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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Back to school for Augusta, Wis., churches

St. Paul Lutheran, Augusta, Wis., is one of six congregations set to participate in a plan allowing students an hour per week of religious instruction at churches. Richard Kittilstad, pastor of St. Paul, said the school board superintendent and ministerium developed the plan to provide "values instruction" for kindergarten through 12th-grade students. Youth may sign up to go to a church or spend the hour in study hall.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the program violates the separation of church and state. But Kittilstad said the state is required to provide release time for religious instruction and the program is a free exercise of religious belief — a right guaranteed by the Constitution. He calls it an "opportunity for evangelism" among the community's unchurched and parishioners unable to attend Sunday school.


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