MARCH 14, 1950
EN ROUTE TO LOUISVILLE, Ky., Monday—I can't neglect to tell you about the session in which I participated last Friday in New Haven, Conn. It was the Public Affairs Conference, which is run by the Yale Law Student Association. These conferences have been conducted for the past few years and I think they are developing in a most interesting way. The discussions are certainly lively and the questions come easily from the audience.
At our meeting Rev. Dr. Edwin McNeill Poteat, president, Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State and myself were on one side and Dr. George Schuster, president of Hunter College, and the Rev. John Courtney Murray, of Woodstock, Md., took the opposing side. The two questions we discussed were: "Federal Aid to Education" and "Religious Teaching in Our Schools."
As I understand Father Murray's position, he feels that education cannot be free unless all education—but particularly parochial education—is supported by the government in the same way that public schools are supported. He thinks we should work it out in an American way and not follow the pattern of any other country. But the results, in order to preserve both freedom of religion and equal opportunity for all children in education, should be a subsidization of all types of education.
Dr. Schuster has worked out an interesting method of financing which he hopes will overcome the objections directed at contributions by government to any schools other than public schools. His suggestion is that all people not using public schools should be given tax exemption for the money paid for other types of education for their children.
This seems to me simply an alternative method, and I am not sure it would be practical. The parents of many children going to parochial schools may make a financial donation in church on Sunday, but I doubt if they really contribute a sufficient amount actually to pay for their child's schooling in the parochial schools.
The amounts they contribute, I fear, is very small indeed in many cases and would mean little as an exemption for them. The parochial schools still would not be getting from their people enough to run their schools which is their trouble at the present time and the reason they desire government funds to help with some of their expenses.
If they do not desire government funds for the actual running of the schools, they desire government funds at least to cover other expenses so that their burden on the whole will be lightened.
I cannot say that I felt much clearer on the whole problem because of our discussion. I only hope it furnished some clarified thinking to the audience.
On Saturday I went to Philadelphia to speak at a similar evening meeting. On Sunday I was in New York City for my television-radio program.