AJC Disappointed with Decision on AmeriCorps Education Awards Program

AJC Disappointed with Decision on AmeriCorps Education Awards Program

March 8, 2005 -  New York — The American Jewish Committee expressed disappointment regarding today’s U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decision upholding the constitutionality of a provision of the AmeriCorps program that allows individuals to fulfill their service requirement as teachers in religious schools. AJC filed an amicus brief with the court in November of last year, arguing that the funding of religious instruction is unconstitutional.

AJC urged the court to strike down that portion of the program because it results in impermissible government indoctrination of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In some cases, the brief notes, "religious institutions actually use AmeriCorps participants and grant funds for religious instruction and activities."

"A staunch defender of church-state separation as the surest guarantor of religious liberty, AJC opposes government funding of educational programs and social services for inherently religious activities — such as religious instruction, worship, or proselytizing, as both unconstitutional and bad public policy," said Jeffrey Sinensky, AJC's general counsel.

In July 2004, a lower court ruled against the AmeriCorps program, which subsequently appealed the decision. AJC joined with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Anti-Defamation League, and People for the American Way Foundation in filing its amicus brief in Corporation for National and Community Service v. American Jewish Congress.

Contact: Kenneth Bandler (212) 891-6771 PR@ajc.org

        Lisa Fingeret Roth (212) 891-1385 rothl@ajc.org
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