95770; 01 Mar 1993; 219 SCRA 256

in Legal Chyme by

Several students, members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, were expelled for disobedience of RA 1265 and DECS Order 8, series of 1955, by refusing to salute the flag, sing the national anthem and recite the patriotic pledge. These acts were considered to be “acts of worship” or “religious devotion” which they “cannot conscientiously give to anyone or anything except God.”

Whether or not the expulsion of the students was constitutional.

NO. Forcing a small religious group, through the iron hand of the law, to participate in a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs, will hardly be conducive to love of country or respect for dully constituted authorities. Coerced unity and loyalty even to the country — assuming that such unity and loyalty can be attained through coercion — is not a goal that is constitutionally obtainable at the expense of religious liberty. A desirable end cannot be promoted by prohibited means.

Petition is GRANTED. Expulsion orders are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.

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