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The government schools (public schools) do indeed indoctrinate the students in a religion. It is called "secular humanism."
What is interesting to realize, is that the same people who believed in the neo-liberal co-opting of voucher systems and "school choice" into massive public funding of charter schools, are the same ones bemoaning the cost of private, religious schools which of course causes their gradual dissolution.
"Free" charter schools, run by corporate taskmasters and focused above all on maximized utility of the student for the marketplace, instead of above all on God, have resulted in many Dioceses closing schools and re-opening them as charters.... with the requirement of course, NOT to "preach"...
I teach in a "free" charter school. We're the only public, classical liberal arts education focused school in Texas. You're much more likely to get little more than a public school education with a religion class tossed in at your local parish school around here.
My state is one of 37 states that have a (anti-Catholic) Blaine amendment in its constitution that prohibits public funds from going to parochial schools, so even if we had vouchers they could not be used by parents to send their children to a faith-based school. As a Catholic whose three sons attended parochial schools it still irks me to no end that I had to pay taxes to support public schools that my sons did not attend. Until such amendments are dropped from state constitutions this is not going to change. It's too bad TCT does not allow links because there was a very thought-provoking essay in January on how Blaine Amendments came about: "Old Religious Hatred Die Hard." I imagine anyone interested in reading it could do a search for it.
JGradGus-- "school choice" advocates got their massive public funding of charter schools a while ago, which of course has cause the gradual dissolution of religious schools...
"Free" but taxpayer-costly charter schools offering a "better quality" education, are generally run by corporate taskmasters who focus above all on maximized utility of the student for the marketplace, instead of above all on their serving of God. This has also resulted in many Dioceses closing schools and re-opening them as charters.... with the requirement of course, NOT to "preach"!
To address the AU's point about separation, do they advocate that every person of religion establish themselves as a religion so as to not be discriminated against in this scheme of paying double (school tax AND private school tuition) to educate their children? What the AU is proposing is discrimination by penalizing those who go to the free market of education because the AU hopes to eliminate that free market. Same goes for state universities. We pay for so-called public universities (and they charge tuition - which they should not - on top of all the taxpayer largesse they receive) and then for tuition if we send a child to a private university.
This system is a mess, and I hope someone takes it on.
You are right to note that the state should not push any religion whether through schools or otherwise. It should not be supposed, though, that a school system that endeavors to remain apart from and neutral to religion thereby inculcates hostility to religion.
This may get tricky, I suppose, if a religion adopts or promotes ideas that are at odds with part of a school's curriculum. This sort of thing has come up over the years as science advances ideas conflicting with religious teachings.
We do not force people to attend public schools, so those who disagree sufficiently with what they teach may do their own thing. Should we allow them to withdraw their tax support for public schools as well?
What if we adopted such an approach with all sorts of other government programs? Can I withdraw that portion of my taxes to avoid funding a war I oppose or a mass transit system I never use or a farm subsidy program supporting animal cruelty I consider immoral?
Dr. Beckwith presents some interesting and solid arguments to fight yet another government overreach.
It pains me that, as the greatest country on God's earth we have become reliant on the courts to decide these moral and ethical arguments that should have never been the subject of debate in the first place.
Am I the only one that feels we are at war with ourselves?
After 26 years of tuition for our four children in Catholic schools and colleges, I don't ask for taxpayers to pay for my children. I only ask that MY taxes pay for MY children's education in Catholic schools. My taxes instead go to subsidize bankers and lawyers and doctors and engineers and dentists and stockbrokers and entrepreneurs who make much more money than I do, but recieve my taxes as a subsidy. So let them keep their taxes, but let me and my famliy spend my taxes. Nothing could be more fair.
The concept here is the same: I pay to send my children to a private (not necessarily a religious one) school but I must still pay taxes to support the public schools which I consider indoctrination centers for a secular religion that I reject.
This is a reply to Doug Indeap.
God has a tremendous sense of humor. He juxtaposes before our very eyes aspects of our own idiocies as His way of saying, "LOOKIE!! LOOKIE!!", and He hopes we'll look, and the saints are all praying that we'll look, but we have our eyes shut tight. A month ago, it was the juxtaposing of the praise for Bruce Jenner being a woman (he's not, BTW) with the silence/condemnation of Racel Dolezal being black (she's not, BTW). More recently, it is the silence over the Planned Parenthood videos juxtaposed with the outrage and grief over the killing of a pet lion. Dr. Beckwith, thank you for pointing out another farcical contradiction that we refuse to see -- and thank you for the Chesterton quote. Perfect!
Okay, I've got a joke for y'all:
Question: How many Old Testament prophets does it take to change an oil lamp?
Answer: Just one -- but the oil lamp has got to want to change....
(That was the joke God told the people of Sodom and Gomorrah right before He smote them. I wish I could tell you that "They died laughing" -- but, in fact, they just didn't get it....)
My friend Bill was a stand-up comic in the Boston clubs starting back in the 1940's He had been around so long he claimed he was the original cruise comedian on Noah's Ark. When asked if it was a friendly audience, he'd shake his head and say: "They were all animals."
Government education as well as, increasingly , government medicine has become a moral hazard as well as a behemoth because it relies on third party payment. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Principled Catholics who can, ought to withdraw from both by homeschooling and health sharing ministry.
But you would want "principled Catholics" to continue to support your children's education through taxation and pay for your contraception devices, even though they violate personal conscience and religious belief? How just is that?
It seems of late that "the state" is exercising an animus against "the free exercise" of religion by its citizens, and the state ensures that its "state schools" promote that animus. Paying taxes to support the state's schools now seems to cease to be a public good, and appears to be a "veiled" form of tyranny.
Here in Scotland, although most of them had long ago been redeemed, some payments for teind and stipend continued to be payable until 2004.
Personally, I could never see that this was an injustice to those proprietors, like me, that were not members of the established church. Whatever the origin of the thing (and it is very complicated), anyone buying land subject to teind or stipend adjusted his price accordingly; anyone who inherited it acquired the same rights as his ancestor enjoyed but subject to the same burdens. In this respect, such payments were no different to feu-duty or any other ground-annual with which land happened to be encumbered.
Schools are not churches. Paying taxes to support a state established church is one thing. Paying taxes to support public education is quite another. They should not be regarded as equivalents.
One of the primary functions of a church is to "teach". Our public educational systems have agendas for teaching which are defined by the curriculum which they support. In the fifth grade public school I attended, the 10 commandments (which were bolted in) were taken off the walls of our classroom. The text books I learned from were largely mute to the Christian experience and if they did teach historically about it, it was in a shallow and even somewhat dishonest way because the information was gutted from elementary forms of spiritual insight. In my opinion, Christians should be very concerned about supporting state education - especially since the advent of common core standards. Two years ago, Kindergarten students in Urbana, Illinois public schools were required to read a book about two "male" penguins who have a "son". This is an example of the school teaching morality. A morality that would have been unheard of 10 years ago. A morality contrary to the one I want to impart to my children. A morality the school shouldn't be taking sides on at all and using public dollars to impart.
If or if not children are being taught on Sunday with their parents or relatives in church, many are certainly being taught at their local public school five days a week and for about 180 days of the year.
They are only equivalent when it comes to paying for both if you send your child to a private school. This is not so much about religion as it is about the free market in education (or medicine or computers or whatever). The state wants to always dominate.
There are many such "markets" served by the state. Are each of us to be allowed to opt out of paying taxes for this and that on the grounds that we'll resort to the market ourselves? Why, for instance, should I pay taxes to support mass transit when I never use it and always drive my car instead? Why should I pay taxes to support police when I carry a gun and stand ready to protect myself and my own? Why should I pay taxes to fund a war I oppose? Etc., etc.
On the contrary: The state schools most certainly do function as churches, in that they aggressively promote a vision of the world, and of man's place in it, and of the meaning of human existence, that is at best promoted without regard to the wishes of the parents, and at worst promoted against their wishes. It is a "religion" with its very dubious saints -- Malcolm X, Margaret Sanger; its dubious celebrations; its moral directives, shallow and foolish though they are (recycle, use condoms). Moreover, the schools do not actually perform the tasks for which they were established in the first place. They have abandoned the systematic study of language -- try asking a college Honors student what a participle is. They have abandoned the systematic study of history, preferring instead to have teachers bounce around from "unit" to "unit" devoted to preferred eddies of the historical current. They have abandoned geography altogether. They have abandoned the study of western literature, particularly of English literature; it is Shakespeare, detached from his time and culture, along with the usual political authors from the 20th century, with crude young-adult dystopias mixed in.
We have, in effect, a vast and hugely expensive "established church," unconstrained by local oversight, much less by the severe and sobering word of God.
Public schools cannot push a religion, of course, as that would run afoul of the First Amendment. You can, I suppose, employ rhetoric to expand the concept of "religion" to encompass whatever you want, and then gripe about schools intruding into that sphere. Don't expect, though, that rhetorical device to lead others simply to regard a school as a church.
So my 9-year-old son being taught that there are two equally viable sexualities for his personal consideration, gay or straight, is something that is 1. more important than his reading and writing skills, 2. in society's overarching interest even if it negates his family's religion, and 3. not akin to political ideology in itself?
Isn't politicking forbidden, within public institutions?
As there are lots of religions and those religions profess lots of ideas on lots of subjects, it is hardly surprising that a school endeavoring to teach science or history or philosophy or literature or endeavoring even merely to comply with laws about discrimination or the like will do things or discuss things that conflict with one or another idea professed by a religion. Given the range of ideas professed by religions, that is all but inevitable. That circumstance hardly renders the school a church.
A school that tries to run away from everything conflicting with the teachings of every religion will find precious little left to teach.
Well, there is only one Truth as described in the nature set forth by God, and that Truth is incidentally contained in all of His religions, other than the worship of materialism which is not a religion. That Truth says that whatever the laws of man regarding non-discrimination to homosexuals, its practice is a sacrifice of intended life e.g. humanity's future.
Precisely. And now the public schools are going to cram down gender ideology.
People have been taught (in their public schools, no less) the lie that the State is not its own Church, is not a religion, therefore the State's laws do not impose a religion even while they do impose a vision of the public good.
I return from time to time to the 2010 essay by Micah Watson at The Public Discourse, in which he argues that the State cannot help but legislate morality. Briefly, all laws are moral; the law teaches; therefore the law teaches morality.
Prof. Beckwith didn't say schools were churches. He said that at one time some churches were supported by taxes confiscated from people who did not use those churches, and that today some schools are supported by taxes confiscated from people who do not use those schools. Focus on the actual comparison rather than your misrepresentation of it.
It should be added, too, that the taxes were quite modest, and that in Connecticut (for one), if you were an Episcopalian or a Methodist, you could re-direct your tax contribution to your own church instead of to the established Congregational church. The same offer was made to the Baptists too, though they fought instead for disestablishment. It seems that Connecticut's example could be readily applied to parents who send their children to religious schools; it already is applied, via student loans, to people who attend religious colleges. The point is that, since education is a public good, it is unfair to ask parents to support that public good twice over, merely because they wish to send their children to a religious school. A people are justified in promoting the common good, even if it comes by way of men and women of God (horrors!), as they are justified in discouraging the corruption of public morals, even if (dear me, who'd have thought it?) the corruption comes by way of pornographers, fornicators, adulterers, and sodomites.