Appeals court upholds off-campus religious classes

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A federal appeals court has upheld a South Carolina school district program that allows high school students to earn elective credit through an off-campus religious course. Supporters of the program said Monday the decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will likely prompt more districts to offer the option to students. The appeals court ruled last week that Spartanburg District 7 properly accommodated religion without establishing it, acting within the First Amendment. The district adopted the program in 2007 after legislators passed the “released time credit act,” which they hoped districts would use as a template. The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation and the parents of two Spartanburg High students sued in 2009. South Carolina remains the only state with a law specifically allowing the off-campus religious credit.

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