South Carolina Scholarship Aid to BJU Would Violate Constitution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Joseph Conn
March 4, 1998 Rob Boston

SOUTH CAROLINA SCHOLARSHIP AID TO BOB JONES UNIVERSITY
WOULD VIOLATE CONSTITUTION,
CHURCH-STATE WATCHDOG GROUP CHARGES

BJU PRESIDENT BLASTS AID OPPONENTS AS ‘ENEMIES OF GOD’

State scholarship funding for Bob Jones University would violate
the U.S. Constitution and taxpayers’ rights, a church-state watchdog
group has warned the South Carolina Senate.

In a letter to the Senate Education Committee, Americans United
for Separation of Church and State said participation by the militantly
fundamentalist Greenville school in the state’s Future Excellence (LIFE)
Scholarship Program would violate both the U.S. and South Carolina
constitutions, which prohibit public support for religious institutions.

“It would be unconscionable to force all of South Carolina’s
taxpayers to end up supporting religious views and agendas with which
they disagree,” wrote the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive
director.

“Without question,” insisted Lynn in the March 3 letter, “BJU is
a religious college, a college that exists primarily to instill its
worldview in its students….As the university itself acknowledges,
religion is integrated throughout the curriculum and campus life. As a
result of its religious character, it would be impossible to fund the
secular operations of BJU without funding its religious functions. For
this reason, both the U.S. and South Carolina Supreme Courts have held
that any funding of pervasively sectarian institutions is
unconstitutional.”

The South Carolina House of Representatives has already approved
H.B. 4535, a measure that for the first time would include BJU in its
largesse. BJU students would be eligible for up to $2,000 in scholarship
funds, even though the school is unaccredited. The bill, which has
support from Gov. David Beasley, is now pending in the Senate.

BJU is best known for a 1983 Supreme Court decision that upheld
the revocation of the school’s tax-exempt status because of its
restrictive racial policies.

BJU’s leaders are also known for their shrill rhetoric. In a
recent example, BJU President Bob Jones III blasted opponents of the
scholarship subsidy. “There is spiritual warfare going on,” said Jones at
the Feb. 17 BJU chapel service, “but God is in control….These people
are enemies of God.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a
Washington, D.C.-based religious liberty watchdog group representing some
50,000 members in all 50 states. Founded in 1947, AU has often
participated in lawsuits challenging tax aid to private religious
schools.

__________________________________________________________________
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
1816 Jefferson Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
202.466.3234
202.466.2587 fax
E-mail: americansunited@au.org
WWW site: http://www.au.org/

Distributed by charles.sumner@juno.com

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