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Vouchers and School Choice - No Need to Separate Church and State Essay

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School Choice: No Need to Separate Church and State

 

 Imagine that the fire department decided not to put out fires at synagogues and churches.  Or imagine that the police decided not to answer calls from synagogues and churches.  "So sorry," they say, "there's a wall of separation around your church, and we can't cross it to help you.  Hire your own fire protection and your own security guards." This would rightly be seen as outrageous discrimination.  Sure, the government shouldn't specially favor religious institutions, but the government shouldn't discriminate against them, either.  The government should separate itself from religion by not caring whether a person or institution is religious -- by treating everyone equally regardless of their religious affiliation.

 

              The same is true of education, which is for many people the most valuable benefit that the state provides.  The government shouldn't give more benefits to religious school students than it gives to students at secular schools, whether government-run or private.  But why must it give anything less?

 

              The First Amendment doesn't require such discrimination against religion; it simply bars laws "respecting an establishment of religion."  Equal treatment of everyone, without regard to religion, is not an establishment of religion.  This is why the GI Bill, which let soldiers choose either a religious education or a secular one, was perfectly constitutional.  It's why the government may give scholarships or student loans to al...


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... voters can decide to help all children, without discriminating against those whose parents choose a religious education.

 

              My parents sent me to secular schools.  If I have children, I'll probably send them to secular schools, too.  But I know others have a different preference.  They pay their taxes just like I do.  The government may provide services for these people's kids on the same terms as it provides services for my kids.

 

              That's the true meaning of the Constitution, whether we're talking about police services, the fire department, the GI Bill, or elementary schools.  Equality for all.  Special benefits for none.  Discrimination against none. 


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