Bush supports 'vouchers' by name; Supreme Court may have helped faith-based initiative
Remember the controversy last year over federally funded school vouchers? It turns out that even during that entire debate, President Bush didn't ever use the word vouchers. At least that's what The Washington Times says today. Speaking in Cleveland yesterday, three days after the Supreme Court ruled the city's school voucher program is constitutional, Bush finally said it for the first time as President. "We're interested in aiming toward excellence for every child. And the voucher system is a part of the strategy to achieve that here in Cleveland," he said. "One of my jobs is to make sure that we continue to insist upon reform, to take this court decision, and encourage others to make the same decision at the local level."

Bush used the word voucher only twice in the 38-minute speech (full text | audio), but used compassion or compassionate ten times. This wasn't just a push for school choice reform—this was an effort to get much of his domestic agenda back on the table, and much of the speech also centered on his faith-based initiative.

"Our government should not fear programs which exist because a church or a synagogue or a mosque has decided to start one," he said. "We should not discriminate against programs based upon faith in America. We should enable them to access federal money, because faith-based programs can change people's lives, and America will be better off for it."

In fact, says The Christian Science Monitor, the two items may be very closely tied together by the Supreme Court's ruling. "Christian organizations and scholars have been working to nudge the court into a new interpretation of the First Amendment that would open the door to widespread change, putting faith institutions on an equal footing with secular groups as recipients of public funds," writes Jane Lampman. "They've had small victories in recent years, but hope this serves as the 'tipping point.'"

Jim Skillen of the Center for Public Justice is one of those who sees the potential. "This decision by the court together with the faith-based initiative will, in the long run, show that the roughly 50-year period of strict separationism is an aberration from what the First Amendment is about," he tells the paper. (CPJ's Stephen Lazarus makes a similar case at the center's website.)

We have loads of news articles, analysis, and opinion pieces on the voucher decision further down the Weblog. The same goes for the Pledge of Allegiance decision.

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Prayer warriors head to D.C. in antiterror effort
You've read about warnings from the FBI, White House, and others that terrorists may strike the U.S. on July 4. Several conservative Christians are actually doing something about it—they're heading to D.C. to shield the nation's capital in prayer. The End-Time Handmaidens and Servants are one such group, and got Fox News's attention. "My mother said you're safer in the middle of the war than you are in your own backyard when you are with the will of God and prayer," says 14-year-old Heather Buss.

More articles

Voucher news:

Voucher analysis:

  • A victory for vouchers | The Supreme Court upholds school choice. But will its decision be the final word on education reform? (Time)
  • Supreme Court's voucher ruling dramatic, not surprising | As foreseeable as outcome might have been, the feeling was inescapable, among dissenters and others, that the Court crossed a new threshold (Tony Mauro, Freedom Forum)
  • Voucher ruling may boost choice movement | Battle now shifts to states (The Washington Post)
  • Future church-state battles loom | Will vouchers used at religious schools come with secular strings? (Rick Garnett, The Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  • In states, hurdles loom | Blaine amendments, which forbid using tax dollars for religious schools, are a serious threat to voucher supporters because the Supreme Court does not have the final word (The New York Times)
  • Green light, red flag | Opening the floodgates for school vouchers won't help Republicans (William Saletan, Slate.com)
  • Voucher question far from resolved | Despite a rush to judgment by some, it's too early to tell what the Supreme Court's opinion means for the future of education (The Baltimore Sun)
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  • Voucher decision divides blacks | The massive chasm among blacks on public education is yet another example of how mainstream black leaders often march to a far different tune than poor and working class blacks (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, AlterNet)
  • Coming to terms with our Constitution | Are the courts confused about religion? (Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune)
  • One small step | Big challenges still lie ahead for school-choice proponents (Thomas J. Bray, The Wall Street Journal)

Pro-voucher opinion:

  • A victory for 'ordered liberty' | The Supreme Court again appreciates religion and federalism (William J. Bennett, The Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  • A promise long deferred | Voucher verdict decides an issue as old as King George (Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Washington Post)
  • Vouchers answer new segregation in our schools | Poor children are being blocked from getting a decent education (Paul Goldman, Los Angeles Times)
  • More choices for students, and more choices for teachers | Voucher opponents have long preferred to debate the question of what's constitutional. Now it's time to consider what's best for our kids (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)
  • Being freed from our failing government schools | The high court issued what amounts to an emancipation proclamation for parents whose children have been sentenced to failing government schools for decades (Dennis Byrne, Chicago Tribune)
  • No need to fear vouchers | Our national stance on church-state separation need not be so rigid and absolute that it blocks potentially valuable school-reform experiments. But let's not oversell it, either (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune)

Anti-voucher opinion:

Pledge of Allegiance news:

