Vouchers And Christian Nationalism

When historians look back at this time–at Trumpism, the insurrection at the Capitol, America’s extreme polarization, and campaigns of continuing disinformation–they will undoubtedly identify a number of contributors to our civic unrest. (I want to point out here that I am being optimistic–I am assuming humanity survives and produces historians…)

One of those contributors will be the state-level voucher programs sending dollars that should support public education to private, overwhelmingly religious schools. As an article in Huffpost reported,

Christian textbooks used in thousands of schools around the country teach that President Barack Obama helped spur destructive Black Lives Matter protests, that the Democrats’ choice of 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton reflected their focus on identity politics, and that President Donald Trump is the “fighter” Republicans want, a HuffPost analysis has found.

The analysis focused on three textbooks from two major publishers of Christian educational materials ― Abeka and BJU Press–used in a majority of Christian schools, and examined  their coverage of American history and politics. All three delivered what you might call a “curated”(i.e. skewed) history, and taught that contemporary America is experiencing “an urgent moral decline that can only be fixed by conservative Christian policies.”

Even more troubling, the analysis found that language used in the books “overlaps with the rhetoric of Christian nationalism, often with overtones of nativism, militarism and racism as well.” One scholar was quoted as saying that, as voucher programs have moved more children into these schools, Christian Nationalism has become more mainstream.

Scholars say textbooks like these, with their alternate versions of history and emphasis on Christian national identity, represent one small part of the conditions that lead to events like last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, an episode that was permeated with the symbols of Christian nationalism. Before storming the Capitol, some groups prayed in the name of Jesus and asked for divine protection. They flew Christian and “Jesus 2020” flags and pointed to Trump’s presidency as the will of God. The linkage between Christian beliefs and the violent attack on Congress has since pushed evangelical leaders to confront their own relationship with Trump and their support for the rioters.

Salon published an interview with one of the researchers who conducted the analysis. She found that over 7,000 schools around the country currently participate in a voucher or a tax credit program, and that three quarters of the participating schools were religious. (In Indiana, some 95% of voucher recipients attend a religious school.) At least 30 percent of those schools were using a curriculum provided by Abeka, Accelerated Christian Education, or Bob Jones.

Her description of the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum was hair-raising. You really need to click through and read it. 

She also referenced Indiana, which–as we Hoosiers know– has one of the “more comprehensive voucher programs,” and the millions of taxpayer dollars going to schools that use one of these curricula. She also noted that, In the vast majority of states that have voucher programs, “there is zero oversight over what schools and voucher and tax credit programs are teaching. Quite literally zero.”

These findings are entirely consistent with my own research. When a colleague and I looked to see whether voucher schools are under any state-imposed obligations to teach civics, we found a total lack of any such requirements–and virtually no oversight at all. (A study of religious voucher schools in Louisiana found science classes teaching creationism, along with health and safety violations.)

It’s bad enough that too many legislators–and parents–consider education to be just another consumer good–giving children skills they will need to participate in the marketplace. But even if that were the case, study after study has shown that these programs have failed to improve academic performance.

Private schools, including private religious schools, have a First Amendment right to teach whatever they want–when they are being funded with private dollars. When they are being supported with public dollars taken from public schools, however, as they are in states with voucher programs, the calculus should be different. This is especially the case because public education is also supposed to be a mechanism for instilling Constitutional and democratic values–public schools, as Benjamin Barber memorably wrote, are “constitutive of a public.”

There are fewer and fewer “street corners” in today’s fragmented world, fewer places where people from different cultures, races, religions and perspectives come together in any meaningful way. Economically-separated residential patterns make that ideal hard enough to achieve through public schools–but using tax dollars to create another set of “bubbles” through which rightwing extremists can deny science and transmit a Christian Nationalist worldview is both a betrayal of our public obligations and yet another reason for America’s declining civic cohesion.


