Private Christian Schools That Receive Taxpayer Dollars Are (Legally) Expelling Gay Students

Usually, when church/state advocates argue against school vouchers, they’re fighting against tax dollars being used to pay for religious schools that may preach Creationism or revisionist history.

Alex Morris shows us in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that there’s another concern: LGBT students can be legally expelled from schools that are receiving this government cash:

As religious institutions, these schools have the legal right to uphold and enforce any faith-based belief system they please. And parents who enroll their children — if not always the children being enrolled — understand the repercussions of such policies. However, by exploiting recent legislation, Christian schools in Georgia that openly discriminate against gay students have been receiving millions of dollars in diverted public funds as a result of a 2008 law meant to provide funding to help [low­-income] children transfer to private schools. Tristan, Jason and Emily, along with about 500 other students, attend a school that participates in this program.

It’s not just Georgia — 11 other states now have laws that offer tax credits to those who give scholarships for private schools.

Keep in mind none of the students in question necessarily violated some fictional moral code. They didn’t lose their virginity. They didn’t advocate for gay marriage at school. Their only crime was “being gay.”

Even a lot of evangelical churches (and the Catholic Church) will argue that it’s perfectly fine to be gay as long as you don’t act on it. They get that it’s not a choice.

Not these schools. They think you chose to be gay and they intend to punish students for it:

Tristan faced a similar dilemma when a group of students threatened to go to the principal and report someone else for being gay. Looming large is the fact that someone actually was expelled some years back, under a school provision that is still on the books. “They found out she was a lesbian, and they made her go in front of the entire school and tell them,” says Tristan. “And then they kicked her out the next day.”

Love the sinner, my ass.

It’s bad enough that these kids have to go to schools that miseducate them in the name of Jesus. But for the schools to threaten them with expulsion or public humiliation over something they didn’t choose that many of them are only now coming to terms with? It’s just plain cruel.

There’s just no reason any decent parent should subject their kids to this sort of punishment. And there sure as hell is no reason for the state and federal government to allow tax money to go to these private schools.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • God’s Starship

    Laws protecting “faith based belief systems” basically mean some people get the special privilege to fink out out on their end of what civilized people would consider a reasonable social contract by simply invoking mythological beings.

    • Glasofruix

      Yep, that’s why the US looks like a third world country from here (and you guys barely avoided that a few hours ago i believe)

      • Timothy McLean

        Depending on your definition of “Third World Country,” it might well look like one from inside.

  • Stev84

    The sad thing is that the article never questions this absurd, idiotic insistence to exempt so-called “religious” schools from any and all regulations and laws. It just takes that as a given.

    Schools are not churches! There is no reason to allow them do whatever they want.

    • C Peterson

      Neither is there any reason to allow churches to do whatever they want!

      • Timothy McLean

        Technically, they can’t. They still need to abide by all laws in their religious ceremonies.
        I’m sure that neo-Mayinatec churches are depressed by their inability to perform human sacrifice, but Christian churches usually aren’t affected by this…

        • C Peterson

          True, you don’t have many Christian churches performing human sacrifice. That is left to Christian parents, acting under their personal interpretations of Christianity.

  • Jeffrey Hitchin

    As a gay man, this kind of thing makes me so mad. Yes, let’s tell more gay youth that they’re abominations and give them federal funds to do so.

  • cryofly

    So the tax dollar is only meant for poor, non-gay, christian kids. And so our tax money is funding discrimination. Awesome!

    • Timothy McLean

      Well, 1/3 of the criteria being the intended one isn’t so bad.

      Right?

  • invivoMark

    What, Hemant, now you want to discriminate against Christians by refusing to pay them to discriminate against the young and vulnerable? It’s freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion! Now give us more money so we can make more innocent children feel like shit.

    (I can’t believe that this kind of thing is allowed in what is ostensibly a “civilized” and “modern” society.)

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      STALIN!!!

      *is in Bitter Lizard withdrawal*

      • Tainda

        Me too :(

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Where is that scaly bastard, anyway?

    • Timothy McLean

      In the end, America is still so Christian that most people don’t care that much, and so stupid that they would count this as religious freedom.

      Some days, I wish I could move to Europe.

      • zuppo

        Canada here I come

        • lemonaidssss

          Certain parts of Canada aren’t much better. i.e. northern Alberta.

        • SILENTSAM69

          Funny thing is Canada is actually an officially Christian nation. Though you wouldn’t know it to come here.

    • Jerry Wilson

      Can’t tell if your serious or being sarcastic.

      • baal

        invivoMark is an atheist. I’d go with sarcastic.

        • Jerry Wilson

          I kind figured he was, but sarcasm doesn’t translate very well into text.

          • JJJ

            It usually does, but this just acclamates how fucked up the whole situation and discussion really is…

          • WolfgangDS

            It does if you write it right. Even without the additional parenthetical note at the end, I’d say he did it right.

      • invivoMark

        It says a lot about some Christians that you really couldn’t tell. A lot of very, very sad things.

    • Robert Ivey

      Called Seperation of Church and State. Religious institutions should never get a dime from the Government for any reason.

