Catholics, Orthodox Jews Seek Tax Subsidies for Religious Education

Article excerpt

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined forces with two Orthodox Jewish groups to demand taxpayer support of private religious education.

The bishops teamed up with the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union on the Oct. 25 statement. Although Orthodox Jews and the Catholic hierarchy have pushed for tax aid for years, this was their first joint statement.

The statement reads in part, "We have committed ourselves and our institutions to creating educational environments that strive to imbue in our children the highest moral values, a depth of knowledge, and a proficiency in skills enabling them to support themselves and their families, and to benefit society at large.

"Many Catholic and Jewish parents are committed to providing their children with this education, and struggle mightily to do so," it continued. "Others, including those who may not be members of our faith communities, wish to send their children to schools where they can receive the best possible education, but cannot afford the cost. We join together to call upon our elected and appointed officials to implement policies which will empower all parents to choose schools for their children which they believe best serve each child's own individual, educational needs."

Opponents point out that sectarian schools serve unique religious interests and, unlike public schools, remain unaccountable to the taxpayers. Many of the schools, especially those run by fundamentalist Protestants, infuse all aspects of the curriculum with dogma and even controversial social policies. They are also broadly free to deny admission to children or expel them. …