FFRF asks NYC to drop support for religious schools

The Freedom From Religion Foundation today protested the allocation of nearly $20 million per year in taxpayer money to private schools, including religious parochial schools, in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill into law yesterday, Jan. 5. The money is designated for hiring security.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the state/church watchdog, objected to the “misappropriation” of taxpayer funds in a letter to de Blasio. “This action will finance religion with millions of taxpayer dollars,” Gaylor said. “This is not in the best interests of all New York City citizens.”

“The NYPD is already tasked with protecting students who attend private schools. If the city sees a need for increased protection, the funds should go to the NYPD, which would then decide how best to use those resources,” FFRF notes.

The letter quotes New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm, who said that the religious schools receiving these funds may “embrace homophobia, transphobia, and other horrific ideologies, and subject our young people to them on a daily basis in the classroom.” FFRF’s letter points out that a city must ensure its funds are not used for discriminatory hiring, and “a prohibition against allowing private schools to discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, or sexual orientation would be an impermissible government entanglement with religion.”

“This is the fourth time we have written to you in less than a year regarding the promotion of religion while acting in your official capacity as the mayor of New York City,” Gaylor wrote. Among FFRF’s recent concerns: the city’s ticket giveaway for an appearance by Pope Francis in Central Park in September and a “Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council” in August. 

“We are dismayed at the erosion of respect for the wall of separation between state and church by your office. In our pluralistic modern society, increasingly tolerant and irreligious, public funds should not be given to private, often dogmatically intolerant, religious institutions,” concluded Gaylor.

FFRF has more than 23,000 members nationwide, including more than 1,250 in New York, many in New York City.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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