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A federal appeals court ruling that a Christian university in Colorado can receive state scholarship money is the latest in a string of legal victories for religious schools seeking public dollars.

The most recent case involved Colorado Christian University, a college of 2,000 students in suburban Denver where most students must attend chapel weekly and sign a promise to emulate the life of Jesus and biblical teachings.

Colorado Christian faculty must sign a statement that that the Bible is the "infallible Word of God."

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled Wednesday that the state of Colorado overstepped its bounds with a system allowing students to use state scholarship dollars at some religious colleges, but not those dubbed "pervasively sectarian" — a judgment that required bureaucrats to investigate such tricky criteria as whether religion courses amounted to neutral study or proselytizing.

Colorado had allowed students to use their scholarships at Methodist and Roman Catholic universities in the state, but not at a Buddhist university or at Colorado Christian, which is nondenominational.

The ruling is the latest in a series of potentially fatal blows to three decades of legal doctrine that had distinguished between religiously connected colleges that were nonetheless in the mainstream of American higher education, and those with a religious outlook that permeates every aspect of the education they offer.


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