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Atheists sue over church-linked ranch

BISMARCK — An atheist group says North Dakota officials are using public money to religiously indoctrinate young people at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, according to a federal lawsuit.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation wants a judge to declare a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state and order the government to stop sending children or money to the ranch.

The ranch, affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has three residential facilities for troubled youth and also offers day programs.

About $7 million in federal, state and county money has gone through the Human Services Department to foster care services at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in two years, but the money is not for religious programs, said Carol Olson, executive director of the state Human Services Department.

The government money makes up about 70 percent of the organization’s budget, said Gene Kaseman, president of the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Association.


Mothers surrender in children’s fire deaths

PITTSBURGH — The mothers of five children killed in a house fire surrendered to police yesterday to face involuntary manslaughter charges for reportedly leaving the youngsters alone while they went to a bar.

Wearing a T-shirt that read “Mommy Loves You” and “God Loves You More,” Shakita Mangham, 25, arrived at municipal court early yesterday. Furaha Love, 25, turned herself in at police headquarters a short time later.

Miss Mangham initially told police that she left the children with a baby sitter, but later admitted that she lied, according to a criminal complaint. Miss Love also said later that she knew there was no baby sitter and that the children had been left in the care of two 8-year-olds.

Authorities said the early morning fire June 12 was started by children playing with matches.


Winkler moved to mental facility

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