  1. I read your column daily, however I have only commented two or three times in the past five years.
    All of your postings are informative and meaningful. This column is in my opinion one of the most important and sadly also one of the most frightening ones that you have written. I sincerely hope it is shared over and over again so that it can motivate Americans to fight for a return to a public education system that teaches history in an unbiased manner and that also returns America to its ranking as one of the world’s most highly rated public school systems.

  2. Unfortunately, Indiana’s tame State Supreme Court agreed with the yahoos in the legislature, who rationalized violating the section in the Constitution which prohibited the state spending money on religious education, by saying the money was going to the parents, who had the right to spend it any way they liked.

    And regarding Creationism being taught in Louisiana, every so often one of Indiana’s yahoos introduces a bill allowing it in Indiana’s public schools. Eventually, they will just do away with the public school system, so the religious fanatics can teach whatever they want. And that will also do away with the teachers’ union, another objective of the legislators.

  3. Teachers are so important in the lives of children! Sometimes in sad situations they are the only source for kids to look up to. It is our duty to make certain public schools have curriculum that is inclusive, not divisive. Information that is objective, not slanted. And teachers who rise up to the challenge by not impressing their own political opinion into the lessons they are teaching our children. Those who do not like rationality, reason, objectivity and diversity can enroll their kids in church-ran schools taught by people who believe the same way they do. Our tax money should not be used to spread right-wing political dogma.

  4. I believe the voucher system as implemented in Indiana is a clear violation of separation of Church and State.

  5. Back in the 60s and 70s the National Education Association was adamantly opposed to vouchers. Too bad their warnings were not heeded. We must fight to protect our public schools. Without public schools, democracy will be no more.

  6. Voucher systems are a violation of the Constitution of the United States of America (separation of church and state) and the Constitution of the State of Indiana (banned use of Indiana’s public education tax dollars given to religious schools). Read them and see the blatant violation by Republicans who view their personal views as “God’s word” being above democracy, Rule of Law and both Constitutions.

    Voucher students in Indiana, no matter their religion, are required to participate in the school’s religious classes. BRAINWASHING! They are not required to participate in prayers or Masses. And the voucher students who leave private/religious schools for any reason; those tax dollars stay in that religious school the remainder of the school year.

  7. Listen again to Amanda Gorman’s poem at yesterday’s inauguration.

    Religion being used as a political club is just furthering the BIG LIE.

  8. So, Thank to vouchers we are seeing our own version of the infamous Wahhabi Madrassas . I’m sure the trump cult won’t notice the similarity since trump or whomever takes over the leadership of today’s fascist portion of the GOP won’t mention it but it should be clear to the rest of us.

  9. So, a real excellent article today Sheila!

    The public schools are hemorrhaging money to these religious private schools!

    It’s to the tune of $15,000 per student leaving the public school system, that the school district has to give up to that particular school via voucher. 1000 students at $15,000 apiece, $15 million! Can you imagine a medium-sized town losing $15 million from the local district public school system?

    What could a public school system and a medium-sized town do with $15 million? And, how does the district try to make up the money lost? They increase the tax levies on property owners! So the property owners pay for the dismantling of the public school system by paying for these vouchers, not so indirectly by the way!

    Many of these parents do not own property and are sending their kids to private and religious schools, they’re receiving a tax voucher, and really not having to pay for it. Like I said, the district is handing a $15,000 voucher over to these parents. Now, if they want to send their kid to these type of schools, let’s call them a Madrasa, in honor of the Muslim school architecture for radicalizing children! These parents should have to pay the fee out of their own pockets and not tap into the public funds for it.

    This is putting an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer while supplying a fanatical type of education to those students.

    This is dead set against separation of church and state, it should not be! It needs to be stopped and quickly! These kids and their spongelike minds are being radicalized right under everyone’s noses just as is happened in the Middle East with Al Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL! and, there needs to be a standardized control on textbooks!

