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U.S. Supreme Court Narrows Separation Between Church and State

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed an evangelist group designed to convert young children to meet in a school after hours if other private groups are allowed to use the space at that time as well. The decision, written by ultra-conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, maintains the Court’s prohibition on explicitly school-promoted religion, but dangerously narrows the separation between church and state.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State called the ruling “disappointing.” Executive Director Rev. Barry W. Lynn said, “The court’s ruling means aggressive fundamentalist evangelists have a new way to proselytize school kids.” The club in the case is sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship, a national group that seeks to convert young children to fundamentalist Christianity. Meetings were held just minutes after classes ended, and consisted of religious lessons and worship. Children were divided into “saved” and “unsaved.” Last year, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals called the club “quintessentially religious.” Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, and Souter dissented the majority’s opinion.

Sources:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Press Release Ð June 11, 2001 and Nando Media Online Ð June 11, 2001

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