Religious Right Groups File Briefs to Defend Colson Prison Program
A slew of Religious Right organizations have filed legal briefs opposing Americans United's position in an Iowa case challenging taxpayer funding of a prison program anchored in evangelical Christianity.
A federal court in Iowa ruled in Americans United's favor June 2 in Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries. U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt ruled that the state violated church-state separation by funding a program that is immersed in a conservative form of Christianity.
The case challenges tax support of Charles Colson's InnerChange program, which AU argues is designed to further evangelical Christianity. AU does not oppose private funding of the program but says taxpayers should not be expected to pay for religious conversions.
In his ruling, Pratt ordered Prison Fellowship to repay $1.5 million in tax money it has received.
Leaders of Religious Right organizations were furious about the ruling and immediately attacked it, often distorting the judge's findings. They hope the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will overturn the decision.
Groups filing briefs in support of InnerChange include TV preacher Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's Foundation for Moral Law, the Iowa Family Policy Center and "Christian nation" activist David Barton's WallBuilders. …