Justice Dept. Backs Church College Aid In Colorado

The Bush administration is helping an evangelical Christian university in Colorado fight for state funding.

In December, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief on behalf of Colorado Christian University in its lawsuit challenging the Colorado Commission on Higher Education’s (CCHE) refusal to allow the private religious school to participate in state-funded student financial aid programs.

Represented by the Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society, the university sued the state commission in late 2004 arguing that denial of state funding violated the school’s religious liberty rights and the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

The CCHE, however, says the state may not support “pervasively sectarian” schools, the Rocky Mountain News reported in early January.

In its brief, the Justice Department maintained that the U.S. Supreme Court has approved indirect funding of religious institutions.

The Rocky Mountain News also reported that the CCHE’s executive director does not like the state law barring the public funding and has worked to change it.

“As long as it’s the law, I’m required to apply it,” Rick O’Donnell told the newspaper.