WASHINGTON, February 27, 2004 ( – The US Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states do not have to honor tax-funded scholarships for students enrolled in theology programs. The case grew out of a dispute between Joshua Davey, the recipient of a state scholarship, and the state of Washington after Davey chose Pastoral Ministry as a double major along with Business Management/ Administration. Because he chose to study Pastoral Ministry, Davey was stripped of his state scholarship.

Davey received a $1,125 scholarship in 1999 but was denied its use when he told school officials at the Northwest College in Kirkland, Washington that he planned to pursue theology as a double major.  Davey lost his original suit in a district court against the state of Washington, but later won an appeal at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who overturned the earlier decision, ruling that state policy was unconstitutional.  The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which represented Davey, argued that the State of Washington’s policy wrongly disqualifies students from receiving scholarship funds if they choose to major in theology taught in a way the State of Washington deems unacceptable. The Law Center brief further pointed out that this view rests upon an arbitrary and perverse assumption that the few thousand dollars a student receives will be used to pay for Theology instruction-as opposed to the countless secular expenses students incurs in pursuing their undergraduate degree.

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