Americans United for Separation of Church and State President and CEO Rachel Laser issued the following statement, a call to end all private school vouchers, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision today in Carson v. Makin that wrongly forces states to fund religious education under the guise of non-discrimination:
“The ultra-conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court continues to redefine the constitutional promise of religious freedom for all as religious privilege for a select few.
“The court is forcing taxpayers to fund religious education. This nation was built on the promise of religious freedom, which has always prevented the state from using its taxing power to force citizens to fund religious worship or education. Here, the court has violated that founding principle by requiring Maine to tax citizens to fund religious schools. Far from honoring religious freedom, this decision tramples the religious freedom of everyone. Worse, the court has opened the door to government-enforced tithing, an invitation religious extremists will not ignore.
“The court’s ultra-conservative bloc argued that refusing to tax citizens to fund religion is ‘discrimination against religion.’ It’s nothing less than gaslighting to cloak this assault on our Constitution in the language of non-discrimination. If the conservative justices were concerned with discrimination, they would not have issued this opinion because it forces taxpayers to fund two religious schools that discriminate against LGBTQ families, one barring their admission and the other forcing them to undergo ‘counseling’ and renounce their sexual orientation or gender identity, or be expelled. One school’s stated educational objective is to ‘refute the teachings of the Islamic religion with the truth of God’s word’ – and now Muslim taxpayers will be forced to fund that school.
“The court appears concerned with discrimination only when conservative Christians make the claim, and often, as here, in ways that further discrimination. Where was the concern for discrimination in the draft opinion that seeks to abolish reproductive freedom, imposing that conservative Christianity on us all, regardless of our personal religion or lack thereof? Or when the court rubber-stamped a conservative Christian’s discrimination against a recently engaged, same-sex couple in Colorado? Or when the Trump administration banned Muslims from entering the country?
“This opinion hangs on Maine’s earlier decision to send public money to private schools. Such programs will force taxpayers to fund religious education and discrimination. It’s time to end all public funding for private schools, especially vouchers. Public funds should go to public schools.
“Now, more than ever before, Americans United is committed to defending true religious freedom and public education from the assault mounted by religious extremists.”
Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Associate Vice President of Communications