Religious Schools And Bias: America Must Not Vouch For Parochial Discrimination

Religious schools and institutions often base their decisions on religious and moral beliefs. That’s generally their prerogative, so long as they run 100 percent on funding from those who support those religious doctrines, not American taxpayers.

As if there aren’t already enough reasons why public funds should never support religious education – here are just a few more.

Reason No. 793: NBC’s Today Show recently interviewed a Florida teacher who said she was fired by a Christian school after school officials learned she became pregnant before her marriage.

Jarretta Hamilton said she was terminated in 2009 after administrators at the Southland Christian School in St. Cloud, Fla., questioned her about when she had conceived.

In a July 20, 2009 letter signed by school administrator Julie Ennis, the school explained the reason for her firing.

"Jarretta was asked not to return because of a moral issue that was disregarded, namely fornication, sex outside of marriage," the letter reads. "The employment application, which she filled out, clearly states that as a leader before our students we require all teachers to maintain and communicate the values and purpose of our school."

Reason No. 794: In May, a Roman Catholic school in Massachusetts withdrew its acceptance of an eight-year-old student with lesbian parents, claiming their relationship is “in discord” with the church’s teachings.

“I'm accustomed to discrimination, I suppose, at my age and my experience as a gay woman," the mother said. "But I didn't expect it against my child."

A similar situation occurred at a Catholic school in Colorado, too.

Reason No. 795: An Iowa Catholic school teacher was fired after the school discovered a Facebook survey in which she indicated that she did not believe in God.

Abby Nurre worked as an eighth-grade math teacher at St. Edmond Catholic School, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She responded to a Facebook members’ poll that she did not believe in God, miracles or heaven. Her answer then became public on her Facebook page, which was only accessible to designated Facebook friends.

Nurre also posted a comment at an online discussion forum, Atheist Nexus.

Once the school discovered this, the board of directors fired her for violating a policy that prohibits employees from advocating “principles contrary to the dogmatic and moral teaching of the church.”

Religious schools and institutions often base their decisions on religious and moral beliefs. That’s generally their prerogative, so long as they run 100 percent on funding from those who support those religious doctrines, not American taxpayers.

Yet, there is a huge movement underway pushing for so-called “school choice” programs. Right-wing high-roller Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children and the mega-bucks Heritage Foundation claim voucher and tax-credit programs are the only way to help children in inadequate public school systems.

But all these programs really do is funnel taxpayer money to religious and other private schools – which is voucher proponents’ real goal.

We can’t let them succeed. There are plenty of stories like these, and we must make sure that institutions that discriminate based on religious beliefs don’t receive government support.