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Caesar's Sectarians

The government keeps trying to favor one kind of religion over another.

The state of Colorado wants to encourage religious people to get an education and participate fully in democracy. For example, it provides scholarships even to residents who want to attend a private religious college in the state. You can use them at the Jesuits' Regis University or the Methodists' University of Denver.

Then again, you can't use them at the Buddhists' Naropa University or at Colorado Christian University (CCU), a nondenominational evangelical school.

That's a problem, said the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a July decision declaring Colorado's program unconstitutional. The court allowed that the original law wasn't likely written to discourage attendance at evangelical or Buddhist schools. But it was penned in 1977, just after the Supreme Court had declared (in a case allowing government grants to go to religious schools), "[N]o state aid at all [may] go to institutions that are so 'pervasively sectarian' that secular activities cannot be separated from sectarian ones."

While the Supreme Court never spelled out what "pervasively sectarian" means, Colorado did. An institution of higher education isn't pervasively sectarian if:

(1) The faculty and students are not exclusively of one religious persuasion.

(2) There is no required attendance at religious services.

(3) There is a strong commitment to academic freedom.

(4) There are no required courses in religion or theology that tend to indoctrinate or proselytize.

(5) The governing board does not reflect nor is the membership limited to persons of any particular religion.

(6) Funds do not come primarily or predominantly from sources advocating a particular religion.

Colorado officials had decided CCU didn't meet the criteria. CCU requires chapel for some students. ...

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