DARE to keep Houston off DARE:

No Public Drug Program
In Religious Schools

In Harris County, Texas, public officials have warned deputies that they may not operate several drug and gang prevention courses in private religious schools since it violates the Constitutions of both the United States and the State of Texas. That decision was made by the county attorney's office after a local Constable asked permission for his deputies to include the church schools in some of the popular nationwide educational programs, including DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance and Training) and GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training). According to the Houston Chronicle, one of the schools proposed for inclusion in the program was the Northland Christian School.

It is not yet known whether the County Commissioners will follow the ruling from the attorney's office.

The Chronicle noted that the State Constitution is more rigorous in its concept of state-church separation. The 10-page opinion from the County Attorney observed that this fact stemmed from the Texas history, when citizens resisted the official religion of Catholicism while they were part of Mexico. Following independence, notes the Chronicle, "they ensured that their constitution would protect them from such requirements in the future."

The Harris County opinion distinguished between the use of public aid for individual students, rather than the school itself. The DARE program requires that public law enforcement officers be considered as faculty members, and that the contents of the course be part of other programs administered by the school. "The risk of 'religious entanglement' is high," noted the Houston paper.