David Cortman

As a federal court recently declared, “Tolerance is a two-way street.”

And this is a lesson the Atlanta-based Southern Education Fund needs to learn after its recent call for private, Christian schools in Georgia to be kicked-out of participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship program.

In late January, SEF released a briefing paper accusing these schools of maintaining “draconian anti-gay policies and practices.” They also claimed that “Georgia’s tax dollars” are being used to fund schools that “demonize students in the name of religion.”

For starters, SEF blatantly misstates the source of funding. The funding does not come from any state funds or from anyone’s tax dollars. It comes from the private donations of individuals and corporations.

As the Supreme Court found in its 2011 ACSTO v. Winn decision: “Like contributions that lead to charitable tax deductions, contributions yielding [scholarship program] tax credits are not owed to the State and, in fact, pass directly from taxpayers to private organizations.” The high court explained that a “contrary position assumes that income should be treated as if it were government property even if it has not come into the tax collector’s hands.”

So, with that fallacy put to rest, what are these “draconian anti-gay policies” that SEF believes should disqualify these schools from being eligible for scholarships?

According to SEF, one example is a policy that prohibits “violation of biblically-based sexual morality on campus or off campus; such as described in the following verses (not limited to): Romans 1:26, 27; I Corinthians 6:18.”

SEF has apparently discovered that Christian schools actually expect their staff and students to adhere to biblical teachings on sexual morality, including those that prohibit adultery, pre-marital sex, and yes, homosexual conduct.

Yet they have made this discovery only to announce their intolerance of the school’s faithfulness to the Bible. From all impressions, it seems SEF is unable to tolerate religious schools that hold a different worldview than its own.

Therefore, SEF calls for the complete exclusion of religious schools from the scholarship program unless those schools throw out the Bible, water down their faith, and agree to embrace SEF’s homosexual agenda.

In other words, tolerance for thee, but not for me.

David Cortman

David Cortman serves as senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund at its Atlanta Regional Service Center in Georgia, where he heads litigation efforts to defend and reclaim the First Amendment rights of public school students across the nation. Cortman joined ADF in 2005, and is admitted to the bar in Georgia, Florida, and the District of Columbia. He has practiced law since 1996 and graduated magna cum laude from the Regent University School of Law, where he earned his J.D.