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February 25, 2004

With Intent to Preach

In a time of faith based initiatives and encroaching theocracy, it's refreshing to see this ruling that reminds us about the separation of church and state. This NYT editorial sums it all up rather nicely, but isn't there a loophole in this ruling you can drive a popemobile through? If it's all about intent, couldn't theology students become the newest edition to the "don't ask don't tell" crowd? The student denied funding was a "major in business administration and pastoral ministries" - what if he'd just declined to state the "pastoral ministries" part? And is the choice of theology as a major always an indicator of aims towards the ministry? Or couldn't a student with an interest in history of religion choose an academic theology course of study?

Posted by pam at February 25, 2004 10:40 PM | TrackBack
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I too think this is a strange ruling. I'm a devout atheist who believes strongly in the separation of church and state, but I also think that theology is a perfectly valid field of academic study (just as are anthropology and entomology).

Unless that student was *required* by the institution to become a member of the clergy after completing his studies, his studies would have been, in my opionion, a fair thing for the state to fund (and with my taxes, what's more!). The student's stated career goals should have no bearing on the matter.

Posted by: david on February 26, 2004 08:43 AM

I was flabbergasted it was a 7-2 ruling, with the Court generally so divided... the even sillier thing is that Northwest College is a real Bible-thumper school... a theology student probably gets more exposure to liberal theology than any other student. And the general pre-ministry degree is in "divinity," not theology. Those crazy Supremes!

Posted by: jay on February 26, 2004 09:31 AM
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