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January 31, 2013 Print

Legal Group Defends Georgia Scholarship Program

by Bethany Monk

A left-wing foundation that opposes school choice says a Georgia scholarship program should cut Christian schools from participating because these schools have “draconian anti-gay policies and practices.”

The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) recently released an issue brief outlining its position on the topic. The Atlanta Group also complains that the tax credit scholarship program diverts millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to faith-based schools.

But SEF’s accusations are completely false, according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys. ADF sent a letter Monday to lawmakers and Christian schools in the state defending the scholarship program and highlighting SEF’s “mischaracterizations.”

“No one should be ostracized because they don’t share the same sexual agenda as an activist group that opposes school choice,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.

ADF points out in the letter SEF’s inaccurate claims that taxpayer dollars fund private schools. The scholarships are actually funded by donations. The donors get a tax credit.

“SEF’s entire issue brief is grounded in its inaccurate claim that ‘Georgia’s tax credit dollars help finance private schools,’” ADF’s letter explains, noting that the Supreme Court found no merit in similar claims. “The tax credit system is implemented by private action and with no state intervention.”

“The Constitution protects the right of private, Christian schools to teach and follow biblical principles,” Cortman explained. “Any efforts to prevent these schools from participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship program would violate the First Amendment freedoms of these schools and the students who attend them.”

Read ADF’s letter to Georgia lawmakers.