ADF attorneys: We will seek justice for Christian organization helping teens
CINCINNATI - Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed an appeal Thursday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit after a federal judge ruled that the state of Michigan was justified in ending its contract with Teen Ranch, a faith-based treatment facility for troubled teens.
"Every troubled youth should have access to the best programs available to lift them from some dire circumstances," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. "Faith-based organizations deserve a level playing field and shouldn't be singled out at the expense of the kids that choose a faith-based solution. That an organization has a faith-based element should not disqualify it from giving kids what may be their last chance."
The state disqualified Teen Ranch from its rehabilitation programs because Teen Ranch incorporated "faith-specific tenets" into its programs. A federal district court judge upheld the state's decision.
The Michigan Family Independence Agency, which oversees assignment of children in its care to residential treatment centers, cut off Teen Ranch from its placement system in October 2003.
Oster said ADF attorneys were disappointed about the lower court's decision and its impact on Teen Ranch as well as the hundreds of children helped by the organization.
"The phrase 'separation of church and state' is found nowhere in the Constitution," Oster explained. "Meanwhile, kids who would benefit from the love, care, and proven techniques of Teen Ranch are being denied what is perhaps their best chance for a productive, happy future."
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.