After careful consideration, the UULMNJ board has decided to be a plaintiff in a church/state separation case against the Secretary of Higher Education and the State Treasurer of New Jersey. The suit was filed on Monday, June 24th. Other plaintiffs are the ACLU and a private citizen.
Our UULMNJ position is as follows:
The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey (UULMNJ) represents Unitarian Universalist congregations throughout the state of New Jersey. The organization is part of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) that represents Unitarian Universalist congregations throughout the United States. Unitarian Universalists have stood for the separation of church and state for centuries, passing six national resolutions to that effect since 1961. Specifically, Unitarian Universalism opposes all forms of direct and indirect public aid to support sectarian private schools and upholds the principle enunciated by the United States Supreme Court that all levels of government must remain respectfully neutral with regard to all religions.
The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey recognizes and respects the importance of education and training of clergy and faith leaders in all faith traditions. The use of New Jersey public education bond funds in support of faith institutions violates the very important separation of government and religion that is guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of New Jersey. When the government financially supports certain religious groups, it awards privileges to some and thereby discriminates against others, giving undue influence of one faith over another. This practice also magnifies the influence of the said privileged faith community in the democratic process and the potential influence of government involvement in that religious community. The resulting co-mingling of influence threatens the very principle of religious freedom and democratic process.
Therefore, the purpose of this suit is not to place limits on the funding of two faith institutions, but to ensure the freedom of all faiths. Specifically, the Unitarian Unversalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey is a plaintiff in this suit because the awarding of the Education Bond funds as proposed will violate our principles in the following ways:
- It is a clear violation of our protections guaranteed by New Jersey Constitution
- It threatens religious freedom of all faiths by privileging a few with government support
- It diverts designated public taxpayer funds away from programs that should be benefitting all New Jersey citizens.
Thank you for your constant and continued support as we uphold our UU Values.