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Pledge of Allegiance analysis:
  • One nation, under … who? | Flying the flag: On the eve of the Fourth, a ruling barring 'under God' from the pledge ignites a furor—and reminds us what freedom's about (Newsweek)
  • Satire: One nation, undecided | Does God float our boat or not? (Andrew Marlatt, The Washington Post)
  • Exactly what's a non-believer to do? | Non-believers should relish this opportunity to stand up for what they do believe, namely that there is no God. Heaven knows (if there is a heaven), they are unlikely to come across the God-word anywhere in the curriculum (Kenneth L. Woodward, Chicago Tribune)
  • Holding courts in contempt | To stop Bush from robbing them of power, especially in the war on terror, judges need to win public support. The pledge wasn't a good start (Stuart Taylor Jr, Newsweek)
  • Justices' words may come back to haunt them | The Supreme Court may not back "Under God" after all (Terry Eastland, The Dallas Morning News)
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  • To pledge or not to pledge … | The furor over the Pledge of Allegiance pits atheist Michael Newdow against almost everyone else in the country (Time)
  • Person of the week: Michael Newdow | America's least favorite atheist sparked a rash of patriotism this week by winning a lawsuit against the Pledge of Allegiance (Time)
  • What the recent Pledge of Allegiance decision really means | The decision itself bears little relationship to the radical manifesto that the press has reported (Tobias Barrington Wolff, Findlaw.com)
  • We're stronger than the words in any pledge | Far from weakening the United States, the court's decision that the pledge was unconstitutional because of the "under God" reference was one more reminder of just how robust, just how open, just how ready to look ourselves in the eye we are (Bob Greene, Chicago Tribune)
Pro-"Under God" opinion:
  • Price, value and the pledge | More than an atheist, Newdow seems to be a secular fundamentalist—someone intent on ridding American public life of anything he perceives as even vaguely religious (Chicago Tribune)
  • A civic catechism | American schoolchildren need instruction in our political faith (Thomas F. Woodlock, The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 1945)
  • One nation under judges | Do judges have too much power? (George F. Will, Newsweek)
  • Folly 'round the flag | The court ruling opens the door to a serious discussion of the aggressive ideological campaign against religion (John Leo, U.S. News & World Report)
  • Sermons on liberty | Faith helped build democracy here. Can it do the same in the Muslim world? (Brendan Miniter, The Wall Street Journal)
  • The war of the words | The public square, including public schools, should not be purged of all religious expression (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe)
  • Constitutional crossroads: Where 'under God' meets 'justice for all' | Pledge of Allegiance's religious phrase shouldn't have been inserted in 1954, but in 2002 it's a little late to change it. (Kenneth A. Paulson, Freedom Forum)
  • In the pledge case, timing is everything | Just as children can be expected to get an inappropriate message from the inclusion of "under God" in the pledge, they can surely be expected to get the wrong message from its removal now (Emily Buss, Chicago Tribune)
  • Toward a 'threshold' definition of 'God' | God, as I see it/him/her, should be understood as the sum total of all the forces of creativity and moral good in the universe (Marc Howard Wilson, Chicago Tribune)
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  • Religion and the Constitution | Perhaps we might step back and consider the broader implications of the fact that such a decision could have been made in the first place (Thomas Sowell, The Washington Times)
Anti-"Under God" opinion
  • The Pledge of Allegiance | Why we're not one nation "under God" (David Greenberg, Slate.com)
  • One Congress, under God | Why Republicans and Democrats responded so swiftly to the Pledge of Allegiance ruling (Eleanor Clift, Newsweek)
  • Is God so small he needs a Pledge for validation? | It wouldn't hurt for our more shameless leaders to remember the former price of idolatry while rushing to restore "under God" to a pledge most of them don't take seriously anyway (Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • God is not in the Constitution | The government cannot endorse any or all religions (Nat Hentoff, The Village Voice)
  • For God's sake, ruling on pledge is pro-inclusion | No one is denied his right to believe as he will, by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance without a phrase tacked on for propaganda reasons a half-century ago (David Brudnoy, Boston Herald)
  • One nation under … ? | What in the name of heaven does "one nation, under God" mean anyway? (Mike Kelly, The Bergen [N.J.] Record)
  • Religion divide us | Court was right to dump God in Pledge (Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Right to eliminate this prayer | The "God" of the Pledge is the deity of Jews and Christians, not Buddha, Vishnu, etc (Eastside Journal, Seattle suburbs)
  • Pledge class | The intensity of the public reaction the to ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is the best evidence that the court reached the right result (Matthew M. Hoffman, The New Republic)
  • Pledging allegiance to fundamentalism | The response to the court's decision exposed the fundamentalism that weaves through American public life, where many confuse the worship of God with patriotism (David Corn, AlterNet)

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