APin 07/20 0218 Catholic School Grants FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- A Washington-based group
APin 07/20 0218 Catholic School Grants
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- A Washington-based group says if the
Fort Wayne City Council approves a plan to spend $35,500 on video
equipment for two Catholic schools, the council will be violating
the U.S. Constitution.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State claims the
grants -- of $24,000 to Most Precious Blood Catholic School and
$11,500 to St. Francis College -- are unconstitutional.
Both schools would use the money to buy video equipment to
produce local educational shows for cable television.
"The U.S. Supreme Court and a host of lower federal and state
courts have ruled that the First Amendment prohibits government
at all levels from any direct aid to religious schools," wrote
Robert L. Maddox, executive director of Americans United.
Maddox wrote the letter to Mayor Win Moses Jr. and mailed
copies to City Council members.
Both schools would allow other students to use the equipment.
But Joseph Conn, spokesman for the group, predicted religious
minorities would feel intimidated.
"Would they want the Moonies and the Hare Krishnas and the
Scientologists to use the facilities?" Conn said.
Mayoral spokesman Kevin M. Purdy said the grants will benefit
all city residents, not just Catholic students.
"Those funds are not intended to promote or further a religion
or a religious cause," he said. "Those funds are for the benefit
of the community." Purdy said he knew of no local complaints
about the grants.
Sister Jean Perry, principal of Most Precious Blood, declined
Americans United will consider suing if the council approves
the grants, Maddox wrote.
The money is part of a package of grants the city makes each
year to agencies that want to improve local public TV facilities.
Comcast Cable Communications, owner of Fort Wayne's cable
system, each year pays 5 percent of its total revenue to the
city. The city earmarks 40 percent of the money for the grants.
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