ADL Files Brief in Landmark Religious Freedom Case
Detroit, MI, May 8, 2006 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today filed a "friend of court" brief in support of the State of the Michigan's refusal to fund the religious indoctrination of children who have been abused or abandoned.
In Teen Ranch v. Udow, Teen Ranch, a faith-based organization, is appealing the district court's decision upholding the State's refusal to fund its program. Teen Ranch's stated mission is to change the lives of children by "developing a closer relationship with Jesus Christ." It advances this mission by having its instructors encourage children to pray at each meal, make various devotions during the day, and attend church services. ADL's brief, submitted before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, argues that this type of funding is both unconstitutional and coercive to children.
"At the heart of this case lies the fate of religious freedom for perhaps the most vulnerable segment of our society – abused, abandoned and neglected children," said Betsy Kellman, Regional Director of ADL's Michigan Region. "By infusing Christianity into its publicly-funded residential care program and proselytizing kids placed there by the state, Teen Ranch looked past essential Establishment Clause principles to advance its own parochial agenda – at the expense of children."
Ms. Kellman also noted that the Teen Ranch program underscores the dangers to religious freedom posed by our nation's charitable choice laws which allow churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions to compete on equal terms with religious-affiliated and secular institutions for public social service dollars.
"Teen Ranch is a troubling omen of things to come when tens of billions of dollars in federal social service funds are made available to our nation's religious institutions without proper constitutional safeguards," Ms. Kellman said.
The law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates prepared the friend of court (amicus) brief on behalf of ADL.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.