Washington, D.C. – In response to the inclusion of a rider in the 2011 budget negotiation that will reinstate the Washington, D.C. school voucher program and allow it to accept additional students, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:
I was disappointed to see not only the District of Columbia, but innocent school children, become pawns in the contentious negotiation over the federal budget last week. The inclusion of a provision that not only extends the flawed and failed D.C. school voucher program, but allows for new students to be admitted and millions of tax payer dollars to flow to private religious schools clearly violates the boundaries between institutions of religion and government. Though religious schools provide an important service to many students and families, Interfaith Alliance adamantly believes that public funds should not go to private religious schools or to any educational institutions that may discriminate against students and teachers based on religion.
Vouchers create unnecessary entanglement between the institutions of religion and government. This is especially true in the District of Columbia where we know from Department of Education studies that roughly 82 percent of students participating in the voucher program use these tax payer funds to attend religious schools. As we have since we were founded, we will fight in the halls of Congress and in our communities to ensure that voucher programs for sectarian schools are eliminated, not expanded.
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.