The Home School Court Report
- disclaimer -
July / August 2003

Homeschoolers shine at competitions
Ready for the new school year
Farris given prize
The tide turns with the Stumbo decision

Signs of the turning tide

Timeline of the Stumbo case

The Stumbos' thoughts
Bush signs bill to protect families

Along the way

The National Center for Home Education
Freedom Watch

Watching school choice issues
From the heart
Across the states
Members only
Active Cases
About Campus
President's page

Beyond our expectations


Prayer & Praise

a contrario sensu (on the other hand)

HSLDA social services contact policy/A plethora of forms

HSLDA legal contacts for March/April 2003



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Religious Freedom Protection Act becomes law

On December 9, 2002, Pennsylvania joined a growing number of states enacting religious freedom laws by passing the Religious Freedom Protection Act. The new law adopts the compelling interest test in all cases in which the free exercise of religion is substantially burdened. In order to justify a law which substantially burdens a person's right to free exercise of religion, the state must prove that it is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling state interest. If a person's exercise of religion has been burdened in violation of the Act, the person may assert the violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding. Other states which have passed religious freedom acts in recent years include Texas, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho, Florida, Connecticut, Arizona, and Alabama.

Some homeschooling parents in Pennsylvania believe the requirements of the home education statute substantially burden the free exercise of their sincerely held religious beliefs. For these parents, full compliance with state law prevents them from exercising God-given authority over the education of their children. Further, while the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1972 case of Wisconsin v. Yoder that the state has a compelling interest (literacy and self-sufficiency) in the education of children, it can be argued that the requirements of the home education statute go beyond the least restrictive means of fulfilling the state's interest.

Home School Legal Defense Association member families who believe they may qualify for a religious exemption to compliance with Pennsylvania's home education statute should consult with us about their rights under this new law.

Dewitt T. Black