      • robert971222

        You people have no clue what the first amendment even means,you just scream separation of church and state and think that any resemblance of religion is forbidden.Lets look close at what it says..

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

        Its directed specifically at congress and refers only too making laws that push a religion onto people.The other half that you people conveniently ignore is prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

        By them getting money, in no means, is a respecting a establishment of a religion.There is nothing being forced on you.

        So quit, with your zealous hatred of anything religious.

        • Captain Obvious

          Since when is bullying by adults against children religion, and why the hell should taxpayers be funding it?

        • Andy_Schueler

          By them getting money, in no means, is a respecting a establishment of a religion.There is nothing being forced on you.

          Interesting. So if a school or university that receives taxpayer money, would start throwing out students as soon as they find out that they might be christians – you would be totally cool with that?

        • ShunkW

          Spending my tax dollars to support an idiotic religion is being forced on me of course. I suppose if a school practiced sharia law using your tax dollars to support it then you would be fine with that as well.

    • Tobias2772

      A society can’t truly be civilized or modern when you let bronze age books and minds influence the decisions that society makes.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I read the article previously and I really want to slap Ehrhart. Also, if I was that student I would have sued the high school for denying me the diploma that I had earned. At least he was able to get into college.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    “As religious institutions, these schools have the legal right to uphold and enforce any faith-based belief system they please.”

    Federal law says otherwise. If it’s getting government funds, state or federal, it is legally obligated to maintain neutrality.

    Solution: Enforcement of existing law, or removal of public funding.

    • Rob U

      From my understanding of how it was explained in the article, it appears they get around the whole “Public Money” problem by making the schools a tax deductible charity you donate to – only they seem to be a bit different because the government will return your tax savings for that “donation” to the school instead of to you at tax time.

      I guess the thinking goes that since its just a reallocation of your earned Tax Return its not really “public money”. Since most of the schools are religious in nature its probably why it was structured that way, the legislators found a legal way to legislate their religious morality – basically giving a big old fuck you to the First Amendment – so their constituents can have their “religious freedom” to be bigots at the expense of another person’s actual freedom without being able to gain any legal recourse.

      At least that’s what I got from the article.

  • nogy

    To the author: you mad, bro? If they don’t want to teach the gays, that’s their choice.

    • AbeSimpson742

      Yes, as private institutions they are free to be just as irrationally bigoted as they choose. However, the minute they begin receiving public funds, they no longer have that right. Very simple, actually.

    • Tainda

      “the gays” My favorite term in the whole wide world!

      /sarcasm

      Listen…bro. If you’re taking government money, you don’t have the option of being discriminatory. Stop taking MY money and you can be the biggest douchecanoe you want.

      • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

        He spelled it wrong. The correct spelling is “teh GAYS!!!1!”

        • baal

          eleventy

      • Akula765

        But they aren’t taking government money.

        A tax credit is not the same thing as receiving government funds- something the author deliberately misrepresented.

        • Jordan Sugarman

          Except those tax credits are coming out of funds that would have otherwise gone to public schools.

    • Oswald Carnes

      And if I don’t want to employ whiny bigot trash, that’s my choice too.

    • Matt D

      I’m hoping you learn empathy one day, because a casual claim that churches get a free pass to discriminate is ridiculously coldhearted, although I’m not surpised your more afraid of the church than the gays.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Your raging, whining bigotry and pathetic ignorance of both morality and the law are correctable.

    • Ken Scaletta

      Not when they take my money for it.

    • Bdole

      That phrase is meant to be used ON people like those administering these religious schools. It’s like a guy in his 70′s using the word “rad” or “dude.” That just doesn’t fit.

  • shawn_von_socialist

    you think this is bad religious institutions get more federal dollars for poverty programs than people in poverty get -in direct aid

    charity and religion is a scam- they can legally discriminate where government cant

    government needs to end tax excemption for religious and charity groups

    give out of your own good heart and not use tax payer dollars to legally discriminate

  • Phil B.

    Really, if you want your children to be treated with tollerance and kindness, the last place you should send them is a “Christian” school.

  • Elizabeth Chandler

    Any school is allowed to preach whatever doctrine they wish, but I’ll be dammned if tax money should be used to fund it.Don’t know what their constitution says but LA state constitution states NO public tax money should be used to fund private education, tho our governor wishes it were not so.This is not education, it’s passing down beliefs and traditions of discrimination and hate because you’re different. If I’m gonna hate you, you can bet I’ve got a damn good reason and this ain’t it.

  • Will

    Ah, typical Christians

  • Lion_IRC

    Private citizens (partly) funding private schools saves the tax payers money.

    It is secular economic rationalism plain and simple.

    …and lets be frank, money is more important to politicians than principles.

    • Lion_IRC

      Rich, liberal, quasi-religious parents who want to send
      their.. [cough] …‘gay children’ to private Biblical Christianity
      religious schools, are probably doing so because these schools
      often have stricter discipline and (therefore) better academic results.

  • ShunkW

    Welfare queens. Everyone of them.


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