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Federal aid to religious schools is constitutional if it is used for non-religious instruction, asserted Mark DeWolfe Howe, professor of Law, in an interview yesterday.
"Kennedy's view that any help to parochial schools is unconstitutional and the Catholic view that they have a constitutional right to public funds for education are both extreme and unjustified," Howe said.
Even though funds for non-religious education may release money for religious instruction, such aid would not violate the constitutional injunction against separation of church and state, Howe maintained.
Strengthening Isn't Establishing
Financial aid may strengthen a religious school, but this support would not be tantamount to establishing a national religion, he said. Besides, "there are already so many ways in which we aid religious institutions today," such as churches' exemption from federal taxation and the availability of G.I. Bill scholarships to students at sectarian schools.
There is a problem of equal treatment not recognized by those opposing aid to Catholic institutions, Howe said. "It's not decent to deny funds for non-religious education to Fordham while supporting the same course of instruction at Harvard."
"It seems pretty clear that the study of science at the college level is the same in Catholic and non-Catholic institutions," he added, saying that an aid program would be "unfair" if it helped out Harvard, Columbia, and Vassar while refusing money for Boston College, Holy Cross, and Fordham.
"Any educational institution ought to think twice before becoming dependent on Federal aid," Howe cautioned, though.
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