ACLU-NJ Seeks Information About Public Funds for Private Religious Schools

May 8, 2013

NEWARK – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) filed a public records request today seeking the parameters and guidelines Gov. Chris Christie’s administration used in determining which school construction projects to fund using taxpayer dollars.

The Christie administration this week released a list of private and public universities it intends to help using money from a voter-approved bond. The list included private religious schools, such as Beth Medrash Govoha, an all-male, orthodox Jewish rabbinical school in Lakewood and Princeton Theological Seminary, which trains male and female Christian ministers.

“State funding of some of these projects raises constitutional concerns that must be addressed,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer. “The legislature should reject this funding proposal until Gov. Christie sheds more light on the criteria the state used in selecting which schools and projects to fund, and assures the public that government funding is not used to support programs that discriminate.”

Beth Medrash Govoha received $10.6 million to build a new library and academic center and Princeton Theological Seminary received $645,313 to improve the technology infrastructure of its library and other technological projects.

In addition to asking the state to provide the guidelines it used in making its funding decision, the ACLU-NJ is also seeking any applications the private institutions submitted to the state requesting the money.

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