Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
A federal appeals panel has struck down Iowa’s state funding of an evangelical Christian prison program as a violation of constitutional mandates of church and state separation. It is one of a just a handful of appellate rulings since the U.S. Supreme Court curtailed taxpayer standing to challenge presidentially-approved, faith-based funding earlier this year, in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 433 U.S. 989. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Dec. 3 is a boost for taxpayers because the unanimous panel held Americans United for Separation of Church and State had standing to sue under a legal exception protecting taxpayer rights to question legislatively mandated faith-based funding. Making the decision all the more intriguing, it was joined by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, sitting as a visiting judge, in Americans United v. Prison Fellowship Ministries, Inc., 06-2741. In addition, the panel held that the evangelical group performed as a state actor with control over inmates. Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries operated InnerChange Freedom Initiative. Colson, a former aide to President Richard Nixon, went to prison for obstruction of justice in the 1970s and was accused of political dirty tricks during the Watergate era. He became an evangelical while in prison. Iowa has funded the program since 2000 roughly $200,000 per year at one prison. The appeals court held that InnerChange only had to return funds paid since 2006, rather than back to 2000 as the lower court originally ordered. The taxpayer challenge asserted that inmates who volunteered for the Bible study received perks that included better housing and preferential access to classes needed for parole.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.