Americans United Opposes Religious Right Effort To Censor Sex Education In Public Schools

Congress Should Not Fund Religious Viewpoint, Says AU's Lynn

Senate defeat of a school voucher proposal is a victory for religious freedom and public education, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

By a 58-41 vote, the Senate yesterday rejected an effort to add a voucher plan to President George W. Bush's education bill. Americans United for Separation of Church and State hailed the vote as a victory for public schools, taxpayers and the Constitution.

"The Senate finally seems to be getting the message that the American people do not want voucher aid to religious and other private schools," said Lynn. "Americans want to improve our public school system, not divert taxpayer funds to religious schooling. We hope this resounding defeat will spell the end of this truly bad idea for years to come."

The voucher amendment, sponsored by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), would have allocated $50 million for voucher "experiments" in 10 cities and three states. After its defeat, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) withdrew an amendment he had planned to offer that would have created a voucher program in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post reported that McCain withdrew the amendment at the request of pro-voucher groups. Observers say the groups were probably aware that they were going to lose another vote and are considering other strategies to advance their agenda.

"Vouchers are unconstitutional because they divert taxpayer dollars to religion," observed Lynn. "It's time for the Senate to focus on meaningful reform for America's public school system."

The Senate vote comes less than a month after the House of Representatives also rejected vouchers. On May 23, in two separate votes, House members overwhelmingly rejected voucher amendments offered by House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas). The first amendment, which would have created a massive national voucher program for so-called "failing schools," lost by a 273 to 155 vote. The second, which sought to create five pilot voucher projects, was defeated, 241 to186.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.