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Telegram to Dr. E. S. James, Editor, Baptist Standard, from Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Washington, DC

October 21, 1960

Dr. E. S. JAMES,

Editor, Baptist Standard,

Dallas, Tex.:

You were most thoughtful to ask about my views on the separation of church and state and on Federal aid to public and private schools. As you know, the separation of church and state is not subject to discussion or alteration. Under our Constitution no church or religion can be supported by the U.S. Government. We maintain freedom of religion so that an American can either worship in the church of his choice or choose to go to no church at all. This complete freedom has opened the way for 103 million of our citizens to be members of 308,000 American churches. As for the use of Federal funds for aid to education, my position and my plans are based on these ideas. Traditionally, Federal funds have been provided in the field of higher education without regard to whether the aided institutions were public or private.

The burdens on higher education have increased manyfold. At the same time there is no public commitment in our country to a free system of higher education comparable to that for the public schools. I believe we should continue to aid institutions of higher education, public and private, directly. There is, however, a public responsibility for elementary and secondary education, a responsibility which under our Constitution rests within the State. Therefore, any assistance which the Federal Government wants to give in the field of elementary and secondary education should be given to the States. It will then be up to each State to decide whether Federal funds given to each State should be used for both public and private schools.

With all good wishes,

RICHARD M. NIXON

Richard Nixon, Telegram to Dr. E. S. James, Editor, Baptist Standard, from Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Washington, DC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/274085

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