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No More Discrimination Against Religious Schools

Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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22 Comments
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Religious

In a ground-breaking case called Carson v. Makin, originating in rural Maine, the Supreme Court last week made clear States giving tuition assistance cannot discriminate against parochial or religious schools – just because they offer religious education. Hooray for common sense!

In short, three families challenged Maine’s restriction on use of K-12 education vouchers. The State, since 1873, has allowed school “choice.” Families living in a place without a public school (half the state) could choose to send their children to a public or private school, in-state or out. Simple, fair, good.

In 1980, a Democrat Attorney General, selected by a Democrat-controlled legislature – Maine is the only state where the legislature picks the AG – decided to add a “non-sectarian” requirement. This upended 100 years of educational practice, forcing parents NOT to send kids to schools teaching religious values.

The parents in Carson v. Makin challenged this notion, asking: “If our neighbors have the freedom to choose a private school and receive tuition from our town, why are we denied this same benefit just because we desire a religious education for our daughter?”

What these parents asked – and the ruling resolved – has national significance. As public schools increasingly discriminate against students, parents, and families of faith, restricting free exercise of religion, pushing secularism over moral values taught by many faiths, parents are objecting.

Across the country, public schools – dominated by secularist, increasingly unconnected, often left-leaning teachers’ unions, many not out of touch with parents, some openly hostile to traditional values, objective and non-politicized history, basic math, biology, established law, even Title IX – are no longer the first choice of concerned parents.

Accordingly, a case challenging rising anti-religious, anti-faith sentiment in public education was timely. Shouldn’t parents have a right to protect their children from indoctrination by leftist ideas, anti-religious teachings, racism through Critical Race Theory, dumping Title IX – which has long given biologically different boys and girls equality in sports and academics? Had they no rights?

While the First Circuit sided with the State, effectively ignoring discrimination against “free exercise of religion” by public schools, which often effectively “establish” a secularist religion, the Supreme Court looked harder at the facts, and applied a combination of text and case law to reverse.

What the Supreme Court said, without hedging their bets, is that all parents – and not left-leaning school systems, administrators, state legislators, or attorneys general – get to decide how their children will be educated.

Returning to how education was managed for most of our country’s history, not just in Maine but nationally, the Supreme Court reset the table. In a 6-3 opinion, which split on judicially conservative versus judicially activist lines, the High Court favored the parents’ choice.

Citing prior caselaw, the Court found Maine’s discrimination against schools with religious instruction violated the First Amendment’s “free exercise clause.” The opinion is cogent, clear, and compelling.

The majority writes: “…a neutral benefit program in which public funds flow to religious organizations through the independent choices of private benefit recipients does not offend the Establishment Clause,” adding that prior cases make clear the outcome turns “on the substance of free exercise protections, not on the presence or absence of magic words,” such as words that restrict the right by state law.

The point made is that covering up discrimination against those who live life by religious precepts, people of faith, by claiming to be “religiously neutral,” is really a half-truth, foil, way of dismissing those of faith, or rendering them “second class citizens” – by elevating those of non-faith and teaching that this is proper. The Constitution does not ask that people of faith by demoted, just that the government does not “establish” one religion for all people, such as the Church of England.

The dissent in this case is also revealing. Using the Jeffersonian warning that church and state be separated, a concept often (perhaps intentionally) misunderstood, the dissent tries to split hairs unable to be spilt. They say money can go to a school of “religious character” but not one that teaches “religious ideals.” 

The comeback is simple. Religious character involves ideals, and these are – by the way – the ideals that created, sustained, and today keep society together. To pretend these ideals – especially chosen by parents of a child for the child’s education – are somehow mischievous, unworthy, wrong because they stem from a religious source, or insufficiently secular, is hokum.

The dissent’s idea that “religiously neutral” values should be taught is a poor disguise for a secular, anti-religious, political agenda. To believe that teaching “woke-ism,” socialism, Marxism, racism, and anti-faith-ism is what parents signed up for, want, must accept is legal nonsense.

This case is important – because it opens the door of freedom wide, affirming the rights of parents, students, communities, and all those Americans – more than 250 million – who believe in God, who believe values taught by their faith matter, and who wish to impart to their children respect for these values, including at school. More, it disposes of the idea that atheism, statism, leftism, and disparagement of religion is ascendant. Quite the reverse – it is unconstitutional.

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Hal
Hal
2 years ago

Hmmm. Now the Commie DemocRat Party will go into the function of subsidizing religious schools who will subtly teach their Party Doctrines as a part of their curriculum. And of course, the DemocRats will provide the funds to subsidize them from government taxes. Never forget … the DemocRat Party is about RULING the people … not GOVERNING the people based on a Constitutional Democracy and the Constitutional laws that are produced as needed in accord with the Constitutional dictates.

Donald Lonhart
Donald Lonhart
2 years ago

About time !!

PaulE
PaulE
2 years ago

I’m sure the Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats will try to draft some federal legislation that ties forced acceptance of all aspects of the “woke culture” and usage of the federal “progressive” education guidelines to any federal money that any of schools might be reliant on. If the Democrats can’t stop school choice directly, then they just will come at the issue from another angle by trying to federally mandate any federal money received by these schools being tied directly to completely adopting the socialist agenda via the back door. The fight for school choice in this country is far from being over. The left in this country is fully committed to ensuring the indoctrination of the young to socialism, whatever it happens to take.

J. Farley
J. Farley
2 years ago

We now have a Supreme Court that follows the Constitution, and not an Agenda, to destroy America, pray that all the Conservatives, on the court live long enough to see another Conservative Republican in the White House.
God Be with Us!

Charlotte Childers
Charlotte Childers
2 years ago

THANK GODThank

Carol
Carol
2 years ago

About time the SCOTUS started protecting our rights based on the Constitution and not leftist activism!

Gwyn
Gwyn
2 years ago

Exactly !

Debi
Debi
2 years ago

I believe this is true article and I think the same should be for medical and holistic medicine
If I pay for insurance I have to go to the medical doctors they say I can’t go to a holistic doctor
I don’t think that is fair as I pay for my insurance I should be able to use it for the medical treatment that is natural versus there science

Barb304
Barb304
2 years ago

I’ve never had a problem in having religious classes in public schools but, they should be elective not required. Same with the Pledge of Allegiance, any student who has been told by their parents not to say the pledge should be allowed to either sit down or leave the room.

Roberta L Hartley
Roberta L Hartley
2 years ago

I am hoping that we prisoners in the state of Washington, one of the states held hostage by the Blaine Amendment, will be closer to being able to participate. Our own children are grown and gone now, but we support local religious schools. My husband even has taught in one for over 25 years. Every one of the books his Literature classes read were bought by us. People talk about how much money caring teachers spend for their classrooms. Try being a teacher in a school with no federal funding. Truly it is a labor of love. But the true blessing comes when he runs into former students. When he asks them what the one thing he did for them, they invariably answer “How to think”. What greater gift is there for a teacher than to know they have educated the next generations in the ability to weigh all the options and make their own weighted decisions. He is now teaching the children of former students.

Bob
Bob
2 years ago

I still find it curious how the amendment (1st) that was supposed to limit the federal government from religious misconduct somehow (the 14th, no doubt) found its way to Johnnie’s classroom. I wonder what the founders (who apparently had no issue with basic Christian morality being taught) would think of the virtue destroying secularism that is being force fed our progeny.

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