A Jesuit college in St. Louis just won a Missouri Supreme Court case allowing them to get public money, $8 million of it, for their college. Not being one that believes public money should be spent in support of religion, I was aghast.
“How could that possibly happen?” you might say. The answer is rather interesting. The Jesuits claimed that although it was a Jesuit university (St. Louis University), they didn’t actually govern the school. No matter that they teach religion, that guys wearing dressing gowns and sandals, and women wearing wimples do some of the teaching, and I’d be surprised if they would grant tenure to someone who was as anti-religion as I am, they claim not to be actually governing the school.
Judge Mary Russell, who wrote for the majority (6-1 decision, a Jewish judge was the only hold out), said, ” The bylaws show a motivation to act under Jesuit or Catholic ideals or beliefs, but aspiration to ideals does not equate to the kind of control of a univeristy’s operation or management that is proscribed by Missouri’s establishment clause.”
I think what she is saying is that the university tries to be Jesuit, but doesn’t do it very well. Apparently that is what the Jesuits claimed, and the Court bought the argument. Well, actually Missourians bought the argument since they get to pay for the university’s new gym.
The holdout Judge, Richard Teitelman, (who by the way faced a nasty re-election not long ago because he was the only non-Christian on the Missouri Supreme Court bench), said it best: “The languge in the bylaws is not simply a matter of St. Louis University’s affiliation or tradition; it is a matter of the university’s identity and governance.”
And by the way, there never was a trial in this matter. It was one of “summary judgment” meaning basically that no evidence was needed, it was decided as a matter of law.