Denver, CO, July 23, 2008 ... Calling today's decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Colorado Christian University v. Baker "a serious setback for religious liberty in Colorado" Bruce DeBoskey, Regional Director of the Mountain States Office of the Anti-Defamation League, said:
"The 10th circuit is mistaken to use the word "discrimination" to describe Colorado's reasonable efforts to keep taxpayer money out of the hands of those educational institutions that exclusively promote a religious faith.
"Colorado's longstanding efforts to prevent the funding of pervasively sectarian institutions were designed to ensure that government and religion do not mix, thereby protecting the rights of all of Colorado's citizens to practice their religion -- or not -- freely and without government interference.
"Protecting Coloradoans' precious religious liberty is not discrimination. The 10th Circuit's decision is a serious setback for religious liberty in Colorado."
In this case, Colorado Christian University challenged Colorado's tuition assistance program for low-income post-secondary students to attend schools because the statute specifically excludes "pervasively sectarian" institutions from accepting funds from these programs.
ADL argued in a coalition brief that the questions in this case had been clearly answered by the United States Supreme Court in Locke v. Davey, which held that a state is not affirmatively compelled to fund religious education when it funds a secular counterpart.
ADL's brief also argued that there is nothing about the statute's distinction between pervasively-sectarian and non-pervasively-sectarian institutions -- a concept with deep roots in Establishment Clause jurisprudence -- that raises concerns about religious discrimination.