State Funding of Devotional Studies: A Failed Jurisprudence that has Lost Its Moorings


The Court’s attitude toward the public funding of devotional studies can best be described as ambivalent. Not long ago, devotional studies were viewed as one of the few kinds of study that the State clearly could not fund. Then, the Court did an about-face, implying that public funding of devotional studies does not violate constitutional guarantees, because that kind of study cannot be distinguished for constitutional purposes from other kinds of permissibly funded areas of study. Still more recently, the Court changed course yet again, suggesting that states may but need not refuse to fund such studies, reverting to the position that there is something about devotional studies that distinguishes it from other kinds of study for constitutional purposes, while nonetheless reaffirming that this area of study is not so different that the Establishment Clause bars its being funded, at least indirectly. While the most recently articulated position seems to be a kind of compromise that neither prohibits nor requires states to provide funds for devotional studies, this newest formulation of the parameters of the Establishment Clauses is neither stable nor satisfying. The Court’s current position will likely undergo yet another transformation, making the constitutional limitations and protections in this area even murkier and more confusing.
How to Cite
. State Funding of Devotional Studies: A Failed Jurisprudence that has Lost Its Moorings. Journal of Law and Family Studies, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 1, feb. 2009. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 12 nov. 2018.