Isn’t it long past time that New Hampshire ended blatant discrimination against Catholics in our state?
After the great Irish potato famine in the mid-1800’s, America experienced a large wave of Irish immigrants, many of whom were Catholics. Some politicians wanted to prevent any public support of Catholic institutions and thus attempted, unsuccessfully, to amend the US Constitution to prohibit any public money being sent to Catholic institutions, even though they were not specifically named.
But everyone knew precisely which group was being targeted for discrimination.
Although not all Catholics are Irish, most Irish are Catholics. And this writer is old enough to remember his father pontificating that John Kennedy could never be elected president of the US because he was Catholic. And this writer also remembers seeing in antique shops old help wanted signs reading “Help Wanted – No Irish Need Apply” that appeared to be in common use many years ago.
Well, times have certainly changed — or have they?
After the federal effort failed in 1875, many states adopted so-called “Blaine amendments” to accomplish the same insidious purpose, named after the US Congressman who had proposed the failed federal constitutional amendment.
Two years later, in 1877, New Hampshire voters added the following language to Article 83 of Part Second of its state constitution which still exists today: “Provided, nevertheless, that no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination.”
This is, unfortunately, New Hampshire’s version of the Blaine amendment, and is used by many, whether or not openly anti-Catholic, to continue the insidious discrimination against Catholics and their institutions, which often do a better job of educating our children in many cases than do our public schools for which the taxpayers pay so much.
All New Hampshire voters, of any or no religion, should work together to eliminate this ugly blot on our state and many of its citizens by amending our state constitution to eliminate this clearly discriminatory language at the earliest possible time.
The NH ACLU was called out on this specific issue in December of 2017 and asked for its support of repealing this abhorrent provision of our state constitution. They have never responded.