For Immediate Release
Sam Gerard, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-238-9088×105
(Washington, DC, June 30, 2020) – Leaders at the American Humanist Association (AHA) lambasted today’s 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue favoring the further use of public funds for sectarian purposes.
AHA Legal Director and Senior Counsel Monica Miller reacted to the news of the decision: “The constitutionally protected right to free exercise can only truly be observed when the government has no part in the funding or oversight of religious institutions. It is unsettling to see state-funded religious institutions further codified with today’s ruling.”
The AHA signed an amicus (friend of the court) brief, alongside other major nontheist organizations, noting that, “this case is not about discrimination; it is about government-compelled support of religion. Above all, religious freedom means that no taxpayer is compelled to financially support a religion or religious education that is not their own.”
The legal challenge began after Montana legislation allowing a tax credit for those who donate to organizations providing scholarships to students in private schools. The Montana Supreme Court invalidated this tax-credit program in 2018 because the scholarships created by the program could be used at religious schools, violating the state constitution. Now, through this program, the state may divert millions of government dollars specifically to religious organizations.
Roy Speckhardt, AHA Executive Director, criticized the ruling: “It is an unequivocal loss that our government can now force taxpayers to fund private religious schools and missions—unfairly benefitting religious students and funding some institutions that offer a free pass to the religious right to discriminate.”
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The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.