Today, the U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing deliberations in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Translation: one of the year’s first major religious liberty cases – with serious implications for the future of our public schools – starts today.
In 1876, Maine Congressman James G. Blaine proposed a federal constitutional amendment that would forcefully secularize a good portion of what existed as the national education system at that time. The amendment would have prevented any federal dollars, direct or indirect, from being spent at educational institutions that were controlled or operated by any “sectarian” entity – i.e. any Church. Since the public schools were effectively controlled by the many different local Protestant communities, it was aimed primarily at preventing Catholic immigrants from using public school money.
Of course, the Amendment did not pass at the federal level, but what was birthed later by many states, including Washington, was a version of that Amendment that would effectively discriminate against all Churches.
Problems with Blaine Amendments
State-level Blaine Amendments became problematic in the 1960’s and ‘70’s when anti-Christian judges started kicking out Christians of any denomination and all mention of God or Christian values. Today, the end result is discrimination against faith-based families, and endorsing a radical secular learning environment, over faith-based schools that oftentimes achieve significantly higher educational results.
Governments at any level in the United States cannot interfere with the free exercise of religion, nor can they endorse or enforce a lack of religion, which these Blaine Amendments cannot help but to do. These Amendments are patently discriminatory and they must be struck down.
FPIW has participated in filing an amicus (friend-of-the-Court) brief in this case, on your behalf – to ensure that Washingtonians’ voices are heard on this issue. If the Supreme Court comes down on our side on this case, every Blaine Amendment in the United States could be ruled unconstitutional in one swift blow. The government cannot discriminate against people of faith, faith-based institutions, or faith-based schools.
You know how radical our schools have become. This is a game-changing ruling for Washington state!
What We Need from You
We’re going to battle on this issue, and this court case couldn’t have come at a better time: next week is School Choice Week.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure that Blaine Amendments across the nation die a swift and permanent death:
- Please pray for our Supreme Court Justices to have wisdom as they hear arguments on this case, and for the attorneys arguing against religious discrimination to deliver strong arguments;
- Please bookmark FPIW’s Bill Tracker page, which will host progress reports on all bills of interest here in Washington State – some of which will be on the issue of school choice;
- If you’re able, please consider pitching in to assist FPIW in educating Washingtonians on their education rights – we rely on support from Washingtonians like you to do the work we do.