Supreme Court To Hear Religious Education Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hear an important case dealing with whether states have the right to refuse to pay for the education of aspiring ministers.

The high court said May 19 that it would hear a dispute from Washington state involving a pastoral ministries student who wanted a state grant to study to become a clergyman. State officials, citing provisions in the Washington Constitution barring tax support for religion, refused.

A federal appeals court ruled last year that Washington's refusal to pay for the religious training of Joshua Davey, a student at Northwest College, an Assemblies of God school in Kirkland, Wash., amounts to discrimination.

Davey's case is being litigated by the American Center for Law and Justice, a legal group founded by TV preacher Pat Robertson. The organization works in the courts to undermine the separation of church and state.

"People who want to enter the ministry should pay their own way, not hand the bill over to the taxpayer," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "This case could open the floodgates to massive taxpayer funding of religious institutions."

Look for full details about the Davey v. Locke case in an upcoming issue of Church & State.