Rehab Ranch Sued Over Religion

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Proponents of church and state separation have sued North Dakota for directing both money and delinquent youth to the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch – a Christian rehabilitative camp for troubled teens.

The ranch, which has provided a variety of services throughout the state since 1952 and was also named in the suit, is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is accused of requiring youth to read the Bible, attend religious services and learn Christian teachings.

Gene Kaseman, president of the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Association, told The Bismarck Tribune that the government money is not used for religious activities.

The lawsuit was filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based organization known for using the legal system to prevent the federal, state and local governments from providing public funding and support to religious organizations.

The ranch also received two earmarks totaling $650,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2006.