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Atheism, Christianity, Politics

Private School Vouchers are NOT Separation of Church and State

From a recent Secular Coalition for America press release dated March 30:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 225 to 195 to approve legislation that would reauthorize and expand the Washington, D.C. federal private school voucher pilot program, under which millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are funneled toward private religious schools that preach religious dogma and can discriminate against staff and students. H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, will now head to the U.S. Senate.
“This legislation is a blatant violation of the separation of church and state,” said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. “The D.C. voucher program uses millions of American taxpayer dollars to fund the religious training of thousands of District students who attend private, religious institutions that do not offer students an op-out option and are exempt from federal civil rights laws.”

This one is about as simple as it gets, folks.  Your tax dollars are being used to send students from public schools to private schools.  It doesn’t get any more basic.  Tax dollars being used to pay for religious education.

From the SCA’s testimony for the House ESEA hearing:

Although a narrow majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld vouchers under certain circumstances, the Court did not rule that they were per se constitutional[ii]. One of the most dearly held principles of religious liberty is that the government should not compel any citizen to furnish funds in support of a religion with which he or she disagrees, or even a religion with which he or she does agree.[iii] In the U.S. taxpayer-funded Washington, D.C. voucher program, more than 80 percent of students attend private faith-based schools.[iv] In Arizona, more than 50 percent of taxpayer funds donated under a state assistance scholarship program in 2009 went to students who attended religious schools.[v]

This is why we need the SCA, gentle readers.  There are precious few organizations actively working to preserve what’s left of America’s secular government.   The Secular Coalition for America is a very good organization, and deserving of your support.

There’s a link on the left side of this page for the SCA.  Follow it, and send them some money.  When you consider how much funding the far right has (remember the Koch Brothers fiasco?) it seems unthinkable not to send a little support towards pretty much the only group getting in front of Congress and working for our interests, don’t you think?

Seriously.  Donate to the SCA.  It’s very important.

Here’s a link in case you can’t make it over to the sidebar.






See?  Any level of donation you want to make is good.  You can afford it.  Donate.  Help stop the insanity.

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Discussion

18 thoughts on “Private School Vouchers are NOT Separation of Church and State

  1. No; actually it’s their own taxdollars being sent to these private schools since it’s a method for allowing parents to “opt-out” of the public school nightmare.

    Posted by jonolan | April 1, 2011, 1:47 pm
  2. In Arizona, more than 50 percent of taxpayer funds donated under a state assistance scholarship program in 2009 went to students who attended religious schools.[v]

    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1769/supreme-court-arizona-vouchers-religious-schools-establishment-clause

    Posted by hambydammit | April 1, 2011, 2:42 pm
  3. No; actually it’s their own taxdollars…

    If it were their own tax dollars, they’d just pay for private school, but since they need my tax dollars to afford it, they come up with this voucher crap. No tax dollars should be spent paying for religious indoctrination.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | April 1, 2011, 2:58 pm
  4. Alex,

    Do the vouchers amount to more than their taxes for the school district? If not – and that’s the case – it’s their own money being returned to them with the proviso that it still can only be used for their kids’ education.

    They’re just opting out of the public system and being allowed not to pay for a service that they’re not using.

    hambydammit,

    Uselessly immaterial insofar as I can see; it’s not about school vouchers. It’s about specific tax credits to match donations to educational institutions.

    I suppose you Godless filth want all tax breaks for charitable donations to religious charities removed as well.

    Posted by jonolan | April 1, 2011, 3:52 pm
  5. I suppose you Godless filth want all tax breaks for charitable donations to religious charities removed as well.

    Hehe… the gloves came off fast. Yes. We want all tax breaks for churches to stop. Religion is big business, and it’s tax free. That’s wrong.

    Posted by hambydammit | April 1, 2011, 4:06 pm
  6. The gloves were never on. They never are.

    Again though, you bring up something immaterial.

    Do you or don’t you want the the tax deductions that people get for charitable contributions to religious charities abolished?

    As for your point about removing the tax exempt status from churches – sure, I’m for that…as soon as they remove it for every other non-profit entity. After all, most of them are big business as well.

    Posted by jonolan | April 1, 2011, 4:25 pm
  7. I think the case against vouchers and tax exemption of churches, will stick, I’m not too sure about charitiable/non-profit donations considering they re-imburse the cahritiable/non-profit act, not the organization.

    Such as a donation to American Atheists would be tax deductable which I as far as I can see is a non-profit organization and hence tax exempt.

    The bottom line I think is that religion shouldn’t get any special treatment. That is if they want to be non-profit and tax exempt, they have to follow the same rules as other non-profit organizations. I wouldn’t class paying for a multimillion dollar building to classify as “non-profit”

    But if you want more detail on religion and tax exemption you should ask Kent Hovind.

    Posted by cptpineapple | April 1, 2011, 5:29 pm
  8. Do the vouchers amount to more than their taxes for the school district? If not – and that’s the case – it’s their own money being returned to them with the proviso that it still can only be used for their kids’ education.
    They’re just opting out of the public system and being allowed not to pay for a service that they’re not using.

    How much fail can you put in a single post? Most schools are paid for through property taxes, so only property owners would get these vouchers?

    I’m not sure where you live, but my property taxes are no where near this high.

    Why can’t they be used to pay for homeschooling then? Oh wait, then the money couldn’t end up paying for more religious indoctrination.

    As for your point about removing the tax exempt status from churches – sure, I’m for that…as soon as they remove it for every other non-profit entity. After all, most of them are big business as well.

