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• A federal court in Massachusetts ruled that a state law requiring private schools to be "approved" by a public school committee impermissibly violated the religious freedom of a church school. The court observed that "when, as here, there is a conflict between an individual's constitutional rights to the free exercise of their [sic] religious beliefs and the state's compelling interest in assuring that children are educated adequately, the government must show that it is using the least restrictive means possible to satisfy its interest." The court concluded that reliance on standardized test scores and individual follow-up in appropriate cases "is a less restrictive, effective means of assuring that students are adequately educated." Since a less restrictive means of accomplishing the state's interest existed, the "approval" requirement was unconstitutional. New Life Baptist Church ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • January 1, 1988