I often get e-mails from people that are very frustrated with the Christian Facility that they work for because it is just not Christian enough for them. I am sorry to say that the situation is only going to get worse. I have been following a court case for the last few years and it has reached its end since the Supreme Court has decided not to hear it.
The Case is: Teen Ranch, et al. v. Udow I will give you links for the court documents so you can read it in detail, but it basically boils down to this. Teen Ranch, a facility that has been serving teen through the state since 1966 sued the State of Michigan Family Independence Agency (FIA) because they issued “a moratorium on further placements” of children with the agency. When they (the FIA) stopped placing children with Teen Ranch, Teen Ranch lost their major source of funding and eventually had to close. I am NOT a lawyer, but it appears to me by reading the court documents, that FIA believed “that Teen Ranch coerced children into participating in religious activities.” and wanted them to stop the “incorporation of religious practices into its programming“.
Teen Ranch felt that this was a violation of their “First Amendment” rights and filed a lawsuit against the FIA. They also felt it was a violation of other consitutional rights, but the main point is the free speech issue. Teen Ranch stated that they did not force the children in their care to participate in religious activities and therefore met their contractual obligation with the state and was unwilling to change its practices.
“On September 29, 2005, the district court issued an opinion granting summary judgment in favor of the FIA.” On January 17, 2007 the UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT agreed with the District Court. Teen Ranch then filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court, who decided not to hear the case in December 2007. Apparently I am a little slow in getting up to date since it is now August 2008.
Anyway, what I think all this means is that most Christian facilities (or any faith based facility) will continue to be allowed to care for youth in state care at state expense, provided they limit the “religious activities” in their programs. I think in most cases, Facilities that want to include their faith or religious beliefs as part of their program are going to have to be completely funded without any government subsidy. In the facility that I work at, we cannot even have state placed children, period, even though we take NO government funding. I think more and more faith based facilities are going to have to make choices between their faith and their budgets, because this case is only going to further restrict how faith based organizations operate if they accept government funding.
For further reading on this case check out the following links: