NC church whose pastor says women that wear shorts invite rape has received millions in public tax dollars for school vouchers

A Union County pastor is under fire for saying from the pulpit that he would not convict a rapist if his victim were wearing shorts. And if you’re a taxpayer in North Carolina, you are funding his organization.

Bobby Leonard started Bible Tabernacle Church in Monroe, NC in 1970. This week a clip of an August 2023 sermon by Leonard was shared on Twitter by @BadSermons:

“If you dress like that and you get raped, and I’m on the jury, he’s gonna go free…I can’t help if you don’t like it, I’m right. Cause, y’know, a man’s a man. A man’s a man.”

Under the leadership of Bobby Leonard, Bible Tabernacle Church opened a private school called Tabernacle Christian School in 1972. This school receives public tax dollars via the Opportunity Scholarship school voucher program which was created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2014.

Tabernacle Christian School has received voucher dollars every school year since 2014-15 for a grand total of $3,649,766 in public taxpayer funds (that data available here).

In the past two years alone, Bobby Leonard’s organization has received nearly $2,000,000 ($902,315 in 2023-24 and $923,328 in 2022-23).

In 2023 North Carolina’s state legislature achieved a veto-proof supermajority by flipping a legislator, then tripled funding for school vouchers, the vast majority of which to go private religious schools. By 2031 more than half a billion dollars a year in public funding will be going to these organizations.

I would venture to say that the vast majority of North Carolinians would prefer NOT to have their hard-earned tax dollars subsidizing institutions that espouse hateful and violent philosophies like Bobby Leonard’s.

Unfortunately, private schools are legally permitted to discriminate against students based on factors like religious beliefs and sexual orientation, even when they’re receiving public funding.

And discriminate they do.

This voucher-receiving school in Fayetteville, NC specifically bans “Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, non Messianic Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists” and refers to homosexuality as “deviate [sic] and perverted.”

Freedom Christian, also in Fayetteville, only takes students whose parents have a “vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ” and who demonstrate “a desire to learn.” It’s unclear whether Freedom Christian uses a rubric to objectively measure the vibrance of that relationship.

If the notion of your money ending up in the pockets of Bobby Leonard or any of these other institutions that discriminates against children makes your skin crawl, please be ready to channel that energy into electing pro-public education candidates in 2024.

That’s our only way out of this nightmare.