Actually, their responses illustrate exactly why this lawsuit is so important. None of the commentators seemingly bothered to consider whether the North Dakota program was effective in rehabilitating youth. And that reflects a general pattern in our country: Faith-based programs are regularly exempted from rigorous empirical evaluation. If it's stamped "faith-based," its efficacy is presumed.
In fact, no government official has ever demonstrated the efficacy of faith-based programs over non-faithbased programs. It has been an unsubstantiated assertion from the start. What evidence is offered by program promoters is usually unscientific testimonies and hearsay, or a sidestepping of the issue completely by claiming inestimable (and undefined) spiritual benefits that cannot be measured empirically.
That's passing the buck. And that's not the stated purpose these programs have been charged to fulfill.
When government officials are willing to exempt programs from evaluation, it just invites rogues and scam artists to steal from the public trough.
Another issue: If religious groups are offering these programs as an extension of their own personal ministries, shouldn't they be paying for these programs from their own funds? If these programs are based on their religious beliefs, and if they are being called by their faith to provide these programs, why should they be relying on funds from non-believing taxpayers to make it happen?
Both of these issues raise the stink of hypocrisy and corruption. The fact that government and religious leaders appear to willfully disregard them is infuriating to those who expect accountability for tax monies spent. When reason fails to persuade, the only argument left is to challenge such programs on 1st Amendment grounds.