Friday, October 26, 2007

Church Can Not Open Charter School in New York

The State of New York does not permit a church to run a charter school. A clergyman want to do just that, but does not want to have to "hide" the church association by running it through a separate non-profit organization. He has started a lawsuit against the state to get permission to open his school. The story is here:

Harlem Clergyman Wants To Establish a New School

Laws such as New York's usually claim to be upholding the First Amendment. But the Amendment bars the Federal Government from establishing a religion. If you apply the same principle to the State Governments, there is still a difference between avoiding establishing a religion and actually prohibiting a religious group from operating with freedom.

One should remember that Thomas Jefferson, whose private letter is often referred to when someone is putting forth the idea of separation of church and state, was the president of the Washington, D.C. school system. During his tenure he specified that the primary reading materials used in the school system would be the Bible and the Watts Hymnal. It seems clear he did not mind Christian ideas being presented in school.

In the story linked above, note that the church does not want to teach about religion in this proposed charter school.

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