DeVos allows religious groups to provide educational services
FREE Catholic Classes
The Department of Education will no longer enforce a provision that forbids religious organizations from providing federally-funded educational services to private schools. The decision was announced in a March 11 letter addressed to congressional leadership.
Washington D.C., (CNA) - "Those seeking to provide high-quality educational services to students and teachers should not be discriminated against simply based on the religious character of their organization," wrote Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in the Monday letter.
"The Trinity Lutheran decision reaffirmed the long-understood intent of the First Amendment to not restrict the free exercise of religion," she wrote, referencing the 2017 Supreme Court decision in the case Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer.
That decision found that the state of Missouri acted illegally in not awarding Trinity Lutheran Church a grant for resurfacing a playground located at its preschool and daycare center. The grants were awarded to similar, but non-religious, organizations. Trinity Lutheran was denied solely because it has a religious affiliation.
In the decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court said that Missouri had violated the First Amendment by denying the grant to to the church.
Citing the decision, DeVos said the department will stop enforcing the specific provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)--sections 1117(d)(2)(B) and 8501(d)(2)(B)-- that prevent religious groups from providing specific services, including tutoring, special education programs, and mentoring.
The ESEA says that those enrolled in both public and private schools must receive "equitable services," which can be provided by contractors. Until the Monday announcement, those contractors could not belong to any sort of religious organization, and in the case of private schools they must be independent of the school.
In the letter addressed to Congressional leadership, DeVos said these two provisions were unconstitutional.
"After consultation with the Department of Justice, I have concluded that the requirement in ESEA sections 1117(d)(2)(B) and 8501(d)(2)(B) that an equitable services provider be 'independent of . . . any religious organization' impermissibly excludes a class of potential equitable services providers based solely on their religious status, just like the State policy that was struck down in Trinity Lutheran," said DeVos in the letter.
The secretary said that the exclusion of religious organizations by virtue of their beliefs constituted a "status-based prohibition" that "cannot be justified."
DeVos wrote that allowing both religious and secular organizations to provide these services would not violate the Establishment Clause, and that "the Department generally considers faith-based organizations to be eligible to contract with grantees and subgrantees and to apply for and receive Department grants on the same basis as any other private organization."
All other provisions of the ESEA, including that the equitable services provided be "secular, neutral, and nonideological" would still be enforced, DeVos said.
Mark Rienzi, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a professor at the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law, told CNA that he believes the change is "actually constitutionally required."
"What the Department of Education said was they understand that the Constitution and the Supreme Court's recent decisions about the Constitution make clear that the government can't exclude religious people and religious organizations from participating in otherwise neutral programs," Rienzi told CNA.
Rienzi explained that it would be different if the government were hiring people to preach religion or to celebrate Mass, but in this case, it involves hiring teachers from a religiously-affiliated school to teach secular subjects, such as English as a second language classes.
"What the Department of Education said is that the Constitution does not allow the government to exclude religious groups and religious organizations from participating on equal terms with everybody else in those kinds of programs," he explained.
The idea that the government forbids religious groups from equal participation in programs is "just not the law," he said.
Rienzi compared the past Department of Education policy to one that would forbid the fire department from putting out a fire at a church.
"The church is a building in town just like the library, the bookstore, and the drugstore and everything else. And of course, the government can and should provide equal services and let them participate on equal terms with everybody else."
Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2019
Young People and the Example of Mary. That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is urging his fellow governors to "be bold" on the issue of life. Frankfort, Ky., (CNA) - The first-term ... continue reading
An Ohio bill seeking to limit insurance coverage of non-lifesaving abortions erroneously states that a procedure exists in which a doctor ... continue reading
Earlier this week, the state of Alabama passed legislation to make abortion a felony. The measure is the nation's strongest prohibition on ... continue reading
The Missouri Senate has passed a bill that would ban most abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. Legislators responsible for the bill ... continue reading
Fertility rates in the United States have fallen to an all-time low, according to provisional figures released by the Centers for Disease ... continue reading
FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything
by Catholic Online
- Pope Francis tells medical professionals to defend life
- Pro-life activists call for acquittal of doctor who refused to ...
- St. Bernardine of Siena: Saint of the Day for Monday, May 20, 2019
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 HD Video
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 HD Video
- Daily Readings for Monday, May 20, 2019
- 'Stand firm for life against the evil opposing it' Kentucky governor ...
- Daily Reading for Monday, May 20th, 2019 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Friday, May 17th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, May 19th, 2019 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Thursday, May 16th, 2019 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org
Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel
Learn the Catholic way
Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all
K-12 & Adult Education Classes
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.