In today’s News:
Scholarships increase for Lutheran schools
The St. Louis-based Lutheran Elementary School Association (LESA) will award a record $505,000 for need-based scholarships to help fund a 49 percent increase in qualified applications due in part to the covid-19 crisis. The increased need and funding amount mean LESA will award scholarships to 624 students of all faiths this year during the first round of awards, compared to 371 in 2019-20 school year. The additional funds were made possible by endowment earnings, extraordinary gifts from LESA’s donors, and the unprecedented success of its first-ever Cooking For Kids online auction, which raised a record $263,000 (a 25 percent increase over last year) to support scholarships and services for LESA member schools. In addition, a generous family redirected their $50,000 annual endowment gift to be applied exclusively to scholarships due to the pandemic. Since 2004, LESA has awarded more than $5.5 million in financial assistance through its building blocks scholarship fund to children of all faiths enrolled in Lutheran elementary schools. More than 8,300 students attend LESA-member Lutheran schools in the St. Louis metro area, making it the second largest private school system in the bi-state region.
Justice Department supports faith-based adoption
The U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a Catholic foster care agency because it refuses to compromise its religious beliefs by placing children with same-sex couples. The Supreme Court agreed to review Sharonell Fulton, et al. V. City of Philadelphia and oral argument is expected in the fall. In March 2018, the city canceled its contracts with Catholic Social Services due to its religious beliefs about marriage, not long after the city issued an urgent call for 300 families to provide foster care to help care for the flood of children coming into the system due to the opioid crisis. The city then prohibited Catholic Social Services from placing any more children with the families it had already certified, in order to investigate whether the agency had violated the city’s fair practices ordinance, a policy that prohibits “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” There are currently 6,000 foster children in the city of Philadelphia and dozens of families licensed to foster through Catholic Social Services who are willing to take in children. However, as a result of the city’s actions, their beds have remained empty for two years.
Senator call for investigation of speech double standards
Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri called for an investigation into free speech double standards, saying that state officials have favored protests while targeting religious freedom. Hawley asked Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice in a Tuesday letter to launch a “full civil rights investigation” into violations of “free exercise and free speech rights of religious Americans.” The move came as lawmakers such as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy refrained from telling protesters to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.