    The British schools don’t teach actual World War II history, or World War I for that matter, they eliminate the Americans from their history for the most part. In their school history books, Americans are basically nowhere to be found, in other words the Brits did it all on their own! There were no convoys to Britain that so many of the merchant seamen died in. The Marshall plan to rebuild Britain and Europe is not mentioned in those school books either! So, I think the new Secretary of Education needs to step up, Congress needs to eliminate this voucher program or maybe, Biden should just write an executive order dictating it!

    Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump did a huge amount of damage, and POTUS Biden needs to have his Secretary of Education working on this or just write an executive order eliminating it altogether!

  10. I found this article interesting, needless to say, we’ve been having this discussion for a very long time and we’ve been on the losing end of it!

    The White House Conference on Children and Youth, held in December, 1950, composed of 4,620 delegates who represented three-fourths of the total population of the United States, by a two-to-one vote adopted the following resolution: “Recognizing knowledge and understanding of religious and ethical concepts as essential to the development of spiritual values and that nothing is of greater importance to the moral and spiritual health of our nation than the works of religious education in our homes and families and in our institutions of organized religion, we nevertheless strongly affirm the principle of separation of church and state which has been the keystone of our American democracy and declare ourselves unalterably opposed to the use of public schools directly or indirectly for religious educational purposes.”

    Commenting on the foregoing a prominent United States educator, Mrs. Agnes E. Meyer, had the following to say in the Atlantic Monthly, March, 1952: “The child is robbed of its full development if it receives no guidance in early years toward recognition of the religious aspects of life. But this teaching, to be effective, must originate in the home and family life with the cooperation of the Churches. . . . Having failed in their primary mission to strengthen the family and reach the children during their most impressionable and formative years, the Churches now seek a short cut, through the released time program, which will cure overnight the moral defects of children who have been neglected throughout infancy.”

  11. We’ll soon see how the new Sec.Ed. handles this situation. This defilement of our Constitution by Betsy DeVos will live in infamy for its destructive impact on separation of church and state.

    I wonder if Betsy has Amy Barrett on speed dial.

  12. The perpetuation of ignorance does not bode well for the long term health of our democracy. Flawed as it is, it’s still better than most.

  13. As reprehensible as the teaching of white Christian political ideas to Christian/Catholic school children is; there are no laws against this practice. Truth be told, there never was. What laws there are regarding the matter may be found in the Constitution and scattered here and there among the rulings made on the issues of the separation of Church and State.
    What is now needed on the part of liberals and supporters of the public school system is the “long view” and a willingness to devote time and money to a plan that will bring about an end to the government support of religious education. For guidance, one can look to the efforts of the NAACP and their long range plan to end segregation.

  14. Theresa – thanks for the sanity – thinking about solutions instead of crying over the problem.

  15. I had moved to Tennessee in 1968 to find that schools were in the process of being integrated via busing programs. The community response was quick and consistent. Faith based school sprung up overnight. Parents opposed to public school busing for integration started busing for the right reason. That reason was to send their children to a school with children of the same race.

    I agree with you that these private-religious schools have undereducated or miseducated many who now make political choices without a solid understanding of our nation’s history. The result is partially responsible for our divided nation. Clearly school vouchers violate our need to keep church and state separated.

  16. Yes, I believe the vouchers violate the separation of church and state. Since churches can’t encourage their members to vote for one candidate or another in order to avoid taxation, we should not be funding Christian schools teaching Christian nationalism with tax payer dollars. And maybe if the state stopped funding these vouchers, we could have more classes in art and music in our public schools.

    Because I was in school choirs and took piano lessions, I eventually taught myself how to play guitar and started writing songs!! The choirs and music classes I was in really helped me find good ways to cope with stress and express feelings in a healthy way.

