Edd Doerr, president, Americans for Religious Liberty, Silver Spring, Md.
Texas Republicans are trying to push a sweeping tax-credit school voucher bill through the legislature. As part of the plot the lieutenant governor’s hand-picked advisory board issued a letter calling every public school “a Godless environment.” The May 1 Ft Worth Star-Telegram ran a long comment by a group of ministers (Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Christian, Presbyterian) slamming the letter, defending the public schools, and defending church-state separation and religious liberty. Below is my letter that was published in the Star-Telegram on May 7. – Edd
The pastors who signed the commentary opposing the diversion of public funds to private schools through vouchers or tax credits are in the very best tradition of religious leadership in America.
They see, as did Founders Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, that religious liberty for all requires that government refrain from forcing all citizens to support religious institutions, either directly or indirectly.
This church-state separation principle is enshrined in the Texas Constitution in Article I, Section 7 and Article VII, Section 5.
Religious freedom and our heritage of free public schools should not be tossed away by politicians in Austin or Washington.