The Religious Right is Using Your Money to Discriminate in Schools

Why does the Religious Right think it is entitled to use taxpayer money to discriminate against LGBT people, and when are we going to put an end to the special treatment that enables these acts?

It has been revealed that at least 115 private religious schools in Georgia that are receiving public money through a special state scholarship program are operating policies where they expel or fire LGBT students or teachers. The 2008 tax credit program has meant that over the last four years, the state has funneled more than $170 million in taxpayer funds into scholarships for students attending private schools, and yet those schools are allowed to go on discriminating against kids per the institutions’ so-called religious morality.

A report by Southern Education fund says that while 115 schools have such explicit anti-gay policies, the depth and breadth of the problem is much greater because a wider number of recipient schools would also appear to have softer but still anti-gay policies and, perhaps even more disturbing, curricula that specifically condemns homosexuality and gay relationships.

For instance, Augusta Christian School policy declares “Each student of the school shall be of the highest moral character and be obedient to all Biblical principles, including, but not limited to, prohibitions against fornication, drug use, alcohol use, pornography and homosexuality– The school reserves the right to dismiss any student with or without cause.”

One pauses to wonder what stance the school would take on stoning a woman to death, but we digress.

The report adduces a variety of other examples, including policies at the Cumberland Christian Academy and Cherokee Christian Schools, the latter of which it should be noted carries a provision in its guidebook that says if you merely wonder out loud whether you’re gay — or more to the point, if you seek help over conflicted feelings about your sexuality — you can promptly be ejected.

Furthermore, there is evidence that the accreditation agencies themselves are being given a free license to discriminate. The Georgia Association of Christian Schools, an accrediting agency given the rubber stamp by the state of Georgia to approve schools so they can participate in the tax credit program, does itself label homosexuality a “sinful perversion of God’s gift of sex.”

The report argues that through this accreditation program, the state administration is giving religious conservative schools a tax-payer funded license to “punish, denounce, and even demonize students in the name of religion solely because they are gay, state that they are homosexual, happen to have same-sex parents or guardians, or express support or tolerance for gay students at school, away from school, or at home.”

Were a public school to do this, even in Georgia where gay rights protections do not exist, it would immediately be vulnerable to a legal challenge. But this isn’t going to stop any time soon. The New York Times reports that State Representative Earl Ehrhart (R) is zealously pushing in this legislative session to increase the amount of state money allocated each year for such scholarships.

This isn’t an isolated example of the Religious Right believing it can do what it likes with taxpayer funds.

In Colorado, for instance, where lawmakers are pushing a civil unions bill, Catholic adoption agencies that receive taxpayer funds have already threatened to leave the state, saying they will not serve gay couples in civil unions because it is against their religious teaching.

They have argued that civil unions are not a marriage — yes, we are aware — and that they simply will not recognize them. Should the bill pass and they not be given special exemptions, a spokesperson has made it known they will instead close their doors. Punishing children for groundless ideological differences is beyond petty, but it is not new.

Catholic Charities, of course, made the exact same threat in Illinois in previous years but lost a legal challenge wherein it argued it should be given a special exemption from the law.

We can also turn to the swathes of states where, in the lead up to the November ballot, churches that get massive tax breaks were openly and forcefully politicking against marriage equality and, in fact, President Obama, and yet have so far dodged any kind of consequence.

As to why the Religious Right continues to use taxpayer funds to discriminate, the pithy answer is because America continues to allow it to do so out of a false sense of deference and a fear of the shrill and hollow charge of religious discrimination — there is no right to use taxpayer funds to discriminate in this manner and it is paramount that at every level we fight this unethical privilege the Religious Right has been allowed to accumulate.


Related Reading:

Religious Tax Breaks Cost America $71 Billion a Year

SCOTUS Embraces Public Financing of Religious Schools

Is It Time To Start Taxing Churches?

Image credit: Thinkstock.


Sergey Larin
Sergey Larin4 years ago

I suppose the religious organizations should pay taxes then. I agree with the comment of the user Winn A. (dated by 11:49AM PST on Feb 8, 2013). To expell such students is really unfair. Those who expell LGBT are sick people. They hate without reasons. Why don`t they bite dogs who sh**t at their lawns?

Christopher Fowler

This is against the law and those who are allowing it to happen should be removed from their positions and tried for crimes against the Constitution.

The religious institutions receiving the money should be either closed down or ordered to return it with appropriate interest.

Nick R.
Nick R4 years ago

Religious schools, charter schools, independent schools. They are all nothing but money machines for the rich and powerful. Witness the charter school started by Dionne Sandersin Dallas. Even before they were fully open and running, they were nailed for improper recruiting of athletes. Now let me ask, was the intention of the school to teach children or rack up trophies so the recruiting of the prime athletes would be easier. It is always all about the money, not the message, not the religion and certainly not about the kids.

Ram Reddy
Ram Reddy4 years ago


Stefano S.
Stefano Stronati4 years ago

Greg X.: Jesus has nothing to share with you, and all the other Christians. Christianity is death, destruction, ravage. Christianity is lapidation (Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and others), burning alive on the stake, wringing confession by torture; it is violence, persecution, hate to women; in one word, it is intolerance against any, I mean any thing that does not match the so-called "Word of the Lord". The more: Christianity is hypocrisy up to the worst. Everyone knew what was and is happening into the churches, and when the lid was taken off the pot, pedophilic priests were removed just to avoid trials, that is legal fees, and scandals - and who cares of children.
I am repeating: Jesus has nothing to share with Christians. Jesus was close to children, lepers, women - He defended a whore from being lynched: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7), He spoke about religion with a Samaritan woman - at the well, He allowed a sick woman (of hemorroid) to touch Him, and He heals her because of her faith, He even! admired a poor widow who donated some copper coins to the Temple in Jerusalem. How may you define Christians, if Jesus was and is Love, first of all? "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Mattew, 5:17): well, it seems you did not take any care of His word.

Greg X.
Greg X.4 years ago

I used to be gay, but over SEVEN years ago Jesus set me FREE! I am now free from the sin of homosexuality. Marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman according to the King James Bible (Genesis 2:24) so I am now married and my wife is pregnant by me. What's really cool is that now my life is not focused on "ME" I actually think about other's. More to the point, it's not about "ME" at all it's ALL about JESUS CHRIST! Jesus is Lord!!

Gabriella Bertelmann
G Bertelmann4 years ago

Is this surprising?

Ro H.
Ro H4 years ago


joseph rogers
Joseph rogers4 years ago

LGBT students are not made to go there, no one is making them do it, and tax payers money is used in all manners across this country, quit using christian degrading because of each persons on moral issue, use your own, you speak out of both sides of your mouth, you say you wont freedom but they can not, you say it is discrimination, I believe it is the opposite, If you would put your efforts into action maybe you would not have to count on some one else to do it

Robert Frank
Robert F4 years ago

Why does our govt continue to support and favor religions ? I thought it was supposed to be against out constitution? And if it isn't is certainly should be