October 2018 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A pro-voucher organization is suing in two states in an effort to force officials to award taxpayer funds to religious organizations.

The Institute for Justice (IJ) filed federal lawsuits in Maine and Washington state, arguing that policies in both states that bar tax funding of private religious schools violate religious freedom.

In Maine, some rural communities that don’t have their own schools contract with nearby public schools or private schools to provide educational services. If the school-less communities choose to work with private schools, the institutions must be secular in nature.

One of the plaintiffs, Alan Gillis, a resident of Orrington, chooses to send his 16-year-old daughter to a Christian school and says he should be reimbursed for that, reported the Associated Press.

The case, Carson v. Hasson, is being jointly litigated by IJ, a libertarian organization, and the First Liberty Institute, a Religious Right legal group.

The Washington state case challenges a work-study program that allows college students to receive state-funded salaries while they work in part-time jobs that are usually related to their field of study.

Groups that are sectarian in nature are excluded from the program. The organizations are suing on behalf of students at Summit Christian Academy and Whitworth University, both located in Spokane. The students say they want to take part in the work-study program by working for sectarian entities.

The case is Summit Christian Academy v. Meotti.