When the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized school vouchers in 2002, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs called it “a devastating blow to one of the foundations of our democracy”: the separation of church and state. Four years earlier, JCPA had conducted a yearlong study that affirmed its opposition to vouchers.
But at JCPA’s annual conference next month, the organization will reconsider vouchers, tax credits and other public funding for Jewish day schools. Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel for JCPA, said the reexamination stems from a meeting with Jewish leaders from around the country.
“There was keen interest among a very broad range of leadership to take a fresh look at the issue,” Felson told JTA. (more…)
The GOP candidates’ struggle to outdo each other in appealing to Christian fundamentalists continues. Rick Santorum, the current favorite of this constituency, topped his previous plays with his remark that John F. Kennedy’s famed 1960 speech on the importance of a separation between religion and government “makes me throw up.”
The separation of church and state is not some abstract notion, nor is it a means of oppressing people. It very reasonably keeps people from imposing their religious beliefs on other people. These are not beliefs that can be objectively measured or empirically tested—like, say, the hypothesis that public spending can affect employment levels. Religious beliefs may be comforting or helpful to some people, but no matter how deeply felt, they can have no place in a rational, shared system of managing outcomes for all Americans.