Press Release

Religious parents & schools take state to court for punishing religious education Minnesota politicians in court for excluding religious schools from high school college credit program

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – A group of Christian parents and schools filed a lawsuit today challenging an amendment to Minnesota law that strips some religious universities of their ability to offer free on-campus college credits to high school students. In Loe v. Walz, two Christian families want to use funding from Minnesota’s Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program for their kids to attend two colleges of their choice in the state to get a head start in higher education. They are unable to do so, however, because Minnesota has removed religious schools’ eligibility in the program if they require a statement of faith from students. 

Minnesota created the PSEO program nearly 40 years ago to encourage and enable high school juniors and seniors to earn college credit without having to take on additional debt. Students are able to attend any eligible institution that aligns with what they want for an educational experience. Melinda and Mark Loe and Dawn Erickson are parents in Minnesota. Their older children have used their PSEO funds at two outstanding Christian schools—the University of Northwestern – St. Paul and Crown College—that uphold their religious values. Their current high-school aged children are now being barred from the schools of their choice because of Minnesota’s new ban on colleges with statements of faith.  

Today, Minnesota governor Tim Walz signed a bill into law that amends the law governing PSEO to exclude religious schools like Northwestern and Crown from participating because they require a statement of faith from those students who chose to attend their on-campus programs. The statements simply ask students to affirm the schools’ religious beliefs for the purpose of upholding their Christian communities. Other schools are free to create the campus environment they want to attract students with shared values and interests.  Minnesota’s sudden change to the law hurts students who want to attend schools that uphold their religious values–schools that have attracted thousands of Minnesota high school students over the past three and a half decades.  

With the help of Becket, these families and schools asked a federal court to strike down this new discriminatory law. Minnesota cannot deny religious students the learning environments they prefer just because they are religious, nor can they exclude schools from participating in the program because of the schools’ religious practice. The Supreme Court has consistently and recently affirmed that public benefits that are open to private secular organizations must also be open to religious ones.  

Statements for media use: 

Mark and Melinda Loe:
“The PSEO program guarantees all students equal opportunity to pursue excellent academics at a school of their choice. It gave our older children a head start on college in Christ-centered communities at Northwestern and Crown. All we want is for the rest of our children to have the same opportunity to be educated in an environment consistent with their religious beliefs. Rather than discriminating against people of faith, Minnesota should be looking for ways to help all students find a school that best fits their interests and values.” 

Corbin Hoornbeek, president at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul:  

“Northwestern exists to provide Christ-centered education, equipping students to grow intellectually and spiritually, to serve effectively in their professions, and to give God-honoring leadership in the home, church, community, and world. As the largest PSEO provider in Minnesota, Northwestern desires to continue helping on-campus PSEO students flourish in preparation for the next chapter of their academic journey. We’re hopeful that the court will uphold our ability to do so, just like any other Minnesota school is permitted to do.” 

Andrew Denton, president of Crown College: 

“For over 100 years, Crown College has remained a boldly Christian college dedicated to our mission to provide a biblically based education.  The First Amendment protects our current and future PSEO students’ right to participate in PSEO without abandoning our faith.  Even in the face of legislation designed to hinder students who want the education we provide, we remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting our mission and our community’s deeply held religious beliefs” 

Diana Thomson, senior counsel at Becket: 

“Minnesota politicians just slammed the door on thousands of kids in their state who want to get a head start on college, all because the schools they want to attend share their religious beliefs. That decision is not only patently anti-religious; it is also against the law. We are confident this ban will not stand for long.”  


Photo courtesy of Fotofilm Studios LLC.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.Interviews can be arranged in English, Mandarin, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.