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The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 paved way for superior regulations and programs that supported the needs of all-American citizens. This law emerged as a response to the increased cases of abuse, injustice, and unfairness in different parts of the United States. Although most of the existing regulations promote attributes such as equality and empowerment, the challenge of discrimination continues to affect the effectiveness of different government-sponsored programs. This paper uses two recent lawsuits in an attempt to propose superior procedures and action plans for stopping discrimination against religion.
Discrimination and Sectarian Education
The authors of the article, “Two New Lawsuits Seek to Stop Discrimination against Religion” begin by acknowledging that most of the small towns in the country are usually unable to establish and sustain public high schools. A good example is the city of Glenburn in Maine. This gap explains why the local government allocates adequate funds to different families in order to meet their children’s educational demands. Unfortunately, the state of Maine does not allow families or guardians to spend the allocated funds on any form of religious-based education (Tim and Bindas par. 2). This means that individuals who prefer such learning institutions will not receive the proposed financial allocations.
In 2017, the U.S. Supreme made a landmark ruling in the Trinity Lutheran Church v. Corner (2017) that prohibited all states from pursuing discriminatory policies whenever implementing government-sponsored programs. This precedent set by the highest court in America became a model for guiding other institutions to tackle the above problem. The recent judgments made by different courts in Maine and Washington are aimed at ending any form of discrimination whenever implementing policies for students’ high-school tuition and work-study programs (Tim and Bindas par. 3).
In Washington, it is evident that the government promotes work-study programs by paying a small percentage of learners’ wages. These measures make it possible for students to earn some money and acquire adequate experience. Interested learners are usually required to work in private or public companies.
Unfortunately, there are specific firms or employers that the state deems religious or sectarian. This means that learners who choose such organizations are usually excluded from the intended financial support. Additionally, students who feed the needy or homeless receive adequate payments. However, agencies or shelters managed by religious organizations do not qualify for these funds. Learners can decide to tutor children in private elementary schools (Thro and Russo 17). However, payments will only be made if such institutions are not religious. These issues have forced the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit that is expected to end this kind of malpractice.
In Maine, parents were able to select religious-based learning institutions for their children from the 19th century to 1980. This was after the Attorney General (AG) of Maine declared that it was illegal to allow religious options in the state’s tuition program (Tim and Bindas par. 7). According to this leader, the idea violated the provisions of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. This means that the state has been engaging in an antireligious action that makes it impossible for many students and children to pursue their academic goals. The absence of adequate financial support in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling is something that amounts to religious-based discrimination in this state.
According to the selected article, there are several decisions that policymakers and program managers should consider in an attempt to end inequity against any option pursued in accordance with a family’s religious goals or objectives. The first one is the Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002). The judgment in this case was that school-voucher programs should be pursued in such a way that they include religious considerations or options.
Such a practice would be in accordance with the United States’ Constitution. The same understanding can be considered to explain why states should permit or implement programs that support religious-based tuitions or learning processes (Tim and Bindas par. 6). The outstanding test is that the government should always remain neutral whenever focusing on issues touching on religion. This means that leaders and policymakers should neither disfavor nor favor religious-based initiatives or programs.
The educational programs existing in the states of Washington and Maine should be pursued in such a way that they empower parents and learners to make their personal choices. This means that individuals who wish to pursue their learning objectives from religious organizations and institutions should be empowered to do so (Domingo 229). The government should ensure that all students have access to adequate financial allocations if they are to achieve their academic aims.
Missouri is another state that is known for supporting or promoting exclusionary laws. This is the case since the infamous Blaine amendment was aimed at changing the state’s Constitution. Such a law was proposed by Maine’s accomplished lawmaker and politician by the name James G. Blaine (Tim and Bindas par. 7). This leader drafted a new law that was anti-Catholic in nature. The passage of Blaine’s amendment would have made it illegal for the American government to fund programs in schools associated with the Catholic religion. Sadly, the proposal preserved funding for Protestant-sponsored schools in different states across the country.
Tim and Bindas go further to indicate that many state governments managed to embrace the amendments proposed by Blaine (par. 7). Consequently, the state of Maine managed to ban all religious learning institutions from receiving government funds.
From the above rulings and cases, it is evident that the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that all discriminatory regulations ignored the provisions the First Amendment. This means that federal courts in the country should follow the determinations made in the above two court findings in an attempt to give all parents equal opportunities and empower their children to pursue their objectives. They will be empowered and supported to select the best institutions for their children.
The concept of equality is something that many scholars, analysts, and theorists have continued to analyze from a sociological perspective. In the United States, numerous laws and regulations have emerged to empower citizens and make it possible for them to pursue their objectives. Unfortunately, the problem of discrimination still affects the effectiveness and efficiency of many programs in the country (Thro and Russo 14). The above discussion has indicated that the issue of religion influences different educational settings and agendas. The outcome is that many people still find it hard to make choices or benefit from various government-based resources. Several recommendations are necessary if the current situation is to change.
The first one is for state governments and leaders to focus on the concerns highlighted in the above cases determined by the U.S. Supreme Court. This approach can empower them to formulate new policies that will ensure that all programs are aimed at meeting every learner’s needs. They should have access to financial support and academic resources. The decisions made should be informed by the demands of the targeted students in small towns across the country that is unable to sustain public high schools (Domingo 243). This move will encourage and empower parents to select the most appropriate education for their children.
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The second recommendation is for states like Washington to support all work-study programs even if they are offered in religious institutions. The most important thing should be the role of such internships in empowering or equipping students with appropriate competencies that can support their future career demands (Thro and Russo 22). The provision of adequate salaries is an idea that can encourage all students from pursuing their professional goals.
The above discussion has revealed that the existing laws in the United States present powerful guidelines for tackling the challenge of prejudice. The Supreme Court has also indicated that most of the discriminatory regulations in different states are against the dictates of the First Amendment. The selected article has gone further to present two cases that are informed by the Constitution in an attempt to promote equality and make it possible for all people to lead quality lives. State governments should consider the above recommendations in order to transform every inappropriate program. The ultimate goal should be to promote equality and ensure that students who decide to study or work in religious institutions receive adequate financial support.
Domingo, Rafael. “A Right to Religious and Moral Freedom?” International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 12, no. 1, 2014, pp. 226-247.
Thro, William, and Charles Russo. “Expanding the Rights of Student Religious Groups on College and University Campuses: The Implications of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer.” Laws, vol. 7, no. 1, 2018, pp. 11-24.
Tim, Keller, and Michael Bindas. “Two New Lawsuits Seek to Stop Discrimination against Religion.” The Wall Street Journal. 2018. Web.