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education. This has meant that many of the non-public schools have moved partially into the establishment and have been the legal beneficiaries of some of their taxes. However, the non-public schools supporters have never been allowed to shift any of their property taxes to the support of their own schools.
Thus, multiple establishment has not been fully carried out. The established public school system is the only system with complete legal and financial connections with the State. At the time of the passing of the first amendment, any cooperation between the State and any or all churches was considered to be establishment. There can be no doubt that the public school system is the one and only fully established system of mind guidance and development in our country today.
The meaning of multiple establishments has been conveniently overlooked, or never understood by the various groups today who urge that cooperation between church and State is admissible so long as the State treats all religious groups equally and fairly. This has been the reasoning behind the multiple school systems in the Netherlands where there are basically three systems, Christian, Catholic and Public as well as a few other small systems. The State of course would rule out some groups not considered legitimate but the principle of multiple establishment is the same whether few, many, or all religious groups are taken into it.
III. Separation. It was soon discovered that the compromise of establishing all recognized churches even on an equal or impartial basis was not sufficient.
So long as the State was in the position of determining which churches should have legal and financial privileges of support, there could be no real equality of religious conscience. It was still a grant of privilege by the State to a religious doctrine. Such a principle could not square with the growing belief fostered by the enlightenment that equal rights of conscience were natural and inalienable rights which the State could not infringe and which the State must protect.
SIMILARITY.--This is precisely the belief of many parents who send their children to non-public schools. It is the duty of the State to guard and protect the natural and inalienable right of freedom and equality of conscience. As proof of inequality we cite :
The General Laws of the State of Michigan provide :
1. The Superintendent of Public Instruction is hereby given supervision of all the private, denominational and parochial schools of this State in such matters as is hereinafter provided. (388, 551 M.S.A. 15, 1921).
2. No person shall teach or give instruction in any of the regular or elementary grade studies in any private, denominational or parochial school within this State who does not hold a certificate such as would qualify him or her to teach in like grades of the schools of the State. (388, 553 M.S.A. 15, 1923).
3. The Superintendent of Public Instruction may conduct hearings, issue orders to comply, or close non-public schools. If the order of the Superintendent of Public Instruction . . . shall not have been obeyed within the time specified herein said superintendent ... may close said school and prohibit the said person, persons, corporation, association or other agencies operating or maintaining such private, denominational or parochial school from maintaining said school or from exercising any of the functions hereunder until said order of the superintendent ... has been complied with. The children attending a private, denominational or parochial school refusing to comply with the requirements hereof after proceedings herein set forth shall be compelled to attend public schools or approved private, denominational or parochial school under the provisions of the Compulsory Education Act, the same being No. 200 of the Public Acts of 1905, as amended. (388, 554 M.S.A. 15, 1924).
4. The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall have authority at any time to investigate and examine into the conditions of any school operating under this act as to matters hereinbefore set forth and it shall be the duty of such school to admit to such superintendent ... to submit for examination its sanitary condition, the records of enrollment of pupils, its courses of studies ... and the qualification of its teachers. Any refusal to comply with provisions herein on the part of such school or teacher shall be considered sufficient cause to suspend the operation of said school after proceedings taken as stated in Section 4 of this act. (388, 555 M.S.A. 15, 1925).
5. Nothing in this act contained shall be construed so as to permit any parochial, denominational, or private school to participate in the distribution of the primary school fund. (388, 557 M.S.A. 15, 1927).
6. In the following cases, children shall not be required to attend the public schools: Any child who is attending regularly and is being taught in a private,
parochial or denominational school which has complied with all the provisions of this act and teaches subjects comparable to those taught in the public schools to children of corresponding age and grade, as determined by the course of study for the public schools of the district within which such private, denominational or parochial school is located. (340, 732 M.S.A. 15, 1932).
These General Laws of the State of Michigan make some facts very clear. They are :
1. Public education is the established system in the State of Michigan.
2. The Superintendent of Public Instruction has the legal authority to supervise all non-public schools and pass judgment on the effectiveness of these schools. In addition, he has the authority to set standards in education, certification and qualification.
3. Non-public schools may not receive tax benefits.
4. Non-public schools are legal if they meet public school standards. The state obviously is deeply involved in determining which schools meet its standards. Thus, the state is deeply involved in operating a multiple establishment but without providing financial backing for those schools which meet the standards laid down by the state. There is no separation, no equality of conscience. The laws of Michigan make it very clear it will grant privilege to some but not all of its citizens. This is entirely contrary to the meaning of the first amendment.
