Jewish Group Sues AmeriCorps
Oct. 04, 2002
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WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Jewish organization on Thursday sued the group that oversees AmeriCorps and other programs, alleging they are violating the Constitution by sponsoring religious teaching in some schools.
The American Jewish Congress filed the lawsuit against the Corporation for National and Community Service in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Jewish group says government support for religious instruction in sectarian schools violates the division of church and state. It wants the court to stop the practice and is seeking to cut off government funding for the national programs, including AmeriCorps.
The lawsuit was filed the same day that the Bush administration gave $25 million to 21 groups, including several that are religious.
President Bush has been pushing a ``faith-based initiative,'' which stalled in Congress because of debate over how religious programs can be given government money without violating the separation of church and state.
The American Jewish Congress alleges that the corporation provides grants to parochial institutions, including the Alliance for Catholic Education. This enables those institutions to teach Christian values to AmeriCorps participants and hold daily Mass and prayer services, the complaint said.
The Jewish group also claims that AmeriCorps members are barred from participating in religious activities.
Calls to the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Jewish group's lawyer, Marc Stern, were not immediately returned.
The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees Senior Corps, Learn and Serve America and AmeriCorps, which was founded in 1993. AmeriCorps workers help more than 2,100 charities and religious groups build affordable housing, teach skills, run after-school programs and organize disaster assistance.
Grants are distributed by AmeriCorps to nonprofit agencies.
The American Jewish Congress claims that AmeriCorps members are barred from participating in religious activities.
On the Net:
American Jewish Congress: http://www.ajcongress.org/
Corporation for National and Community Service: http://www.americorps.org/