SCOTUS returns the government to business by funding religious education

(RNS) – On Tuesday (June 21st), the US Supreme Court ruled on what may have seemed like a unique local issue: When Maine provides vouchers to students in small rural towns without public high schools to attend private schools, can it exclude religious schools?

Carson v. Makin’s ruling could actually portend a return to the catastrophic combination of forced Christianity and public dollars.

Decision 6-3 found that states that offered money to private schools (in places such as Maine that were too far away to maintain public schools) would now have to allow religious schools to participate in these programs. Earlier, as Judge Stephen Brier wrote in his disagreement with Carson, the court ruled that the states could fund a student to attend a religious school, but the key word was “maybe.”

Breyer continues to ask rhetorically, “What happens after ‘can’ becomes ‘must’?”

CONNECTED: The Supreme Court says “yes” to state funds in religious schools in the Maine case, but the consequences may go beyond

Well, only in Maine does this mean that taxpayers of all religions and belief systems will be forced to fund a Christian school whose “educational goals” include “making every unsaved student trust in Christ as their personal savior and then follow Christ as Lord of his / her life ”.

Hindu, Jewish, and atheist Mainers will pay for education that provides “biblical integrated education,” where the Bible is used in every subject taught, including math and science. Mainers will also fund schools that actively discriminate against state citizens, as some religious schools have policies that refuse to enroll LGTBQ + students.

During an oral argument, Judge Elena Kagan correctly described Maine’s program as “small” and “combined,” but with a majority of Chief Justice John Roberts, the court opened the door to public funding of sectarians’ religious education in any environment.

Americans should not be forced to pay for hatred. Carson’s decision allows state taxpayers to be forced to pay for schooling, which explicitly discriminates against LGBTQ people, both in hiring teachers and admitting students. The Supreme Court has once again centered Protestant Christianity as normative and acceptable, even when it divides and belittles some Americans.

I say “again” because Christianity is deeply entangled in the legal and social infrastructure of the United States. For 150 years, from 1819 to 1969, “Indian boarding schools” and other federal-funded Christian missionary work aimed to “save man and kill the Indian.”

A makeshift memorial to the dozens of Indigenous children who died more than a century ago while attending a boarding school that was once nearby was displayed under a tree in a public park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on July 1, 2021. US Interior The department published a report on May 11, 2022, on the federal government’s past oversight of Native American boarding schools. (AP Photo / Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

As recently documented in the Interior Ministry’s comprehensive report, “Indian reservations” were divided among the major religious denominations “- Christian denominations, that is, those who, with federal dollars and the strength of the US military behind them, used violence to seize Indian, Alaskan and Hawaiian children from their families and indoctrinate them into the Christian religion and “civilized” culture.

The children were renamed “Christian names”, their hair was cut and placed in schools, which forced them to convert to Christianity and forbade them to speak Indian languages ​​or participate in the historical religious and cultural practices of their families. A Homeland Security investigation has uncovered 53 graves of boarding schools where hundreds, if not thousands, of Indian children are buried – very secretly and long after being abused by federal government-funded missionaries.

The report, initiated by Home Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Indian to serve in the post, forced the United States to recognize a cultural genocide aided and abetted by a religious government paid with federal taxes.

As I have shown in my research, Christian privilege interacts with other privileges and cultural norms, such as racism and heterosexual privileges, to create cross-models of benefit and harm. In Indian schools, Christianity was used to kill the Indian child. She is now ready to defeat the gay, transgender and intersex children of the new generations.

There is nothing wrong with teaching religion in public and publicly funded schools. Judge Thomas Clark, who wrote 60 years ago in Abington v. Schempp, was right: Forced religious practice is not part of the public school, but “education is not complete without the study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its connection to the development of civilization. “

CONNECTED: Catholic, Protestant groups support American Indian boarding school policy committee

The Supreme Court’s new ruling, by contrast, is a giant step in the wrong direction. In form and content, it is an endorsement of sectarian education that elevates religion with social power, Christianity, above all others.

A few weeks apart, the Indian Boarding House report and the Supreme Court’s new ruling are yet another vivid illustration of the true moral choice the United States faces on so many issues today: Learn from history or repeat it.

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