Crown College joins federal lawsuit in pursuit of religious liberty in response to new PSEO eligibility rules

Crown College has joined a group of Minnesota parents and students and Northwestern in a federal lawsuit Loe v. Walz, filed Wednesday that challenges an amendment to a new Minnesota law that strips some faith-based universities of their ability to offer on-campus college credits to high school students.

Earlier today, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill into law that amends the state’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) eligibility rules to exclude Christian colleges and universities such as Crown and Northwestern due to their requirement of a statement of faith from students who attend on campus. The statements simply ask students to affirm the schools’ religious beliefs for the purpose of upholding their Christian communities. The new eligibility language reads:

An eligible institution must not require a faith statement from a secondary student seeking to enroll in a postsecondary course under this section during the application process or base any part of the admissions decision on a student’s race, creed, ethnicity, disability, gender, or sexual orientation or religious beliefs or affiliations.

Crown College has proudly served PSEO students for over two decades. The state-funded program, which was created in 1985, encourages and enables high school juniors and seniors to earn college credit without having to take on debt. Students are able to attend any eligible institution that aligns with what they want for an educational experience. Minnesota’s new ban on colleges with statements of faith will now bar high-school-aged children from attending the schools of their choice.

“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 communities deeply held religious beliefs.”

The individual plaintiffs in Loe v. Walz have high-school-aged children who are now being barred from the schools of their choice because of Minnesota’s new ban on colleges with statements of faith. 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, such as those in this lawsuit, who want to attend schools that uphold their religious values–schools that have attracted thousands of Minnesota high school students over the years.

With the help of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Crown, Northwestern, and the individual families have asked a federal court to strike down the new discriminatory law. Crown College believes this legislation discriminates against high school students who wish to join a learning environment of their choice simply because of their religious beliefs. Crown also believes Minnesota cannot exclude schools from participating in the program due to their Christian beliefs. The U.S. Supreme Court has both consistently and recently affirmed that public benefits that are open to private secular organizations must also be open to those of a religious nature.