Congress Reauthorizes Program That Provides Federal Funds For Schools That Discriminate On The Basis Of Religion
The First Amendment to the Constitution is very clear on prohibiting Congress from getting involved in religion. It proclaims, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
In spite of this prohibition, members of Congress have a fondness for efforts that establish federal government programs to support religious institutions, and support religious discrimination against American citizens. Why? Certain political constituencies like to see their own religious beliefs exalted over others. It feeds their sense of pride.
So it is that yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 10, a bill that provides federal funds to schools that discriminate against students on the basis of religion. Also known as the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization Act, the legislation provides large payments to religious schools to enable students to attend, even when those schools have failed to demonstrate that they provide an education of comparable quality to what is already available in public schools. Furthermore, H.R. 10 allows schools to take federal money even while they discriminate against students on the basis of religion.
These schools can compel students to take part in religious worship, or punish students if they fail to agree to tenets of faith. So, an Islamic private school could take federal money and force students to follow aspects of sharia law while on campus, even if the students weren’t Muslim. Catholic schools could punish students for not performing Catholic rituals – and use federal funds to do it.
Republicans claim to object to abuse of Big Government power. Nonetheless, all but 8 of them voted in favor of this bill to allow religious groups to use financial power granted to them by the federal government to run roughshod over students’ First Amendment rights.