Michigan Gov. Grants State Scholarship for Theology Majors

( [email protected] ) Jul 02, 2004 11:38 AM EDT

On Thursday, July 1st, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm finally approved a bill allowing state scholarships and financial aid to students majoring in theology or religious studies.

The new legislation will cover scholarship for theology majors as long as they are not planning to enter ministry.

Before the new law was passed, students in the field of theology, divinity, or religious education were banned from receiving state scholarships.

"It's as legitimate a major as engineering or Greek literature," said state Sen. Jason Allen, a Traverse City Republican and sponsor of one of the bills. "It's important, fair legislation."

While opponents of the bill argue that the legislation violates the separation of church and state, proponents say that it ends discrimination against students of religion and that majors are not necessarily going into religious life.

The new laws will affect programs including the Michigan Merit Scholarship, Michigan Educational Opportunity Grant, Michigan Competitive Scholarship, Part-time Independent Grant programs and Michigan's Tuition Grant programs.

In February, a case involving granting state scholarship to theology majors in Washington was finalized in favor of the state.

Joshua Davey, who was double majoring in theology and business sued the state of Washington for denying his scholarship. Davey complained that the state violated the free excercise of religion, but the Supreme Court ruled against Davey, saying that granting state scholarship to theology majors is a way of fostering the establishment of religion.