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Public funds for Fred Phelps? Would you be ok with him or Muslim Madrassas being allowed to accept vouchers?

When it comes to school vouchers, Indiana State Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) seems to get it.

The Republican lawmaker doesn’t want to support an Indiana bill that would use public funds to send students to religious and other private schools. Steele is the first Republican legislator in the state to voice opposition to the proposal.

In a letter to every lawmaker sent out this week, Steele writes that he wouldn’t want his taxes to pay for students to attend a school run by the Westboro Baptist Church. Members of the notorious Topeka, Kan.-based church demonstrate at the funerals of soldiers, holding up signs with hateful anti-gay messages. The church’s protests are constitutionally protected free speech, according to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“We just saw this week the Westboro Baptist Church is recognized as a religious entity that is protected,” observed Steele. “How would you like your tax dollars going toward educating their children being privately schooled inside their church?  I don’t want my tax dollars used to raise a child who is going to want to kill my grandchildren because they are of a different religious belief.

“Once you start letting tax dollars go out to religious schools,” Steele continued, “you can’t make a determination which is the best religion or what is a proper religion.”

That’s exactly right.  Taxpayer funds should never go to support religious schools, period. Not only does it create a slippery slope, it also raises a wide array of serious constitutional concerns.

The religious school subsidy is a pet project of Gov. Mitch Daniels, who in December unveiled an education plan that included a large voucher component. Daniels said he wanted to make tuition aid available to “low and moderate” income residents statewide, offering up to $5,500 in stipends.

The plan would allow private schools to decide which students to accept and would have no cap on the number of pupils taking part. If the measure passes, it will be one of the most sweeping voucher programs in the country.

Daniel’s pitch hasn’t been well-received by Democrats in the Indiana House. They have staged a walkout over the voucher measure and other legislation impacting the middle class. They are camping out in Illinois until these bills are dropped. Republicans hold a 60-40 majority in the House, but a two-thirds quorum is needed to vote on legislation.

Steele’s letter is the latest twist in the Indiana drama. We hope he can get through to his fellow lawmakers and finally put an end to the misguided voucher plan.

As Americans United has said before: Vouchers are bad news. Voucher subsidies for religious schools undermine church-state separation, undercut civil rights, hurt the public schools, are opposed by voters and have not improved student performance.

Still, legislators in more than 30 states have introduced voucher bills this session. And the battle continues to brew in Congress, where House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman are pushing a measure to reauthorize a D.C. voucher scheme.

Now is the time for AU activists to come together to defeat these voucher measures across the country. Contact your state and federal lawmakers today and tell them you don’t want your tax dollars to pay for religious education.

Answer Question

Asked by Friday at 4:13 PM on Mar. 12, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 19 (7,317 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • Yes - I would - because the point is it's the parent's choice, and it's not endorsing a religion if ANY religion is allowed. I've explained this before - as soon as someone takes it upon themselves to declare anyone's religion as invalid, they are giving everyone else the same permission to to the same to them. If a Methodist is allowed to say WBC is not a real Christian and not worthy of consideration, they just handed all the Lutherans the right and power to declare all Methodists not real Christians and not worthy of consideration. Since I have no interest in letting a bunch of stick up their ass Abrahamics running Heathens out of the country with torches and pitchforks, I'll refrain from doing the same to the more colorful branches of their own faith, like WBC or the Christian Identity movement. The same goes for extremists of any faith.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 4:34 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • That's reasonable, NP, but let's be honest here. How many Christians would still support vouchers if madrassas were eligible as well?


    Comment by Friday (original poster) at 4:40 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • How many Christians would still support vouchers if madrassas were eligible as well?

    Depends on how many aren't hypocrites

    Answer by NotPanicking at 4:48 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • Depends on how many aren't hypocrites

    Fair enough, we'll have to see if any bother to answer the question. None of the far right ones in CE&HT group did.


    Comment by Friday (original poster) at 4:49 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • You're question brings up to very good points that deserve their own consideration.
    1) Should people have a choice on how and where their children are educated, and should they have the same access to public eduction money as public schools do? My answer is yes.
    2) Does funding a secular education with public money cross the line between seperation of church and state? My answer is yes.
    You can have one without the other and don't think it's fair that the politicians are combining the two.

    Answer by Lornamay at 5:14 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • We have this going on right now in my district- I oppose it simply because the cost is too high and we do not have the money to support the program. Parental choice sounds great-but the fact is the vast majority choose their neighborhood school (our district is 85%) so why when everyone is scream "sacrifice is needed" to save education funding would anyone support anything that threatens it-

    Answer by soyousay at 5:28 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • "is screaming" sorry about that ;)

    Answer by soyousay at 5:50 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • I would support it. I detest the federal school system.

    Answer by Carpy at 6:11 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • Even if groups with extremist ideologies were eligible?

    Alrighty then.


    Comment by Friday (original poster) at 6:29 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

  • I don't think the Feds should fund any schools. This is what is wrong with education today. If you want their money, you have to follow their rules and regulations. It would only turn private schools into more public schools. I don't care which religion they affiliate with.

    Answer by jesse123456 at 6:55 PM on Mar. 12, 2011

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