(RNS) A federal judge has ordered the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to halt funding of a faith-based Milwaukee program that helps troubled fathers with job training and drug treatment.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued the order Tuesday (Jan. 8) after a lawsuit was filed by the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation opposing money going to the Faith Works program, the Associated Press reported.

During his presidential campaign, President Bush visited the program. Faith Works receives grants from the state workforce development department and has a contract with the state corrections department to run a halfway house that provides 24-hour supervised residential care. In her ruling, Crabb said the grants from the Department of Workforce Development were unconstitutional because they amount to "unrestricted, direct funding of an organization that engages in religious indoctrination."

The judge ordered a trial to determine the constitutionality of the contract that Faith Works has with the state Department of Corrections. Anne Nicol Gaylor, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said the program was "drenched with religion." "For a private program to operate that way is fine. Go right ahead, but don't expect public taxpayers to proselytize for you, to line up converts," she said.

The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, hailed the decision. "It is ... a major blow to President Bush's `faith-based initiative,'" Lynn said in a statement. "The provisions of the Bush initiative that offer funding of religion are now clearly unconstitutional, as many of us have been saying all along."

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