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Supreme Court skips released-time dispute.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a South Carolina "released time" program that permits high school students to earn credits through religious classes held off campus.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July upheld the program, which since 2007 has let students receive up to two credits for off-campus religious courses taught by private instructors.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)had argued that the released-time policy endorses religion and entangles church and state.

"This is really pushing it," FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor told the Associated Press in July. "What they're teaching would not be permissible in public schools, and yet they're allowed to get academic credit."

Meanwhile, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, an ally of the Religious Right that defended the released-time program, celebrated the ruling.

"This is a big win for public school students and for religious education," said Lori Windham, Becket Fund senior counsel, in a press statement. "The Supreme Court's rejection of this case is a blow against anti-religious legal theories that would treat religion with suspicion."

Around 7,500 South Carolina public school students took off-campus Bible education classes in 2011, Grayson Hartgrove, co-founder of the Bible Education in School Time Network, told the AP. (Moss v. Spartanburg County School District 7.)
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Title Annotation:IN THE CAPITAL
Publication:Church & State
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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