(cross-posted from Patheos)
By Hemant Mehta
In Louisiana, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal pushed for a voucher program that would allow state funds to be used to pay for religious schools. It’s unconstitutional, it’s a way to use taxpayer money to fund someone’s faith, and it was a bad idea to begin with.
But it passed.
Now, one of the state legislators, Rep. Valarie Hodges (R-Watson), just made a shocking discovery, though: Christianity isn’t the only religion!
Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.
“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.
“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”
Wait, we’re teaching the “Founders’ religion”? I can’t wait to see those Deistic schools popping up everywhere…
I can’t decide whether the staffers at Americans United are collectively rolling their eyes or shaking their heads in disbelief, but they’re right to suggest “We told you so”:
Where to begin? Hodges’ bigotry is perhaps only rivaled by her ignorance of constitutional and legal principles. Of course Muslim schools will qualify for funding under a voucher plan. When programs like this are set up that dole out benefits to religious schools, the government can’t play favorites. That’s basic.
Some legislators aren’t comfortable funding Muslim schools. What’s to be done? How about not establishing these programs in the first place? Let Muslims fund Muslim schools. Let Catholics fund Catholics ones. Let fundamentalist Protestants pay for the conservative Christian academies and so on.
Rep. Hodges made the mistake of saying out loud what most conservative Christians only say to themselves to private: When they say they want “religious freedom,” they’re only referring to their own faith. Everyone else can fend for themselves.
Message to Rep. Hodges: Your Christian privilege is showing.
Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago.