Earlier this year, the Supreme Court voted 7-2 in the Trinity Lutheran case to allow state funds to be made available to churches as long as it was for an ostensibly secular reason. The problem with that decision, of course, is that giving taxpayer money to a church would free up money the church could then use for its ministry.
One key thing to remember from that case is that it was all about the First Amendment. The church said Missouri’s decision to deny them funding for a new playground violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment — essentially punishing them for being a church.
Now a Missouri legislator wants to take all that a step further. State Rep. Lindell Shumake is proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow taxpayer funding to support religious schools, challenging the longstanding Blaine Amendment that exists in 38 states prohibiting taxpayer funding to faith-based schools.
Shumake, a Republican, has to get the idea past the Missouri legislature first before it ever appears on a ballot, so he’s filed a House Joint Resolution to do just that.
The Supreme Court decision doesn’t extend to this situation, which is why the legislation is needed. It’s not about the First Amendment. It’s not about letting state funds go toward a playground. This is about letting state funds go toward the entire damn school including the parts directly involving indoctrination.
Shumake contends that state programs, like the playground resurfacing program denied to Trinity Lutheran, should be enjoyed by the entire citizenry of Missouri.
The amendment would not implement any new programs, nor change the cost of any current programs. To pass, the legislation must first clear the Legislature and be certified for ballot, then approved in the next Missouri general election.
“I just don’t think there should be this restriction in our state constitution,” he said.
This would be a disaster if it passes the legislature and gets approved by voters. Public schools struggle for funding as is. The last they need are religious schools siphoning money for the purpose of teaching kids evolution is a hoax and virgins can give birth.
It’s easy to push for this sort of constitutional change when you’re a Christian pastor who’s aware the lion’s share of the funding would eventually promote your personal beliefs. But for those of us who live in the reality-based community, this is nothing more than a cash redistribution that benefits Christianity and punishes general education.
Incidentally, Shumake also proposed a bill in 2011 requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to provide birth certificates before appearing on the ballot. So he’s not just a conservative, he’s a birther.
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Brian for the link)