Ellen KolbAugust 28, 2014Leave a comment

A good day in court for NH parents and students

When New Hampshire passed an education tax credit law in 2012, I wrote about it because so many of the people I saw standing up for life were also standing up for the right of parents to choose the best educational setting for their children. The law was challenged by several parties, among them Bill Duncan, who was a private citizen when he filed suit but is now on the New Hampshire board of education. The state Supreme Court ruled today that Mr. Duncan and his co-plaintiffs lack standing to bring suit. That means the education tax credit and the scholarship fund that benefits from it are intact for now.

Dominique Vasquez-Vanasse can breathe a sigh of relief. I wrote about her in Educational Opportunity Scholarships: the view from Concord. The many schools that are opening throughout the state can let parents know that educational opportunity scholarships are available. I wrote about them in …The View from Elm Street.

Among the plaintiffs’ claims in the case that was dismissed today: the law violates the New Hampshire constitution’s provision barring state funds from going to religious schools. That’s the Blaine Amendment, dating from the 1870s, a time of nativism. Blaine Amendments taint many state constitutions. They are relics of anti-religious bigotry that ought to be obsolete in the 21st century. Look instead at the original language of the New Hampshire constitution, which speaks of a responsibility to “cherish” education, whether public or private.

But the plaintiffs are wrong in another sense, which the court chose not to address today. They hold that the education tax credit is actually a voucher, giving state funds to private schools. Wrong. The tax credit is an incentive for private businesses that choose to donate to a nonprofit scholarship fund to benefit low- and middle-income students in grades K through 12. No public money changes hands. Governor Hassan today issued a fuming statement after the Court’s decision was announced. She clings desperately to the error that the credit is a voucher, even heading her statement with “statement on voucher tax credit ruling.”

I expect more from a literate woman.

Long hence, when the only trace of Hassan’s tenure in office will be a portrait somewhere in the State House, educational opportunity scholarships can still be helping New Hampshire’s children. Let’s hope so. The challenges aren’t over. But today is a good day.


Ellen KolbAugust 28, 2014Leave a comment

For your consideration: The Manhattan Declaration

manhattandeclarationFive years ago, a large and varied group of religious leaders agreed on a few things. Just the basics: life, marriage, liberty – plus the fact that all three are under varying degrees of attack. Result: the Manhattan Declaration. The last line ought to be enough to pique your curiosity about the rest of it.

 We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

(One of the three principal drafters of the document was the late Charles Colson, about whom I wrote briefly upon his death in 2012.)

The Manhattan Declaration web site has a link to the document itself – truly, worth a look – along with a list of the original signatories, and an invitation to add your own name. Be warned: this is a countercultural document.

Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we affirm:

  • 1. The profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human life
  • 2. Marriage as a union of one man and one woman
  • 3. Religious liberty and the inherent freedom of human beings

If you’re rushed, just take a few minutes to go to the web site and check the list of the original signers. It’s an encouraging list in its size and variety.

Half a million people have signed on to the Declaration in the past five years. I hope it continues to inspire and encourage people – and churches! – for years to come.



Ellen KolbAugust 27, 20144 Comments

Late-term abortionists hit the big time on PBS

After Tiller, the film in praise of four unapologetic providers of late-term abortion, will finally be exposed to a national audience in a few days on PBS. The network that gave you Downton Abbey will feature After Tiller as part of the series P.O.V. PBS is even willing to help you throw your own premiere party.  No kidding. (The film was recently screened in Concord as a fundraiser for the Feminist Health Center.)

That’s “PBS” as in Public Broadcasting Service, as in Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as in “viewers like you” as they say in the credits.

P.O.V. is where PBS puts the really edgy stuff – “documentaries with a point of view,” says the program’s web page. True enough. The point of view in After Tiller is that people who get paid to kill near-term preborn children ought to be celebrated. The “Tiller” of the title is late-term abortionist George Tiller who was murdered in 2009 and whose killer is serving life in prison. From the network’s promotional blurb:

It is also an examination of the desperate reasons women seek late abortions. Rather than offering solutions, After Tiller presents the complexities of these women’s difficult decisions and the compassion and ethical dilemmas of the doctors and staff who fear for their own lives as they treat their patients.

The mothers are desperate. The providers fear for their lives. And the children? They are presumably spared desperation and fear as they’re suffocated or dismembered or snipped or have poison injected into vital organs.

“Ethical dilemma,” indeed.

At any rate, help yourself. If you happen to stumble across a premiere party, I hope you’ll report on the festivities. Me, I’ll spend the evening doing something else. Prayer might be a good start.


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