Today we celebrate Religious Freedom Day. After nearly a year of the Trump-Pence administration’s unwavering attacks on the freedom of religion and belief, some might wonder what there is to celebrate. But today, we can be thankful for the fact that Americans United has been successful in fighting many of the administration’s reckless assaults on this core freedom.
There’s no denying that 2017 was a tough year for advocates of religious freedom and church-state separation. Yet despite the barrage of assaults from the Donald Trump-Mike Pence administration, Americans United saw important victories in and out of court.
As we look ahead to 2018, here’s a list of what are, in our opinion, the top 10 church-state stories from 2017:
President Donald Trump’s nominees to serve as assistants to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may have more experience in education than her, but they didn’t seem any more prepared than she did at their Senate confirmation hearing this week.
A recent report revealed that the number of students using private school vouchers from the controversial Washington, D.C., voucher program dropped by almost 500 over a four-year span.
The report, released in August by FutureEd, an education think tank, found that 1,154 students used vouchers through the program, which is funded with federal tax dollars, in the 2016-17 school year, as opposed to the 1,638 students who had used them four years earlier. One-third of students who were awarded vouchers ended up not using them.
President Donald J. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continue to push for private school vouchers – even though they still haven’t laid out a specific plan for what their federally funded program would look like.
Following up on his campaign promise ultimately to funnel $20 billion in taxpayer money to fund vouchers and similar programs, Trump introduced his proposed 2018 fiscal year budget on May 23 that would set aside $250 million to expand vouchers.
Public money should fund public schools, but President Donald J. Trump’s federal budget would send $250 million in public money to vouchers for private, often religious, schools. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos once again went to the Hill to defend the budget, this time, before a Senate committee.