Action Alert: Stop the Federal Funding of Religious Schools

Update: WE WON! On March 10, 2009 the Senate voted to reject Sen. Ensign's amendment. To see how your Senator voted, click here 

The U.S. Senate will soon be voting on an amendment  by Sen. John Ensign  (R-NV) to the 2009 Omnibus spending bill that would extend funding for a voucher program in the District of Columbia for an additional year. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is a voucher program in the District of Columbia that pays for parents to send their children to private religious schools.

Since Congress appropriates money directly to the D.C. government for this program, this means that your taxes are helping to fund the religious education of children in D.C.

Currently, language in the Omnibus bill requires that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program undergo a formal re-evaluation by Congress before any more tax dollars are spent on it. By attaching this amendment, supporters of this program hope to avoid the public scrutiny of a Congressional hearing on the voucher program.

It is critical that you write your Senators today and ask them to oppose Sen. Ensign's amendment that would delay a congressional review of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and extend its funding for an additional year.

TAKE ACTION NOW.

The Secular Coalition opposes the use of government funds for religious purposes, including vouchers for religious schools. We agree with the founders of the United States that no individual taxpayer should be required to pay for someone else's religion.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program enables federally funded proselytizing and religious discrimination. Recipients of the vouchers who attend religious schools are not even allowed to opt-out of religious activities at their school. In 2007, a report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that these vouchers do not give D.C. "students sufficient secular choices" in education.

By continuing this program, those of us who do not wish to subsidize someone else's church will continue to be forced to do so through our federal tax dollars.

TAKE ACTION NOW.

Below is the text the Secular Coalition provided:

I urge you to oppose S. Amdt. 615 by Sen. Ensign to the 2009 Omnibus package that would continue funding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. I believe, as does the District's Representative to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, that these vouchers do not give D.C. students sufficient secular choice in education.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program enables federally funded religious proselytizing and discrimination. In 2007, a report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that these vouchers do not give D.C. "students sufficient secular choices" in education.Vouchers also fail to deliver the promise of “school choice.” The participating schools are almost exclusively religious;  this means that those of us who do not wish to subsidize someone else's religion will continue to be forced to do so through our federal taxes.

For the second year in a row, a Department of Education study has found that there was no overall difference in standardized test scores between private school students in the federally funded D.C. voucher program and their peers attending the District public schools. Even if these programs were effective, I would oppose the use of government money to support religious training; however, it is especially egregious to vote to continue these vouchers when studies show them to be ineffective. 

As a nontheist, a taxpayer, and a constituent, I urge you to vote against this amendment that would continue funneling my tax dollars to religious institutions.

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