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2.26.2004

Supreme Court rules that Washington state need not finance divinity studies 

From the New York Times:



WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states that subsidize secular study at the college level may withhold the scholarships from students preparing for the ministry.

The 7-to-2 decision, upholding the eligibility requirements of the Promise Scholarship program in Washington State, was a setback for advocates of using publicly financed vouchers to pay for religious school tuition. Joined by the Bush administration, advocates of "school choice" programs sought to use this case to establish a broad principle that an institution's religious affiliation should not make it ineligible to participate in general programs of government aid.

...

The chief justice said the distinction that Washington made in its five-year-old scholarship program reflected the state's longstanding interest in avoiding an "establishment" of religion, rather than hostility or animus toward religion. He said that while the Washington Constitution mirrored the prohibitions found in many of the early state constitutions against using tax money to support ministers, it was nonetheless quite protective of religion in many respects.



Hmm...seems kind of lame to me. I guess I agree that nothing compels the state of Washington to fund religions instruction -- for example, there'd be nothing wrong with the state establishing a scholarship fund for science instruction, as the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense do at the federal level -- but singling out religious studies does seem kind of hostile.

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