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Michigan ACLU Protests Religious Prison College

The ACLU of Michigan has sent a complaint to the attorney general's office against Spring Arbor College, which holds a $560,000 DOC contract to teach college courses at four Michigan state prisons. The complaint was filed after the school sent out letters to prospective faculty stating they would only hire "active Christians who embrace Jesus Christ in their everyday living and have a Master's Degree in the area they will be teaching."

The ACLU has pointed out that state law requires all state contracts to contain a clause that the contractor does not discriminate on the basis of religion or any other factors. The college denied that it does any proselytizing among prisoners and states that it is simply a Christian school that wants to employ Christian teachers. The ACLU maintains that the school is an unqualified bidder based on its religious discrimination. As a practical matter, taxpayer money should not be used to finance religious institutions-- that is what the separation of church and state is all about. While free citizens may choose to go to religious schools, prisoners have no choice in what schooling they attend; they must attend what the DOC provides them or go without. The DOC did not respond to media inquiries for comment.

Source: Jackson Citizen Patriot, 9-22-95.

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