The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Paul Fidalgo, 202-299-1091 / paul(at)

Corporal Punishment Ban Praised by Secular Coalition for America

Bill Takes Important Steps Toward Ending Religious Privilege, Protecting Children


Today, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced the Ending
Corporal Punishment in Schools Act
, a bill that would prohibit
corporal punishment in all public and private schools that receive tax
dollars. Currently, only two states ban corporal punishment in both
private and public schools, though 30 states ban the practice in public

The Secular Coalition for America, the national advocacy
organization for Secular Americans, including atheists, agnostics,
humanists and other freethinkers, heralded the bill's introduction as a
positive step toward ending religious privilege in policy affecting
and harming children.

Many religious organizations and leaders--such as James Dobson of
Focus on the Family who has made a handsome living in part by selling
books on using corporal punishment on children--believe that the Bible
requires them to employ corporal punishment to discipline children. The
Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act mandates that students in
private schools that receive any federal funds are treated the same as
their public school counterparts and protected from this form of
state-sanctioned violence against children.

Exempting religious private schools from a ban on corporal
punishment would mean that the government is authorizing the use of
physical violence as a form of punishment for a specific set of
children. The Secular Coalition for America believes that children in
religious schools are no less human - and no less deserving of safety
from physical harm -- than any other children.

"There are no
'special rights' to harm children. If corporal punishment is an
improper use of our tax dollars in public schools, it is improper
within religious schools as well," said Sean Faircloth, Secular
Coalition Executive Director. "The government's interest in protecting
children from the dangers associated with corporal punishment cannot be
met if religious private schools are exempted from the law."

"Some states also exempt federally funded religious child care
centers from minimum health and safety requirements by which all
secular child care entities must abide," added Faircloth. "Common sense
and basic compassion require that the Congress pass the Ending
Corporal Punishment in Schools Act, and end all religious privilege
that puts any child in danger."

The Secular Coalition for America represents nine national coalition partners who share the view that a secular government offers the best guarantee for freedom of thought and belief for all Americans. It works to protect the civil rights of nontheistic Americans, and lobbies the U.S. Congress on issues of concern to its constituents. The Coalition's website