A Baptist Minister Speaks Out for Separation of Church and State and Against Private School Vouchers

At a time when the Southern Baptist Convention has fallen completely under the control of religious fundamentalists who seek to use government to promote their own ideological views, it might be hard to remember the long tradition of Baptist support for separation of church and state. Many Baptists still support it. Take, for example, the Rev. Charles Johnson, pastor of Bread Fellowship in Fort Worth. On Tuesday he spoke before the Texas Senate Education Committee against Senate Bill 23, a measure that would provide state tax credits to businesses that fund voucher scholarships for students at private and religious schools. He was testifying on behalf of the Christian Life Commission and the Coalition for Public Schools. TFN is a member of that coalition, which opposes private school voucher schemes.

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the author of SB 23 and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has argued repeatedly that his bill doesn’t create a government-funded voucher program that subsidizes tuition at nonpublic schools. But Rev. Johnson clearly and correctly explained that the bill’s tax breaks for businesses would take money that would otherwise go to public schools and send it to private and religious schools instead. And he spoke eloquently and firmly about the importance of separation of church and state and the threat vouchers pose to that key constitutional principle.

To that we say: “Amen.”

6 thoughts on “A Baptist Minister Speaks Out for Separation of Church and State and Against Private School Vouchers

  1. He better watch it. My Baptist minister in Texas invited the local African American congregation to our revival and the decons flat ass fired him.

  2. The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is a fine institution. The Southern Baptist Convention maliciously dropped its financial support of the BJC in 1991, but other Baptist state conventions continue to support it. I met James Dunn (former BJC exec. director) once and spoke with him. He was a highly principled man working to support separation of religion and government in the U.S. When the SBC was taken over by the Fundamentalists, they rejected the BJC, its support of church-state separation, and the secular nature of U.S. government. They began to do whatever they could to force their values onto all Americans using the political power of public officials. We have seen this frequently in Texas.

  3. Kudos to the Reverend for upholding the Constitution and his own foundational religious tradition.

  4. Just to expand a little on what Steve said, the traditional Baptist Church in the United States was the original founder of the basic principle of religion and state separation, beginning with Roger Williams in New England in the 1600s. Yes, it goes that far back—to a time when there were no liberals and conservatives in the sense that we think of today. Moreover, the traditional Baptist Church in this country sustained and remained the key supporter of that bedrock principal of separation up until 1979 when the Southern Baptist Convention was taken over by a minority faction of nontraditional, right-wing-nut-job Southern Baptists in 1979. I have emphasized the word “traditional” in the foregoing text because right wing conservatives are always flapping and flailing about how we need to “take back our country” and reinstitute all of those tried and true old ways. Well, it is a well-documented historical fact (no liberal BS here) that separation of religion and government was one of those traditional old tried and true ways.

  5. P.S. The right wing nut jobs that have run the Republican Party into the ground (witness the past several election cycles), including people like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, have tried to silence this historical fact about separation of government and religion in exactly the same propagandistic ways that North Korea keeps information from its citizens. This is a basic, bedrock fact of American history that they desperately desire to keep from the American people because it does not align with their extremist, anti-American ideology. This is one of they key reasons the Republican Party (by the own admission of its brighter lights) is in desperate need of reform.

    Watch the first of the video and just substitute the words “Republican Party” for “Carol Ann.”