Ron Paul
2002 Ron Paul Chapter 2

Resolution Violates Spirit Of Establishment Clause

29 January 2002

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Congressional Record (Page H94)   Cached

2002 Ron Paul 2:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the sponsors of the H. Res. 335 in honoring the success of Catholic Schools in providing a quality education to millions of children around the country. However, I am concerned that this resolution also contains language that violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the establishment clause of the first amendment, thus insulting the millions of religious Americans who are struggling to educate their children free from federal control and endangering religious liberty.

2002 Ron Paul 2:2
The success of Catholic schools has been remarkable. Catholic schools operating in the inner-city have been able to provide an excellent education to students written off by the educational establishment as “unteachable.” Contrary to the claims of their critics, Catholic schools do not turn away large numbers of children in order to limit their enrollment to the “best and the brightest.” In fact, a few years ago the Archdiocese of New York offered to enroll all students who had been expelled from New York’s public schools! Mr. Speaker, I have introduced legislation, the Family Education Freedom Act (H.R. 368) which would help more parents afford to send their children to Catholic, or other religious schools, by providing them with a $3,000 tax credit for K–12 education expenses.

2002 Ron Paul 2:3
While I join with the sponsors of this legislation in praising Catholic schools, I am disturbed by the language explicitly endorsing the goals of the United States Catholic Conference. The Catholic Conference is an organization devoted to spreading and advancing Catholicism. While the Conference may advance other social goods through its work, these purposes are secondary to its primary function of advancing the Catholic faith. This is especially true in the case of Catholic schools which were founded and are operated with the explicit purpose of integrating Catholic doctrine into K–12 education.

2002 Ron Paul 2:4
Therefore, even though Congress intends to honor the ways Catholic schools help fulfill a secular goal, the fact is Congress cannot honor Catholic schools without endorsing efforts to promulgate the Catholic faith. By singling out one sect over another, Congress is playing favorites among religions. While this does not compare to the type of religious persecution experienced by many of the founders of this country, it is still an example of the type of federal favoritism among religions that the first amendment forbids.

2002 Ron Paul 2:5
What is the superintendent of a Baptist private school or a Pentecostal home schooler going to think when reading this resolution? That Congress does not think they provide children with an excellent education or that Congress does not deem their religious goals worthy of federal endorsement? In a free republic the legislature should not be in the business of favoring one religion over another. I would also like to point out the irony of considering government favoritism of religion in the context of praising the Catholic schools, when early in this century Catholic schools were singled out for government-sanctioned discrimination because they were upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church.

2002 Ron Paul 2:6
Allowing Congress to single out certain religions for honors not only insults those citizens whose faith is not recognized by Congress, it also threatens the religious liberty of those honored by Congress. This is because when the federal government begins evaluating religious institutions, some religious institutions may be tempted to modify certain of their teachings in order to curry favor with political leaders. I will concede that religious institutions may not water down their faith in order to secure passage of “Sense of Congress resolutions,” however, the belief that it is proper to judge religious institutions by how effectively they fulfill secular objectives is at the root of the proposals to entangle the federal government with state-approved religions by providing taxpayer dollars to religious organizations in order to perform various social services. Providing taxpayer money to churches creates the very real risk that a church may, for example, feel the need to downplay its teaching against abortion or euthanasia in order to maintain favor with a future pro-abortion administration and thus not lose its federal funding.

2002 Ron Paul 2:7
Of course, the idea that politicians should bestow favors on religions based on how well they fulfill the aims of the politicians is one that should be insulting to all believers no matter their faith. After all, despite what a few of my colleagues seem to think, Mr. Speaker, we in Congress are neither omnipotent nor divine.

2002 Ron Paul 2:8
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I join the sponsors of H. Res. 335 in their admiration for the work of Catholic schools. However, I also have reservations about the language singling out the religious goals of one faith for praise.

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