Online Exclusive: Theology students not denied aid in D.C.

While the Supreme Court decided last month to uphold Washington state's decision to deny state financial aid to college theology students, this ruling will not affect colleges in D.C.

According to the D.C. education office, 37 states have similar laws though D.C. is not one of them.

Nevertheless, the decision has ignited a debate as to whether the court fairly prevented the state from supporting the church, or if this is a new form of discrimination.

"I think it takes that law to an extreme," said James Ridout, a student at Wesley Theological Seminary, next door to AU. "A lot of people depend on grants for an education. I'm surprised more than anything and disappointed."

However, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of the D.C.-based watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a press release, "Americans clearly have a right to practice their religion, but they can't demand that the government pay for it." AU students also disputed the issue.

"I think the Court was simply extending the longstanding precedent of separation between Church and State," said Rachel Gedid, a senior in the School of Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences.

Angela Goerner, a sophomore in the School of Communication, disagreed. "I think they should get financial aid. It's a degree like any other," she said. "Furthermore, I believe that everybody should have the equal right to get financial aid in the United States"

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