Arkansas Republicans Attempt To Publicly Fund Religious Preschools

Author: February 18, 2013 1:56 pm

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Arkansas Republicans have a new idea for making the funding of religious institutions by the government constitutional. According to their latest strategy, all you have to do is say it doesn’t violate the Constitution, and it magically doesn’t. A bill being introduced to the state legislature would allow “faith-based” early childhood programs to be funded by the Arkansas Better Chance pre-school program if the parents of a child want.

Sounds harmless enough, right? They aren’t forcing the Bible or creationism into a science class. They aren’t making anyone go to the religious pre-schools, after all; they’re just making the public pay for them. And, as the Arkansas Times reports, there may be a bit of corruption at work here:

His [Rep. Randy Alexander, main sponsor of the bill] HB 1352, co-sponsored by a gang of Republicans, would amend existing law on the state-funded Arkansas Better Chance pre-school program, which has provided solid family income to Harris’ Growing God’s Kingdom daycare in West Fork and pre-schools operated in Mountain Home by Sen. Johnny Key’s family. The prevalence of religious practices in those state-funded institution prompted a complaint, a review by DHS and a re-emphasis of the constitutional guidance that state money can’t be used to establish religion (fundamentalist Christian in these cases).

Emphasis theirs.


Republicans in Arkansas don’t seem to understand that public money can’t fund religious institutions, no matter what the parents of the children say. The Constitution doesn’t change every time a different person reads it, after all. The ACLU and AU have already stated their plans to fight the bill, in court if necessary, and it is somewhat unlikely that it will ever actually become a law.

Pointless and unconstitutional bills like this are more than a waste of time. In the end, if the bill goes to court, lawyers will be hired to fight for it. Those lawyers will be paid for by the sponsors of the bills, using public money to do so. Millions of tax dollars per year go to fighting Republicans when they try to introduce religion into schools, and it’s lasted long enough. This is waste, pure and simple. The affiliated legislators can’t honestly believe that a bill like this would go anywhere, so they are seemingly creating this waste on purpose.


Political Writer, Justin Acuff Please join me on Facebook, or visit my home site.You can also follow me on Twitter.

 

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3 Comments

  • Richard Hickey remarked on facebook, “So you believe that [the] money that the congregation “gives” to the churches, money that has already been taxed, should be taxed again by the government? OK. Then tell me where is your outrage about General Electric, and how about Facebook? How much did they pay in taxes? And you have the nerve to call religeous people ignorant!”

    This is an old argument that is baseless. We “give” money that we paid taxes on to all sorts of profit based organizations (theaters, sports events) for which we receive no tangible product. Yet, they are rightfully taxed on their profits, as are their executives and employees. Churches should be no exception. Tax the income of the ministers and other paid “employees”. Tax the church on money retained after expenses are paid (defined everywhere as profit). If these billionaire churches actually did charity work that helps people rather than simply enriching themselves, there might be a basis for not taxing them.

    I don’t know what he means by his references to GE and facebook, but if they are not paying their fair share of taxes, the government should (and will) go after them. If he is talking about tax loop-holes, I think the majority of us think they should be eliminated. And, yes. Many Christians are ignorant – of basic science and history, not to mention the Constitution.

  • And Republicans complain about legislation from Dems that create opportunities for lawyers.

  • Force these fundamentalist Christians make a choice, public funding for private religious schools by fully taxing churches, or abide by the intent of the 1st amendment. Guess what, these churches making millions from their gullible congregations would have a holy cow!

    This is yet another example of Republican evangelicals attempting to get their foot in the door on the way to turning the U.S. into a fundamentalist theocracy. Having been raised (55+ years ago) in this type of church, I know what they want – and it is not religious freedom. When American groups like the Southern Baptist and Pentecostals think God speaks to them exclusively, it takes no imagination to know what is their ultimately goal. I love the state of Arkansas (I consider it my real home) and most of the people there, even though a majority of them are enslaved by evangelicalism.

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