Under New Legislation, Catholic Theology Student Would Regain State Scholarship

A Michigan college student who sued over the state's ban on financial aid for theology students will now be receiving state scholarship money.

During the 2001-2002 school year, Teresa Becker was a sophomore at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti. At that time, she qualified for $2,750 from Michigan's Competitive Scholarship Program. But when she chose theology as her major for the Fall of 2002, she was notified by the state that it was canceling her award. The next spring, she sued Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and other state officials, claiming their decision violated her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Now State Attorney D.J. Pascoe has indicated that Becker will be able to receive her scholarship for the past academic and fiscal year, provided she meets all other eligibility requirements. New legislation signed by Governor Granholm allows Becker and other students who major in theology, divinity, or religious studies to receive state financial aid.

Becker's attorney, Pat Gillen with the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, says the legislation was “a much needed correction” to the prior “discriminatory” system.

“I believe it's a victory for her [as well as] a credit to her moral courage and her religious faith,” Gillen says, adding praise for the citizens of the State of Michigan. “[W]hen they were confronted with Teresa's situation, [they] realized that it was patently unjust to strip her of her scholarship simply because she desired to study theology.”

According to the attorney, Becker was very pleased that people around the state came to her aid. “I think that she felt put-upon and that she had been stigmatized when the case began,” he says, “but she was pleasantly surprised that people were supportive of her position — and the more they learned about her position, the more supportive they were.”

Gillen says once Teresa receives the scholarship, her lawsuit will be dropped.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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