FFRF objects to Ohio city scholarships for Christian university

1ohiochristianuniveristyThe Freedom From Religion Foundation is challenging an Ohio town’s scholarship program for a Christian university.

Grove City is offering its residents scholarships to attend Ohio Christian University’s local campus, at the Grove City Church of the Nazarene, as part of the Grove City Higher Education Investment Program. The university is deeply immersed in religion.

The campus is located inside a megachurch. Many of the institution’s degrees and courses are heavily infused with Christianity. For instance, the university offers a B.A. in leadership and ministry that requires many courses in Christian theology and teaches students how to “demonstrate skills in communicating the gospel.” But even seemingly secular options have a lot of religion in them. So, students who pursue a B.S. in nursing are taught to deliver “holistic Christian care,” while students who pursue an associate’s degree in business or human services must take a core of “Bible/Christian worldview classes.” All graduates of the university are expected to “articulate a Christian worldview,” to “confirm an understanding of a saving and sanctifying knowledge of God through Jesus Christ as savior and lord,” to “affirm the Bible as the only infallible guide for Christian faith and practice,” to “demonstrate God’s love for humanity through a selfless life that seeks to reconcile the world to Christ,” and to apply “Bible-based moral values in their daily life.”

City-funded scholarships from Grove City for attending Ohio Christian University thus violate both the U.S. and the Ohio Constitutions.

“The Ohio Constitution prohibits compelling taxpayers to fund religious education,” FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne writes to Grove City Council President Roby Schottke. “And the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment strictly prohibits the government from advancing religion.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down grants to parochial schools when there is a possibility that the funds will be used to advance religion, FFRF informs Grove City. The Supreme Court has also upheld statutes that prohibit public aid to students pursuing degrees in theology. Private universities that offer no truly secular degrees are not entitled to participate in government funds, FFRF asserts.

FFRF asks Grove City to discontinue the scholarships.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to separation of state and church, with nearly 24,000 nonreligious members across the country, including more than 600 in Ohio. Ohio is an annual “top ten” offender in FFRF’s list of the states with the most state/church violations.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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