Ky. Religious Funding Suit Headed To Appeals Court

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Attorneys in a case involving a Kentucky Baptist children's program will appear before a federal appeals court this week to argue about the role of government funding for faith-based institutions.

The nine-year-old lawsuit alleges that the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children has used public dollars to indoctrinate children and fired a lesbian employee for religious reasons.

The state and the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children have disputed the claims. The Courier-Journal in Louisville reports that the agency has received more than $100 million in state funding and is the largest private provider of residential children's services in the state.

A federal judge in Louisville dismissed the case last year after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that narrowed taxpayers' rights to sue over allegations of state-sponsored religion.

The plaintiffs, who include the fired employee and a group of taxpayers, want the appeals court to reverse the district judge's dismissal, saying the Supreme Court ruling shouldn't apply to their case.

The Baptist agency fired social worker Alicia Pedreira in 1998 upon learning she was a lesbian. In 2000, she filed suit claiming religious discrimination.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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