Written by Don Byrd

Last week, the Education Department announced its intention to dismantle regulations that restrict the ability of faith-based institutions to receive government funding. The move to ease those rules seems to be the administration’s response to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church, a case involving state grants for playground improvements.

Because the Court ruled that church playgrounds could not be excluded from grant eligibility, the Education Department argues that regulations limiting the access of faith-based institutions from federal education funding are no longer permissible. Among other things, this could mean an end to rules that prohibit federal education funding from being used for sectarian purpose at religious colleges and universities.

The NYTimes reports on the development:

The department plans to review regulations, keeping an eye out for provisions that “unnecessarily restrict participation by religious entities” and “to reduce or eliminate unnecessary burdens and restrictions on religious entities and activities,” according to the department’s explanation of its proposals.

In the case of religiously affiliated colleges and universities participating in federal student aid programs, the department said that some provisions of the Higher Education Act may be “overly broad in their prohibition of activities or services that relate to sectarian instruction or religious worship,” or “in prohibiting the benefits a borrower may receive based on faith-based activity.”

You can read the Education Department’s proposal entitled “Eligibility of Faith-Based Entities and Activities” here.

For more on the Trinity Lutheran Church case, see the Baptist Joint Committee’s resource page.