  17. I have closely followed and openly opposed most of the efforts to privatize K-12 education in Indiana, which really took hold in 2011 when under Mitch Daniels and his henchman Tony Bennett, as the Superintendent of Education, transferred the responsibility for funding school operations (80% of which is paying teacher and administrator salaries and benefits) to the state government. leaving localities to pay for building construction and maintenance and transportation.

    Then over the next 10 years they either cut or restricted the growth to such small amounts that public education funding was not kept on par with public education. Instead, these funds and more were spent on the creation of charter schools and school choice scholarships, also known as vouchers. For years, most school districts in the state were not opposed to these changes because they primarily affected only the larger urban school systems and the granddaddy, Indianapolis public schools. But once it became clear to ALL school districts that they were being screwed, they and local elected leaders started to object and put up a fight.

    The answer?  The statehouse magnanimously granted local school districts the authority to put referendums on the election ballot to ask voters to increase the local property tax rate by an amount that would generate additional local revenues to pay for, you guessed it, teacher salaries and other school operating expenses, in addition to buildings and transportation. Many of these referendums failed in the early days but have more recently become more successful – at least 50% have passed. But in those districts that have adopted them, homeowners and businesses are now paying an outsized share of the financial burden of public education. Of course, this was the BIG GRIPE that led us down the path years ago to install property tax caps in Indiana. So we’ve come full circle. 

    I won’t bore you with more, but please know that TWO bills have been introduced in the Indiana General Assembly to further privatize public education: HB1005 and HB1008, the first of which expands the voucher program in two ways: First it raises the maximum household income for which a family can claim vouchers to $145,000/yr, or the 84th percentile in Indiana. Second, it eliminates the step-down value of a voucher based on household income. In other words, if you qualify, then your child gets a voucher worth 90% of whatever the state tuition per student happens to be in a given year. The bill ALSO introduces a new gimmick called Education Spending Accounts, which allows parents to put tax-exempt deposits and 
    I fully expect that these bills will pass both houses due to the GOP supermajorities and a supporting Governor but  mostly because SO MANY HOOSIER SIMPLY DO NOT CARE what happens to our public schools and, in fact, support their demise – referring to them as “government schools”.

    If you are not among them I suggest you contact your state senator and representative and let them know that ENOUGH is ENOUGH! It’s time to stop bleeding our system of authentic public schools to death in order to fund THREE public school systems (authentic, charters including virtual charters, and vouchers).

    For a concise education on the school privatization movement in general I recommend this excellent short book:  A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door- The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School, by Jack SchneiderJennifer Berkshire 


    To get a better understanding of how this affects Indiana’ schools please follow Mr. Steve Hinnefeld’s excellent blog School Matters: K-12 Education In Indiana. He has an outstanding essay on the current legislation pending in the General Assembly.


    A footnote: If you were aware of the Previous Occupant’s white nationalist propaganda program called “The 1776 Project”, intended to be a counterweight to the New York Time’s “1619 Project”, you should not be surprised to know that the people behind the execrable booklet published by the former was written by the same people that write the books for the three main publishers history books used in most private Christian schools. Fortunately for all of use but especially the children, President Biden (doesn’t that sound SO sweet!?) eliminated the 1776 Project with the stroke of a pen yesterday and took the noxious booklet down from The White House website.


  18. We all must recognize that Pence returned to Indiana yesterday and he will very likely return to his anti-Constitutional activities of enabling religion to be spread via public tax dollars. He chose Devos as the Secretary of Education. He built strong ties with her during Mitch Daniels’ time as Indiana’s governor and has managed to spread and grow Indiana’s horrible voucher system in other states. Their goal is to spread their religious doctrine into this country’s young minds while also dumbing down or even eliminating civics classes.

    Their ultimate goal is to give college scholarships to carefully chosen students who will study a distorted form of law at schools they financially control through multi-million dollar “donations”. The graduates of those law schools will then infiltrate our courts as brainwashed judges who will rule against anyone that sues these donors for violating our laws in their quest for even greater profits. The Koch brothers alone have been doing this for many years and their takeover of law schools has accelerated at an alarming speed over the past decade.

