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6/15/2005

Evangelical Bible School Gets 1 Million of Your Dollars

A Christian "school" and I use the word school in only the broadest sense of the word, has received $1 million in federal money in the last two years. The name of the school is the Alaska Christian College. Again, college is a generous name for this institution.

Now the federal government is allowed to give grant money to religious schools, but it must be used for secular purposes, which seems unlikely in this case considering this un-accredited school does not even offer degrees. No, you get a certificate in biblical studies after completing one year and a certificates in biblical studies and general studies if you stick it out for two years.

Now why should the federal government be in the business of subsidizing bible study? They shouldn't.

This is even more amazing when you consider the enrollment at this bible study school. 37. That's it. 37. You heard me. $1 million on 37 bible studying students. That's about $27,000 per student. $27,000 per student for 37 students to get a certificate in biblical studies. That's $27,000 per student in taxpayer money. If you say it enough it really starts to sound amazing.

As the Anchorage Daily News astutely points out,

"Alaska's congressional delegation might just as well have put a $1 million check in the church collection plate."

Where did the money come from?

"The money has come in chunks, the most recent of which -- $430,000 -- was buried in a catch-all spending bill Congress approved last year. That money came out of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, an obscure government program"

Alaska's Representative in the House, Don Young took credit for this grant in a
press release on November 23, 2004.

"I am pleased that we were able to work out agreeable terms in this short 'Lame Duck' session. Now we can present the President with a bill for his signature that will keep America running."

Yeah, America would come to a screeching halt if this bible study group didn't get their $430,000 from the federal government.

The very next item listed on that press release was this.

"$33,000 to the University Of Washington School Of Medicine for the Alaska Medical student participation in the WWAMI rural training program "

OK. So to recap. $430,000 for 37 students to study the bible and $33,000 for the school of medicine to teach students how to administer health care in rural areas. Interesting set of priorities there.

How does this funding compare with federal dollars received by actual colleges in Alaska? Funny you should ask.

Here is part of another Rep. Don Young press release, this one dated March 30, 2005.

$217,251 grant to the University of Alaska Anchorage

$220,000 grant to the University of Alaska Fairbanks

$220,000 grant to the University of Alaska Southeast

In a real shocker, Rep. Young did not return phone calls to the Washington Post seeking comment on a story they where doing on this issue in May.

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