S.C. Students Can Continue Taking Religion Courses

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High school students in South Carolina will be allowed to continue earning credits by taking off-campus religion courses after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on the matter.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with the parents of two Spartanburg High School students, challenged the policy in 2009, claiming the school district was unconstitutionally endorsing religion.

In July, a Federal Appeals Court upheld a lower court decision in favor of the program.

The FFRF expressed disappointment with the high court's decision Tuesday, calling the credits for the religion courses a "sham."

"What's next, credits for attending Sunday School?" The Herald Online quoted FFRF co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor. "This was an unwise decision and one that we thought the Supreme Court would be particularly interested in, but it's a sham that this is still allowed to happen."

But school district officials say the policy is based on a South Carolina law allowing elective credits for off-campus religion courses provided they're evaluated using secular criteria.

"We were awfully confident after the first (court) ruling, so it was an affirmation of what we already knew, and that is we were operating within district policy and state law," District 7 Superintendent Russell Booker told the Herald.

"This has been going on for some time, so it feels good because this is the end of the lawsuit," he said.

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