(HARRISBURG, PA – September 13, 2023) Today, the Independence Law Center was in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania defending Joy El Ministries in the case, CBM Ministries v. DOT et al, involving misplaced government mandates that are hindering this ministry’s ability to operate a popular “released time” program.
The following may be attributed to Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel for the Independence Law Center, who presented the arguments in today’s case:
In Pennsylvania, as in many other states, there is a law allowing for “released time” for public school students to receive religious instruction outside of school during the school day.
For decades, the Pennsylvania State Police and PennDOT recognized that groups like Joy El Ministries may provide bus transportation for students to attend “released time” programs — only so long as they didn’t call their buses “school buses” or include equipment like flashing lights. But suddenly they reversed course, grounding many of their buses and drivers for not complying with the heightened standards only necessary for picking up and dropping off children along roadways —something Joy El does not do.
Not only are they applying irrelevant, inapplicable laws, but the State Police have gone so far as to interfere with a school releasing their students for this released time program.
My client operates a wonderful ministry, and sadly, this case has been dragging on for years. After today’s arguments, we are hopeful for a good outcome.
Independence Law Center is a leading constitutional civil rights law firm.