Court Strikes Down New Hampshire’s Tax-Money-For-Religious-Schools Law

On Monday, New Hampshire was the scene of a state court verdict (PDF) that struck down a recent law allowing tax dollars to flow into religious schools:

The program provided a large tax credit to businesses that contributed to scholarship organizations that paid for tuition at private schools. Though the program was purportedly designed to expand educational opportunities, Justice John M. Lewis held that the program violated the state’s constitution because it had the effect of diverting public funds to religious schools.

“New Hampshire students, and their parents, certainly have the right to choose a religious education,” the Stafford County Superior Court judge wrote in the ruling. “However, the government is under no obligation to fund religious education. Indeed, the government is expressly forbidden from doing so by the very language of the New Hampshire Constitution.”

With that phrase, Lewis was referring to the Blaine Amendment that is enshrined in the Constitution of no fewer than 39 states, including his.

The amendment has a pretty fascinating genesis.

In the 1870s, Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, frequently expressed his commitment to keeping tax money out of religious education. In fulsome tones, Grant praised the separation of church and state, and attacked the idea of government support for “sectarian schools” run by religious organizations.

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Scouting Group Girlguiding UK Revises ‘Promise’ So That Non-Religious Girls Can Join

Two years ago, a seven-year-old was told that she had to pledge an oath to god if she wanted to remain in Girlguiding UK (their version of the Girl Scouts). The pledge reads: ‘I promise that I will do my best, to love my God, to serve the Queen and my country, to help other [Read More…]

Did You Know That Christians Are Getting Bullied (and Beaten Up) by Gays?!

Samantha Bee, I love you:

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Catholic Blogger: Selling Gay People Flowers for a Wedding is Like Selling Bank Robbers a Bag for the Money

Rebecca Hamilton, a fellow Patheos blogger, recently posted about a small business owner in Washington (state) who is being sued for refusing to provide flowers for a wedding.

As you might expect, the only reason she denied the couple in question flowers for their wedding is because they happened to be gay. Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, claimed that she had no problem selling flowers to LGBT people… as long as it’s not for a gay wedding because that would involve “actively participating in something that just about all traditional Christians consider sinful.” As a result, she’s countersuing the state saying that her constitutional rights were violated.

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Help Us Out and Tell Us What You Do!

Every now and then, the writers on this site will be working on a post about, say, Creationism being taught in a high school biology class… and we realize it would be great if we could talk to an atheist who teaches high school biology! Maybe we want to quote you in the post. Or (more likely) we just need to ask you a question about high school science curriculums in general.

It’s not just education — there are many times when we have questions about business or law or medicine or music, but we don’t know anyone in those fields we can talk to.

So we’re trying to compile an online Rolodex of sorts and that’s where we could use your help. If you work in a particular profession (like medicine or law) or have an expertise in some area (like video games), we’d love to be able to get in touch with you in the event that we’re working on a story about that subject.

We created a form for you to fill out. It should only take you a minute to complete, and it’ll allow us to compile a database of contacts that we can use when we need to. (Obviously, we’re not going to post the information you give us anywhere, and we’re not going to contact you unless we really need your input about something.)

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