Marco Rubio denounces Wells Fargo for ending school voucher funding over Christian schools’ views

A banking customer walks into a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Altos, California, on January 19, 2010.
A banking customer walks into a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Altos, California, on January 19, 2010. | AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has denounced Wells Fargo for withdrawing donations from a state voucher program because some of the schools students are choosing to attend oppose homosexuality and transgender ideology.

Last month, Wells Fargo, along with Fifth Third Bank, withdrew donations to the Step Up for Students program after The Orlando Sentinel reported that some of the schools involved in the program have conservative policies on LGBT issues.

“We have reviewed this matter carefully and have decided to no longer support Step Up for Students,” said Wells Fargo in a statement, The Hill reported.

“All of us at Wells Fargo highly value diversity and inclusion, and we oppose discrimination of any kind.”

In an interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins earlier this week, Rubio said Wells Fargo and others withdrawing support from the scholarship fund were only hurting the less fortunate with their decisions.

Rubio explained that the scholarship program allows parents to choose which school to send their children to and many of the options are schools without official biblical stances on LGBT issues.

“Doing what they did is not going to hurt those schools. Those schools are not going to abandon the Bible over a government program. They existed before this program,” said Rubio.

“Who they are hurting are low-income kids, because they are not going to be able to go to school and probably not go to a school that doesn’t have those policies, by the way.”

Rubio said he believed that this was an example of “corporate America” trying to “buy themselves into the good graces of broader society” or to cover for major internal problems, such as Well Fargo’s recent series of scandals.

Wells Fargo and Fifth Third decided to cut ties with the program following an article by Leslie Postal and Annie Martin of The Orlando Sentinel titled “Anti-LGBT Florida schools getting school vouchers.”

According to The Orlando Sentinel, over 20,800 students received state tuition scholarships that went to 156 private schools “where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome.”

These included holding official stances against homosexuality and transgenderism, having policies that prohibited students from engaging in homosexual conduct among other sexual activities, and refusal to admit openly LGBT students, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

“Florida’s scholarship programs, often referred to as school vouchers, sent more than $129 million to these religious institutions,” they reported.

“That means at least 14 percent of Florida’s nearly 147,000 scholarship students last year attended private schools where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome.”

Last month, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which centers on whether religious schools can qualify for a state tax credit on scholarships.

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