Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Voucher Question: Why Are Wisconsin Taxpayers Forced To Pay For Other Kids' Religious Schooling?

The state Constitution says people shouldn't be compelled to pay for places of worship — it's time to start living up to that standard

Mike Pence's visit to our fair city on Tuesday, to promote school vouchers, has sent me into rant-mode...

Let's start this out by saying straight from the get-go, there's nothing inherently wrong with parents choosing to send their children to schools that are religious in nature, or secular private schools either, for that matter. It's a choice of the parent to do so, and it should be respected.

It's the other parents and non-parents across the state, who don't get a say in the matter, that concerns me, when it comes to voucher schools in Wisconsin.

While the private school parents might pay for some of their kids' schooling, in the voucher system we have set up, all citizens — whether they want to or not — collectively foot the bill for thousands of students to go to private, costing all of us nearly $350 million in 2019 alone.

Some of these schools, as mentioned, are parochial, which means taxpayer dollars are essentially being used to fund religious organizations. Under what should be a strict separation of church and state, that shouldn't happen; however, a State Supreme Court ruling in 1998 allows it to persist, errantly, in my mind.

Forgive me for sounding like a die-hard libertarian for a moment here, but what gives the state the right to decide my taxpayer funds should go to fund a religious organization (or organizations, for that matter) I have serious objections with? The state can, of course, fund programs that groups of people are objectionable to, but doing so to promote a religious cause (or a number of religious schools) goes against the tenets of our nation's founding document.

Indeed, it arguably goes against our state's governing document, too:
"The right of every person to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed; nor shall any person be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, without consent
These schools aren't always trustworthy, either. The idea that the "invisible hand" will somehow guide parents to the best and most reliable institutions, religious or secular, is not something they can count on. One such school, in 2015, shuttered its doors just two weeks after the school year had started. That school had received millions of dollars in the years prior, thanks to the Milwaukee voucher program.

I don't share my religious viewpoints often on this blog, although I have written about the subject to some extent. But there are three ideals in my mind I believe in strongly enough to express right now:
  • More Christians need to adhere to the lessons from "The Sermon on the Mount," and treat their neighbors with respect and care, regardless of what they themselves believe;
  • More Christians need to read Matthew 6:5-6, and pray not as hypocrites do, but rather keep their personal (and religious) affairs more, well, personal;
  • And the government mustn't ever compel citizens to prop up any organization that they do not agree with.
As a state taxpayer, I disagree with public financing of private schools, particularly those with a religious bent. It goes against my personal morals and religious beliefs.

Those schools aren't bad, nor is religion a bad thing. But forcing people to fund them, against their wishes, is contemptible.


  1. This ridiculous Voucher Program will be snuffed out when a sane, meaning Democratic, majority in the legislature restores equally sane methods of funding public education.

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