Dave and Amy Carsons of Bangor, Maine, sent their daughter to Bangor Christian Catholic School. They decided to apply for a study grant, but were not approved. According to the state’s Student Support Program, it cannot be obtained for those who enroll their children in schools where the religion is taught. The Carsons family is one of three families that have sued the authorities. Ultimately, the Supreme Court found the program unconstitutional.

‘States cannot exclude religious schools’

Card. Timothy M. Dolan, chair of the American Episcopal Committee on Religious Freedom, and Bishop Thomas A. Daly, chairman of the Catholic Education Commission, satisfied with the verdict.

The court rightly ruled that the constitution protects not only the right to be religious, but also religious behaviour. […] It also reaffirmed that states may not exclude religious schools from publicly available public services on the basis of their religious affiliation or religious practice. In our pluralistic society, it is extremely important that all believers are able to participate in publicly available programs and thus contribute to the common good, the clergy have emphasized.

Anti-Catholic Blaine Amendment

Maine is the state in which Senator James G. Blaine worked in the late 19th century to adopt the so-called “Blaine Amendments,” an anti-Catholic amendment to the United States Constitution intended to ensure that public services were not provided to “denominational” schools. Although ultimately not voted on, 37 states passed laws that somewhat restrict funding for religious education.

“This has nothing to do with the government’s neutrality toward religion, but rather an expression of hostility to Catholics. We are grateful for the Supreme Court’s continued defense of this harmful legacy.”

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