Tax Credit Scholarships in Texas are facing a coordinated, albeit misleading, campaign from school choice opponents. One leading source of criticism comes from a group of religious leaders called Pastors for Texas Children.
The group makes a number of incorrect claims including that private schools can “discriminate on race…” The U.S. Supreme Court settled that issue in 1976 deciding that private school admissions could not be based on race.
The pastors also argue the scholarship program would “divert public money to religious schools in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits any establishment of religion.”
Putting aside the pastors’ confusion over the difference between school vouchers and tax-credit scholarships, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 13 years ago, in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, that school vouchers pass constitutional muster if education is the primary purpose and if parents have options from a variety of religious and non-religious schools.
The First Amendment protects religious pluralism. That’s good news for a group of pastors whose own institutions are likely supported by tax -deductible donations and tax-exemptions.