    Sure, that would make sense if the managers of those non-profits got to claim most of their salary as tax exempt too. I mean, if a pastor gets a housing allowance, why not the person running the local food bank? Churches should follow the same rules as every non religious non-profit, or they should be considered for profit businesses. Hell,religion is already a for profit business on Fox (I couldn’t resist).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | April 1, 2011, 9:02 pm
  9. I suppose you Godless filth

    p.s. that’s a good one. Believing in one (three) less god(s) than you makes us literally god less. I do personally feel cleaner having rid myself of childish fantasies though…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | April 1, 2011, 9:06 pm
  10. Alex,

    Sorry to disillusion you but I’m not monotheistic; as one of the Godless, you believe in the non-existence of many more than I do.

    As for using vouchers for home schooling – that’d be great and fair, but the government hates home schooling so it’ll never happen.

    As for the supposed (false) discrepancy between churches and other non-profits – the examples you cite are bogus; all the non-profits could do exactly the same thing; they just choose not to in most cases.

    The one real difference between them is that churches are not required to abide by all portions of EOC hiring practices, which makes perfect sense.

    Posted by jonolan | April 2, 2011, 6:53 am
  11. On jonolan’s blog, he wrote:

    our nation needs more people like Mike Pence, Chris Smith, and Scott Roeder. It especially needs more heroic martyrs such as Mr. Roeder who sacrificed himself in order save countless babies from Late-Term Abortion aka Partial-Birth Abortion.

    He’s a pro-terrorism fanatic and, judging from his blog, mentally ill.

    Posted by Ian | April 2, 2011, 8:13 am
  12. So this, http://www.secularnewsdaily.com/2011/03/12/public-funds-for-fred-phelps-voucher-dollars-could-go-to-religious-schools-that-teach-hate-3/, would give him no pause I’m guessing. Nice to know who your enemies are.

    p.s. No other non-profits can give their employees a salary that is mostly tax free. A pastor can get his house, clothes, cars, furniture, food, and utility bills all paid through his housing allowance, which is tax free. Other non-profits don’t choose not to, they can’t. Of course, honesty is not something one should expect from terrorist, so… yeah keep telling yourself the lies.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | April 2, 2011, 9:36 am
  13. Alex,

    No, it doesn’t give me pause at all. Better that some misuse their liberty than to strip it away from all.

    As for the supposed lies – Please! While the “parsonage exceptions” in the IRS code are specific to ordained clergy, the same sort of things can easily be provided to employees of other non-profits or even for-profit corporations.

    I have my housing, food, clothing, and transport paid for by my for-profit employers and none of it was counted towards my tax burden.

    Your complaint is based upon sophistry and your desire to destroy the free exercise of religion in America.

    This is exactly why the Godless are rarely, if ever, allowed to hold public office of any note.

    Posted by jonolan | April 2, 2011, 2:09 pm
  14. I have my housing, food, clothing, and transport paid for by my for-profit employers and none of it was counted towards my tax burden.

    Then it is illegal. There are a very small number of specific instances where employers are allowed to compensate employees without declaring the value of that compensation as taxable income.

    There is no exception for someone being paid cash and that cash being tax free simply for being for someone’s upkeep. Unless they are a preacher of course.

    This is exactly why the Godless are rarely, if ever, allowed to hold public office of any note.

    This is flat out illegal in practice, despite it being the de facto standard as applied by such bigots as yourself. Nice to know you’re honest about it though.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | April 2, 2011, 7:58 pm
  15. Alex,

    Fisrtly, there was a slight typo in my comment. I have had housing, food, clothing, and transport paid for by my for-profit employers. This is no longer the case due to changing jobs.

    Secondly, it wasn’t illegal insofar as it not being part of my tax burden. You’d obviously be surprised as what is legal under the IRS codes.

    Thirdly, you’re once again wrong. With the possible, but still to this day unchallenged in court as far as I know, state constitutions that forbid the Godless from holding office, it’s perfectly legal for Americans to forbid the Godless from being elected as long as we do it by just refusing to elect your sort.

    Posted by jonolan | April 3, 2011, 7:18 am
  16. Fisrtly, there was a slight typo in my comment. I have had housing, food, clothing, and transport paid for by my for-profit employers. This is no longer the case due to changing jobs.

    This changes nothing. Pointless much?

    Secondly, it wasn’t illegal insofar as it not being part of my tax burden. You’d obviously be surprised as what is legal under the IRS codes.

    Actually, what I said was that there are a small number of exceptions to this. So, either it was illegal, or it fell under one of those exceptions. Those exceptions do not constitute the vast majority of people, and are not relevant to the point. That being that preachers enjoy a privileged position that serves no valid purpose.

    Thirdly, you’re once again wrong. With the possible, but still to this day unchallenged in court as far as I know, state constitutions that forbid the Godless from holding office, it’s perfectly legal for Americans to forbid the Godless from being elected as long as we do it by just refusing to elect your sort.

    Good to know you can contradict yourself so quickly. It has been challenged and defeated for a state constitution to deny office to someone due to religious preference. However, you are correct that bigots are free to vote however they see fit, including according to their bigotry (most intelligent people vote according to policies, but I guess asking bigots to give up their bigotry is too much). Those two points are not related to each other.

    Hey, keep being you though, what would the world be like without flaming bigots and hateful terrorists…Oh well, life goes on until you guys get around to killing us all off for our heathen ways.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | April 3, 2011, 11:12 am
  17. I’d actually be interested in your source material for your claim that the state constitutions preventing the Godless from holding office had been overturned in court. I had not heard of such a challenge, much less verdict.

    I’d also like to know if they’re still under appeal.

    Posted by jonolan | April 3, 2011, 3:52 pm
  18. In the 1961 case Torcaso v. Watkins, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that such language in state constitutions was in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution

    Posted by hambydammit | April 3, 2011, 7:14 pm

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