Far-left governor promotes preschool funding, classes now include Bible lessons


A far-left governor, Colorado’s Jared Polis, worked for years to establish a statewide universal preschool program for children.

Now classes that are being funded by a nicotine tax are including lessons from the Bible.

The result developed because bureaucrats in Colorado were unable to set up rules for the hundreds of preschools serving tens of thousands of children right away, and the fears there could be lawsuits if they discriminate against faith-based institutions.

A new report at Chalkbeat profiles the state’s dilemma.

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One of the institutes including Bible instructions is Landmark Preschool, inside Landmark Baptist Church in Grand Junction.

This year it’s getting some $100,000 tax funding for 20 preschoolers to attend there, and hear Bible lessons.

The state invited faith-based preschools to participate in its new $322 million universal preschool program.

But state officials have delivered confusing instructions on religious instruction, despite the Supreme Court’s clear ruling that faith organizations cannot be denied access to generally available public programs solely because of their faith.

The report said, “Prior to the launch, they said it was forbidden. Now, they say it’s not, but that next year it could be.”

Colorado’s Constitution may end up in court, as it bans using public money for religious purposes, an offense to the Supreme Court’s precedents in recent years.

Further, the state already is being sued for demanding that faith organizations agree to not discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The report noted, “Colorado early childhood officials have proposed a ban on religious instruction in a set of rules they plan to approve next spring. It’s not clear where that would leave programs like Landmark, where leaders hope to open two additional universal preschool classrooms next year.”

But it could end up before a judge and jury, as the Supreme Court as recently as last year said in a Maine case, the state “could not exclude schools that offer religious instruction from a state-funded program open to secular private schools.”

The report noted the Supreme Court “has mostly invalidated state constitutional provisions that prohibit public funds for religious purposes. Now, such provisions — often referred to as Blaine amendments — are ‘pretty much unenforceable.'”

Michael Bindas of the Institute for Justice said the high court has made clear that asking faith-based schools to eliminate religious instruction during state-funded class time amounts to religious discrimination.

He said Colorado could adopt such discriminatory rules, but it then probably would be tied up in the courts for years.

Today, about 40 of the school’s 1,900 preschools are faith-based, and they serve almost 1,000 children.

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