Virginia Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Regent University Bond Case Tomorrow

Affiliate: ACLU of Virginia
June 5, 2000 12:00 am

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RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in a case challenging Regent University’s right to receive government support.

Last July, a Richmond Circuit Court judge ruled that the Virginia College Building Authority could not issue low-interest bonds for construction projects at the Christian graduate school founded by Pat Robertson, without violating the constitutional mandate for separation of church and state. Lawyers for the Building Authority then asked the Virginia Supreme Court to review the case, which it agreed to do.

“Regent University’s official documents make it absolutely clear that its primary and overriding purpose is religious,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis. “The Richmond Circuit Court saw this and refused to allow the bond to be issued. We hope the Virginia Supreme Court will see it the same way.”

According to its articles of incorporation, Regent University “shall exist for the purpose of bringing glory to God and His Son Jesus Christ by providing an institution or institutions of learning in which those who are mature in the knowledge of God and His ways can assist and guide, in a spirit of free inquiry and scholarly excellence, those would learn of Him, His ways, and His creation, while together they study ways to glorify God and better their world.”

Regent University had asked the Virginia College Building Authority to approve a $55 million bond request for construction projects. Approval of the bond would have made the university eligible for a low-interest rate that would save the school millions of dollars over the life of the loan.

“The ACLU would be the first organization to protect Pat Robertson’s right to operate a religious school without government interference, but such schools may not receive support from the state,” Willis added.

Ayesha Khan of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and ACLU of Virginia legal director Rebecca Glenberg represent Virginia taxpayers opposed to issuance of the bond. Ms. Khan will present oral arguments tomorrow.

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