Peter Greene: Why Churches Should Hate School Vouchers

In Texas, the most effective group fighting vouchers is Pastors for Texas Children. They understand that the state must support all public schools equitably. They also understand that separation of church and state protects religious liberty. They don’t think that churches should become intertwined with politicians.

Peter Greene agrees with Pastors for Texas Children. Churches, he says, should hate vouchers.

“It seems clear that the wall between church and state, particularly when it comes to educational voucher programs, is collapsing like a stack of cheerios in a stiff wind. This is not good for a variety of reasons, but those reasons do not all belong to supporters of public education. Even before I was a cranky blogger, I was telling folks that religious institutions should be right out there resisting vouchers, and that if school vouchers with no regard for the church and state wall ever became law, churches would rue the day just as much as anyone, if not more.

“So what’s my point? Why should churches want to get that stack of cheerios back up and fortified?

“It’s important to remember that the separation of church and state is not just for the state’s benefit– it protects churches as well. Once Betsy DeVos and Mike Pence get their way (I’m not convinced that Trump either knows or understands any of the issues here), here’s how things are going to go south.

“First, tax dollars for education will still be directed by the politicians in capitals. That means that churches will have to become experienced in the business of political pandering. And this is not my prediction for the future– it is happening right now.Caitlin Emma at Politico is reporting today on the Catholic Church’s are meeting with GOP lawmakers and administration officials to see if the Trump-DeVos voucher plan can be implemented in such a way as the be financially beneficial for parochial schools.

“Let that sink in. Church officials are going to try to cut a deal, with politicians, for money. In a no-walls voucher world, churches and other religious groups financially dependent on the good will of politicians will have to make sure they stay on the good side of politicians. Church leaders will have to consider “This guy is odious and spits in the face of everything we believe, but we need him to keep the money flowing to us.” Did I mention that Catholic Church officials are meeting with Trump administration officials? Once several different religions and denominations get involved, just how much religious lobbying will be required to argue how the education dollar pie is sliced up?…

“Where government money goes, politics follow, and when you mix religion and politics, you get politics.* Will a church that wants those public dollars mute its religious character to avoid problems? A study of Catholic schools in voucherfied Milwaukee suggests the answer is yes. Will taxpayers rise up when they think their dollars are being spent on a religious group they object to? That looks like a yes, too.

“That’s before we even start to talk about regulations and laws and rules that may or may not contradict religious beliefs.

“Vouchers are a bad policy idea for so many reasons, but many of those reasons have to do with protecting the very religious institutions that, in some cases, hope to profit from them. And reconsidering the church tax exemption is already being brought up– what does a church do when a politician says, “I can keep that tax thing off your back as long as your political activity is political activity I like.”

“Religious institutions and church-related schools should beware. Vouchers are a trap, and bad news for everyone involved.”

from novemoore


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