What in sweet sassy molassy was Gov. John Richard Kasich thinking? Apparently, very little.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced this afternoon that they would be launching an inquiry into Kasich’s recently announced Community Connections mentorship program and whether it violates the First Amendment.
Any school district that wants a piece of that state money must partner with both a church and a business – or a faith-based organization and a non-profit set up by a business to do community service.
No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars.
“You must include a faith-based partner,” United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants at an information session the United Way hosted Thursday here in Cleveland.
Kitson sits on Kasich’s advisory panel for the program, called “Community Connectors,” which is taking applications for grants now.
Methinks Mr. Kasich doth not think too highly of poor ol’ Mr. Madison and the First Amendment to our Bill of Rights. And that’s unfortunate, because the freedom of religion and from it as defined in the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of our U.S. Constitution are spectacularly unique and singularly remarkable achievements in the history of human civilization.
And along comes traipsing John Richard Kasich, born again, to unjustly and illegally hold aloft the dubious virtue of faith in the supernatural as a mandated requirement for state resources.
Not only is this a clear violation of the spirit of separation of church and state—which Madison never tired of reminding us are both immeasurably better off when they are disjoined entirely and completely, for now and forever, amen—it stupidly sets the state up for legal liability.
Let’s hear from the ACLU folk.
“Not only does this clearly interfere with the religious freedom of Ohio families, it places an unconstitutional burden on our public schools and erects another roadblock for at-risk students to access educational opportunities.” ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link said. “As guardians of the First Amendment in Ohio, we will launch a full inquiry into this matter.”
Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said, “Conditioning a public school’s receipt of government funds on collaboration with a religious organization raises serious constitutional concerns. Although improving educational outcomes within our communities is an important goal, it cannot be achieved by unconstitutional means.”
“The First Amendment of the Constitution provides very strong protection against the government imposing religion upon children in public schools,” explained Heather Weaver of the ACLU Program on Religious Freedom and Belief. “This new program appears to disregard those protections and injects religion into our classrooms.”
Mr. Kasich, why don’t you just continue sending education money to your preferred Jesus-Rides-A-Dinosaur for-profit charter schools and stop putting on airs? I mean, sweet Krishna, what is the point of this charade?
More from Cleveland.com:
Partnerships between just schools, business and a community non-profit won’t qualify.
“The faith-based organization is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor,” Harris said after the session.
“We do not forsee any proseletyzing happening between mentors and students,” Harris said. “That’s not really what we’re seeking.”
Really, Mr. Harris, you don’t? Than what is so important about the “faith-based” portion of Mr. Kasich’s vision? Mr. Kasich?
“The Good Lord has a purpose for each and every one of them (students) and you’re helping them to find it,” Kasich said on the video.
Who the hell are these people when they’re at home? The mind boggles.
David DeWitt is a journalist and universal minister based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.