South Carolina lawmakers must rescind $1.5 million donation to religious school

The Freedom From Religion Foundation strongly condemns as unconstitutional and irresponsible a $1.5 million budget in South Carolina to help start a Christian school.

Greenville Christian Learning Centers, which indoctrinated public school students through Bible teaching at the time of liberation, now want to build a $14 million boarding school for 32 at-risk students, with public funds for start-up costs.

As The State newspaper (based in the capital Columbia) asks: “Why is the state giving $1.5 million to an organization that seems less concerned with teaching geography than Sodom and Gomorrah?

“Let’s be honest: these lawmakers are not sponsoring education with this $1.5 million,” the editorial continued. “They sponsor Christianity. With little state control over private schools, there is no way to ensure that the curriculum will teach these children anything. What do these legislators need? For stone tablets to fall from the sky with the words “Thou shalt not give public funds to private schools”.

The newspaper’s point is very much rooted in South Carolina law. The State Constitution explicitly prohibits direct aid to religious or private educational institutions: “No money shall be drawn from the public funds and credit of the State or any of its political subdivisions cannot be used for the direct benefit of a religious or private educational institution. institution.” (article XI, sections 4 and 5)

No wonder the evangelists sought the support of Governor Henry McMaster. Two years ago, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously against his plan to use $32 million in federal Covid relief funds to provide tuition grants to students attending private schools.

“We believe the Governor’s decision constitutes the use of public funds for the direct benefit of private educational institutions within the meaning of and prohibited by Article XI, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution,” the high court said. of State.

The current proposal does not even state how many administrators, teachers or staff would be employed or include an estimate of annual operating expenses. Bob Jones University, which notoriously banned interracial dating until 2000, has financial ties to the organization.

“This mess is not only an insult to constitutional principles, but a direct injury to taxpayers, teachers and underfunded South Carolina public schools,” said FFRF Co-Chair Dan Barker.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 37,000 members nationwide, including hundreds of members in South Carolina. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to non-theism.

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