This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
The state of Minnesota has moved to discriminate against Christian schools by excluding them from a program allowing high school students to take college courses.
And it's getting sued.
An announcement from Becket, which fights in the courts for religious rights across America, said a group of Christian parents and schools is suing the state over its Post Secondary Enrollment Options program.
For decades, that's allowed high-school students to take college courses and get credit.
However, leftists in the state government changed the rules to discriminate against several Christian schools – and Christian students who want to go there and get a head start on their education.
"They are unable to do so, however, because Minnesota has removed religious schools’ eligibility in the program if they require a statement of faith from students," Beckett explained.
The organization explained Melinda and Mark Loe, and Dawn Erickson are parents in Minnesota. Their older children have used their PSEO funds at two outstanding Christian schools – the University of Northwestern-St. Paul and Crown College – uphold their religious values. "Their current high-school-aged children are now being barred from the schools of their choice because of Minnesota’s new ban on colleges with statements of faith," Becket said.
It is the far-left governor of the far-left state, Tim Walz, who signed into state law the discrimination against Christians.
"Minnesota’s sudden change to the law hurts students who want to attend schools that uphold their religious values – schools that have attracted thousands of Minnesota high-school students over the past three and a half decades," Becket reported.
The plaintiffs are asking a federal court to strike the new discrimination.
"Minnesota cannot deny religious students the learning environments they prefer just because they are religious, nor can they exclude schools from participating in the program because of the schools’ religious practice. The Supreme Court has consistently and recently affirmed that public benefits that are open to private secular organizations must also be open to religious ones. "
A statement from Mark and Melinda Loe said, "The PSEO program guarantees all students an equal opportunity to pursue excellent academics at a school of their choice. It gave our older children a head start on college in Christ-centered communities at Northwestern and Crown. All we want is for the rest of our children to have the same opportunity to be educated in an environment consistent with their religious beliefs."
Crown President Andrew Denton said, "For over 100 years, Crown College has remained a boldly Christian college dedicated to our mission to provide a biblically based education. The First Amendment protects our current and future PSEO students’ right to participate in PSEO without abandoning our faith. "
Becket lawyer Diana Thomson added, "Minnesota politicians just slammed the door on thousands of kids in their state who want to get a head start on college, all because the schools they want to attend share their religious beliefs."
The complaint explains that schools "can apply almost any admissions criteria and still accept PSEO students," and in that context, "Crown and Northwestern have always asked that all students in their on-campus programs share their Christian beliefs."
However, if they ask students to have a faith statement now, they are targeted by the state for exclusion, it explains.
"Minnesota knowingly excluded Crown and Northwestern from the PSEO program because of their religious beliefs, even after being warned this was unconstitutional."
It noted that the Supreme Court over recent years "has three times held that once a state opens funding private institutions, the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause forbids excluding participants based on their religion or their religious use of the funds."
In fact, the high court said in Trinity Lutheran, excluding religious communities from such programs is "odious to our Constitution ... and cannot stand."