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Minnesota backs off on challenging religious education

A lawsuit inspired the state to end efforts barring faith-based high school students from earning college credits.

(Illustrative) Student with book. Credit: Pixabay.
(Illustrative) Student with book. Credit: Pixabay.

A new law that sought to prevent teenagers attending parochial institutions from participating in Minnesota’s Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program now will no longer be enforced. 

Loe v. Walz included Christian families and schools who jointly opposed a recent amendment to PSEO that would have excluded any educational organization which required a student to profess a faith. As the lawsuit proceeds in federal court, the state has agreed not to enforce it.

The program has operated for almost 40 years to encourage high school juniors and seniors to earn free college credits.

Mark and Melinda Loe, the lead plaintiffs who filed on behalf of their high-school-aged children, hoped that the law would ultimately be struck down. In a statement, they said: “We are glad that Minnesota has agreed not to punish our children and many students like them for wanting to learn at schools that reflect their values. They should be able to pursue the same great opportunities as all other students in the state without politicians in St. Paul getting in the way.” 

Diana Thomson, the Loes’ legal counsel, said: “It’s not every day that a state asks a federal court to tie its hands to prevent it from enforcing its own anti-religious law—but Minnesota has done just that. As this effort to walk back demonstrates, the state didn’t do its homework before it passed this unconstitutional law. The next step is for the court to strike down this ban for good.”

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