It is interesting to consider specific events in the State of Virginia which preceded the writing and the ratification of the first amendment. This is true because those most responsible for the writing into our Constitution of the first amendment were two Virginians—Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. By referring to the events in the State of Virginia which preceded the writing of the first amendment, we can find exactly what was meant by the founding fathers when in the first amendment they provided that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".
After 1776 there arose in Virginia a great conflict between those who wanted religious freedom and freedom from coercive taxation for purposes they objected to, and those who wanted to retain an establishment of religion. The crucial question was whether ge ral taxes should be levied for the support of all the denominations.
The issue is of crucial importance as this is precisely the question of the supporters of non-public schools. Should taxes be levied for the support of all of the schools which the Superintendent of Public Instruction deems qualified ?
In the Virginia Legislature of 1779, James Henry wished to establish by law virtually all of the Christian Churches as established churches and to levy taxes for the support of all of them on an impartial basis. By this was meant that there would be an official connection between the State and one or more churches, whereby the State recognized such church or churches and provided for taxation for its or their support.
The State of Michigan has established an official connection between the State and the established public school system and it recognizes this school system by giving it financial support. In addition, it recognizes other school systems but does not give them financial aid.
In the same legislature James Madison introduced Thomas Jefferson's bill for religious freedom in Virginia. It is one of the great documents authored prior to the writing of the Constitution. It laid down two propositions. First, the proposition that there should be no religious qualification as a test for holding office; and second, the proposition that it is sinful and tyrannical to tax a man for the propagation of doctrines which he disbelieves.
This is precisely the case that we wish to make. That it is tyrannical and sinful to tax a man for the support and propagation of a secular philosophical system which he disbelieves, to the exclusion of all other philosophies. Thomas Jefferson's great document is quoted below, with comments that contrast the ideal of Jefferson to the reality of tax supported compulsory public education. Thomas Jefferson's Bill for Religious Freedom
Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free ... to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinfúl and tyrannical :
Comment: The law states that we must support compulsory public education ... "that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern,"
Comment: Citizens should be free to choose which type of school they want to provide the guidance, teaching, and moral instruction of their children without a heavy financial penalty.
.. and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness
therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion,
Comment: The state holds out the opportunity of free compulsory education as long as we will just set aside our religious convictions and avail ourselves of this free gift.
is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right;
Comment: State laws state in effect that we do not have a natural right at present.
that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage by bribing with a monopoly
Comment: That is what the public school system has.
... of worldly honors and emoluments; those who will externally profess and conform to it ... to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion,
Comment: The Superintendent of Public Instruction decides which non-public schools meet public school standards.
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty,
Comment: We are judged to be outside of the public system, thus not eligible for support.
because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;
Comment : Many do not use the public system, but must pay for it, yet receive no support for the system they use.
that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil governments, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;
Comment: Non-public schools never advocated rebellion or the overthrow of society and hence constitute no civil threat.
and finally that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Comment: There is no one version of the truth. Each group can claim the truth.
Be it enacted by the general assembly : That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, Comment : All are compelled to support public schools.
nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinion or belief;
Comment : Many have this freedom only if they can fully pay for separate religious school systems.
but that all men shall be free to profess, Comment : Public school tax laws contradict this.
and by argument maintain, their opinion in matters of religion and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or effect their civil capacities.
Comment: In America civil capacities are diminished. Views of many are not worthy of tax support.
III The rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural rights.
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Comment: The public school tax laws should not operate only for their exclusive benefits at the expense of others.
In order to clarify the issue, a new bill, parallel to that proposed by Jefferson ought to be enacted. Here below is a guide for what could be a new bill for religious educational freedom.
Whereas Almighty God has created the mind free .. to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical ; that even forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the confortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular school system, whose moral outlook and values he shares and whose teaching he feels most persuasive to civic, moral and spiritual righteousness therefore the proscribing any citizens as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of receiving his own tax funds for his schools, unless he professes that his schools are not different than the public schools in all respects is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that non-public school system it is meant to encourage, by holding out full public support to those school supporters who will externally profess and conform to the public school views ... to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain, by legally denying the right of the non-public school supporters to pay their education taxes to their own schools, the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of being parochial, private and denominational is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil governments, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Be it enacted by the Congress ; That no man shall be compelled to attend or support any educational philosophy, institution or teaching whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or, goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument and practice to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion and choice of instruction, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.
The rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
The proposed bill by Thomas Jefferson was postponed in 1779 and no action was taken in Virginia for the next five years. The ideas of Jefferson concerning total freedom from state control for the individual in areas of religious conviction and practices were bold, radical and Virginia was not yet ready to grant this freedom.
When the legislature met again in 1784, Jefferson's bill was reintroduced and this time a new bill was added by Patrick Henry. It is extremely interesting and very useful to study his bill and note the similiarities of his proposed compulsory Christian Religion financing and the compulsory public school laws. Indeed, the two are almost identical. The author of the liberty or death statement was convinced that Christianity must be supported by everyone, just as the supporters of the public schools believe that everyone mustfinancially support the public schools. Fortunately for religious freedom. Patrick Henry's bill did not pass. Unfortunately for the non-public schools supporters, compulsory financing for the public schools exclusively is still with us. Those like Patrick Henry, who wish to benefit the public are often misguided and if their wishes are carried out are quilty of
denying religious liberty to those who by reasons of conscience hold to values and opinions different from the so-called benefactors.
Here then follows the bill by Patrick Henry with comments and where applicable parallel statements from the Constitution of the State of Michigan A Bill Establishing a Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion
Whereas the general diffusion of Christian knowledge hath a natural tendency to correct the morals of men, restrain their vices, and preserve the peace of society; which cannot be effected without a competent provision for learned teachers, who may be thereby enabled to devote their time and attention to the duty of instructing such citizens as from their circumstances and want of education, cannot otherwise attain such knowledge; and it is judged that such provision may be made by the legislature, without counteracting the liberal principle heretofore adopted and intended to be preserved by abolishing all distributions of pre-eminence amongst the different societies or communities of Christians;
Michigan Constitution, Article VIII, Section 1:
“Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall
forever be encouraged.” Be it therefore enacted by the general assembly, that for the support of Christian teachers—per centum on the amount, or in the pound of the sum payable for tax on the property within this Commonwealth, is hereby assessed, and shall be paid by every person chargeable with the said tax at the time the same shall become due; and the sheriffs of the several counties shall have power to levy and collect the same in the same manner and under the like restrictions and limitations, as are or may be prescribed by the laws for raising the revenues of this State;
Michigan Constitution, Article VIII, Section 2:
“The legislature shall maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools as defined by law. Every school district shall provide for the education of its pupils without discrimination as to religion, creed, race, color or national origin.” (Public schools shall be financed by) “the distribution of the primary school fund.” (388, 557 M.S.A.
15, 1927). and be it Enacted that for every sum so paid, the sheriff or collector shall give receipt, expressing therein to what society of Christians the person from whom he may receive the same shall direct the money to be paid, keeping a distinct account thereof in his books. The sheriff of every county, shall on or before the day of in every year, return to the court, upon oath two alphabetical lists of payments to him made, distinguishing in columns opposite to the names of the persons who shall have paid the same, the society to which the money so paid was by them appropriated; and one column for the names where no appropriation shall be made. One of which lists after being recorded in a book to be kept for that purpose, shall be filed by the clerk in his office; the other shall by the sheriff be fixed up in the courthouse, there to remain for the inspection of all concerned. And the sheriff, after deducting 5 per centum for the collection, shall forthwith pay to such person or persons as shall be appointed to receive the same by the vestry, elders or directors, however denominated of each such society, the sum so stated to be due to that society ; or in default thereof, upon the motion of such person or persons to the next or any succeeding court, execution shall be awarded for the same against the sheriff and his security, his and their executors or administrators; provided that 10 days previous notice be given of such motion. And upon every such execution, the officer serving the same shall proceed to immediate sale of the estate taken, and shall not accept of security for payment at the end of 3 months, nor have the goods forthcoming at the day of sale; for his better direc: tion wherein, the clerk shall endorse upon every such execution that no security of any kind shall be taken ; and be it
Further enacted, That the money to be raised by virtue of this act, shall be by the vestries, elders, or directors of each religious society appropriated to a provision for a minister or teacher of the gospel of their denomination, or the providing places of divine worship, and to none other use whatsoever; except in the denominaions of Quakers and Mennonists, who may receive what is collected from their members, and place it in their general funds, to be disposed of in a manner which they shall think best calculated to promote their particular mode of worship; and be it.