ACLU files suit over N.J. grants to religious schools

One woman who last year voted in favor of allowing New Jersey to borrow money for higher education now is part of a coalition suing the state over the allocation of some of those funds.

 

About $11 million of the $1.3 billion bond issue was destined for two religious schools. And that irritated Gloria Schor Andersen, a Voorhees resident who is a representative of the Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“If you’re going to give money to a sectarian school, you’re basically choosing a religion to fund,” charges Andersen, who has signed onto a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey. They’re trying to prevent the state from sending out the checks to the Princeton Theological Seminary and Beth Medrash Govorah, a yeshiva in Ocean County.

Awarding the grants to those institutions represents the start of slippery slope to undue influence between government and religious institutions, says the Rev. Craig Hirschberg, executive director of the Unitarian Universalist ministry.

“As a faith community […] we certainly support the training and education of clergy and religious leaders, and it’s important to understand that’s not that this is about,” Hirschberg said. “What we’re not supporting is having it done with public funds.”

The Princeton Theological Seminary declined a request for comment.

The Christie administration and a yeshiva representative did not return calls for comment

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.