Focus Point - Religious War on VouchersCommentary by Pete du Pont
February 17, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. When a Cleveland federal judge ruled against that city's school voucher program -- a ruling now on appeal -- he cited the first amendment's ban on government establishment of religion. Most of the schools involved are church-related. But Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. doesn't know what he's talking about.
Anybody who reads History knows the authors of the Bill of Rights weren't motivated by the kind of separatist notions opponents of school choice commonly associate with the first amendment. Many states in the early republic funded religious schools, a practice that continued into the mid-19th century. Even after public schooling became common they required reading the bible, and reciting prayers. Now, school hostility to religion has become almost paranoid, from the valedictorian who was removed from the graduation program because she wouldn't delete religious references from her speech, to the 9th grader who got an *f* on a paper because she wrote about Christ thus violating the rules about religion in the classroom.
The judge, and the schools, could stand a History lesson.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, best and worst books.