We protect church-state separation by working on a range of issues, from commenting on agency regulations and urging the Obama Administration to change the Faith-Based Initiative to opposing school voucher legislation around the country.
AU, along with the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE), continues our work in opposition to the DC voucher program. We fought against reauthorization of the program, which Congress unfortunately passed earlier this year, and we continue to monitor appropriations for the program.
HHS Contraception Regulations
AU recently submitted comments in response to the Department of Health and Human Service’s proposed rule concerning coverage of contraceptives as preventative care under the Affordable Care Act. The rule contains an exemption for a narrow segment of religious employers that many on the right want to broaden. AU’s comments explain that expansive exemptions are far more likely to violate the Constitution and the Administration should not cave to pressures to expand those exempt from covering this health care.
We are closely monitoring the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to ensure that no amendments providing for federal voucher programs are attached in the process. Our Legislative Department has coordinated the efforts of the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE) to fight off any potential voucher amendments and inform members of Congress of the ineffectiveness of these programs as well as the rights and protections lost by students who participate.
With the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD), AU continues to fight the against the Faith-Based Initiative and ongoing federally funded employment discrimination. Most recently, the coalition sent a letter signed by 56 organizations to President Obama strongly urging him to keep his campaign promise and end the practice of allowing religious organizations to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion when using federal funds. You can see our letter here. Then, take action:
Vouchers in the States
An unprecedented number of state legislatures are introducing private school voucher programs, and AU is hard at work ensuring they do not pass. From delivering testimony and talking points to briefing staffers and coordinating efforts with coalition partners, we are deeply involved across the country in protecting the best interests of students and their families.
AU and our coalition partners have been imploring the Administration to drop the proposed USAID rule that would allow government money to fund projects involving religious organizations and buildings overseas. We submitted comments to USAID urging them to withdraw the proposed rule.
Just this year, AU successfully engaged in an effort to defeat an amendment that would have created a private school voucher program for military dependent children with special needs. This program would have resulted in a loss of rights for those students participating as well as a decrease in funding for the Federal Impact Aid Program for military bases and Indian lands. We continue to monitor federal legislation and work against any introduction or passage of military voucher programs.