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Judge Rules Colorado Can't Block Funding for Preschools with Biblical Beliefs

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A federal court in Colorado ruled Tuesday that the state's decision to exclude Catholic preschools from receiving funding was unconstitutional. 

Becket Law, a non-profit legal group, filed a federal lawsuit against Colorado last August on behalf of two Catholic preschools to protect the ability of families who send their children to Catholic schools to participate in the state's universal preschool program (UPK).

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Denver's Department of Early Childhood provides funding for 15 hours per week of free preschool to the more than 40,000 families attending private, public, and faith-based preschools in Colorado. 

However, it denied that benefit to families who sent their children to St. Mary Catholic Parish and St. Bernadette's Catholic preschools because the preschools asked staff and families to share their religious beliefs. 

The staff at both schools are required to sign annual contracts that affirm their willingness to uphold Catholic teaching on issues including life, marriage, and sexuality. In addition, families agree that they understand the Catholic church's stance on such matters. 

St. Mary Catholic Parish and St. Bernadette's Catholic preschools serve low-income families. Nearly 85% of families who attend St. Bernadette Parish preschool are eligible for free or reduced lunch and 25% of St. Mary's preschoolers receive tuition discounts or scholarships, according to the Archdiocese of Denver.

In a 101-page opinion, the court explained that Colorado's effort to exclude the schools because they required families to share their beliefs "created an unworkable scheme that breaches the appropriate limits on state power" and they did not provide enough "compelling interest" for excluding the schools.  

"The department has allowed faith-based providers to deny children and families equal opportunity based on their religious affiliation, or lack thereof," wrote Colorado district judge John Kane, "and has cited no compelling interest for permitting that discrimination while denying plaintiffs' request for a related exemption."

Archdiocese of Denver Catholic preschools will now be allowed to participate in the UPK program. 

"Families should be free to choose to send their kids to a Catholic preschool without forfeiting a public benefit—especially one the government has described as 'universal,'" said Becket Law in a press release. 

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.