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Landmark Religious Freedom Case in Maine Reaches Supreme Court

Photo by Joel Muniz via Unsplash

Landmark Religious Freedom Case in Maine Reaches Supreme Court

By Movieguide® Staff

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear arguments against a Maine law that bars parents from using state student-aid programs if their children attend faith-based schools. 

Carson v. Makin will take place on Dec. 8; the nonprofit religious freedom law firms Institute for Justice (IJ) and First Liberty Institute represent the parents pushing back against the state law. 

The attorneys who represent the families claim that the law is unconstitutional. 

“Maine families deserve the right to choose the education they believe will be best for their children, whether or not the school teaches religious values. We’re hopeful that the Supreme Court will make a decision that could open the door to better education for families not only in Maine but across the country,” plaintiff Amy Carson said

According to CBN News, in June 2020, the IJ won a similar case in Montana.  

CBN News reported

IJ won the landmark Supreme Court victory in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, in which the high court held that states violate the First Amendment when they ban public funding of religious institutions like schools.   

The high court ruled 5 to 4 if you’re going to offer a state benefit for private secular schools, you can’t ban it from their religious counterparts.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “A state need not subsidize private education. But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

However, now families in Maine face a similar attack on religious freedom. 

“By singling out religion—and only religion—for exclusion from its tuition assistance program, Maine violates the U.S. Constitution. Religious schools satisfy Maine’s compulsory education laws and meet every secular requirement to participate in the tuition assistance program, yet parents are barred from selecting them simply because they also provide religious instruction,” IJ Senior Attorney Michael Bindas noted. “That is religious discrimination, and the Constitution does not tolerate it.” 

President, CEO and Chief Counsel for First Liberty Institute Kelly Shackelford added: “Government discriminating against parents because of their religious choices for their children is not only unconstitutional, it’s wrong. We are hopeful the Supreme Court will put an end to these violations, not only for the sake of the Carsons and the Nelsons but for the sake of all parents in America.”

The battle for religious freedom continues to grow in necessity in the U.S., especially in the area of education.  

In the newest installation of the GOD’S NOT DEAD franchise, WE THE PEOPLE, the movie highlights the connection between freedom in general and freedom of education. 

A portion of the Movieguide® review reads:

GOD’S NOT DEAD: WE THE PEOPLE is the fourth in the GOD’S NOT DEAD franchise. It follows Pastor Dave and a group of Christian homeschooling parents who receive a court summons after a politically correct government inspection of their homeschooling co-op. The group trusts in God’s will and heads to Washington, D.C. to fight for their freedom to home educate their children. They face a Congressional hearing that could determine religious liberty for decades to come. Ultimately, Dave realizes he’s fighting for much more than just the rights of homeschooling, but the foundations of faith, liberty and unity that built America.

WE THE PEOPLE is a strong, patriotic movie about the Christian roots of the United States and its constitution and the importance for Americans to fight for their freedoms. While WE THE PEOPLE has some expository moments, they are augmented by its moral and faith-based content. The movie stresses the importance of the Bible, liberty, standing up to government tyranny, and honoring those people who have served to hold onto America’s freedom. MOVIEGUIDE® encourages parents to watch WE THE PEOPLE with their children.