    If you do a google search on any law school of your choice you will most likely find ” Endowed Chairs” and other forms of faculty control.

  19. In 1955 my husband was in the Marines stationed in Quantico, VA, for a short while we stayed with friends in Triangle, VA. No schools for coloreds in that small town or the surrounding small towns so the children were “bused”, in the extreme meaning of that word, to a town 50 miles away where they stayed with other colored families. Bused out on Sunday night, bused home Friday evenings.

    Then we found a more permanent residence in an apartment in Fredericksburg, VA, in one of those stately old mansions owned by the town dowager, Miss Annie Smith, widow of H.H. Smith, author of “The War Maker”, biography of Captain George B. Boynton. The house was on the top of a hill; the colored area was at the bottom of the hill with, for some reason, the white school across the street. About 1/2 mile away was the colored school; every day I watched as the colored kids walked away on one side of the street to school and the white kids walked in on the opposite side to their school at the bottom of the hill. We have progressed somewhat since then but the voucher system is determined to return segregation with students criss-crossing neighborhoods and none appear to be getting quality education.

    The words in the song from the movie “The Greatest” about Black Muslim Muhammad Ali offers the best advice; “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.” What quality leadership can we expect in the future from voucher students or public education students when they are the victims of White Nationalist and evangelical politicians?

    As Theresa Bowers said, there are no laws against this practice; there are however laws against financing this practice with our public education tax dollars.

  20. Yes, it’s a mess, all round, and Liberty Univ., Falwell’s hole in the ground, teaches, in its law school, that the founders had no qualms with mixing church and state. I would go to Reagan, and GWB, for the federal impetus behind the “Faith Based” garbage, but we, indeed, will do better to focus on the future, to try to pressure the Biden, and following administrations, to reverse the religious momentum in education.

  21. You, who are on the road,
    Must have a code
    That you can live by.
    And so become yourself
    Because the past is just a goodbye.

    Teach your children well.
    Their father’s hell
    Did slowly go by.
    And feed them on your dreams.
    The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.

    Don’t you ever ask them, “Why?”
    If they told you, you would cry.
    So, just look at them and sigh,
    And know they love you.

    [Verse in the background:]
    Can you hear and do you care
    And can’t you see
    We must be free
    To teach your children
    What you believe in,
    Make a world that we can live in?

    And you, of tender years,
    Can’t know the fears
    That your elders grew by.
    And so please help them with your youth.
    They seek the truth
    Before they can die.

    Teach your parents well.
    Their children’s hell
    Will slowly go by.
    And feed them on your dreams.
    The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.

    Don’t you ever ask them, “Why?”
    If they told you, you would cry.
    So, just look at them and sigh
    And know they love you.

    You’ve got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You’ve got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It’s got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

  22. The British schools don’t teach actual World War II history, or World War I for that matter, they eliminate the Americans from their history for the most part. In their school history books, Americans are basically nowhere to be found, in other words the Brits did it all on their own! There were no convoys to Britain that so many of the merchant seamen died in. The Marshall plan to rebuild Britain and Europe is not mentioned in those school books either! So, I think the new Secretary of Education needs to step up, Congress needs to eliminate this voucher program or maybe, Biden should just write an executive order dictating it!

    Dear Mr Sorg …
    I have to disagree with your above statement from this morning (see above).
    In my history lessons at school in England (1955 to 1966) we learned much about
    the United States history. Revolutionary war, etc, etc. My first visit to the US (April 1980)
    to meet my future American family (married into) were somewhat amazed at my knowledge
    of US history.

    Additionally, we have never projected the theory that England “Won the Second World War”
    in fact, we were grateful for all the help we could get. My first Knowledge of the “Holocaust”
    I discovered through history lessons. The Battle of Britain was fought by the Royal Air Force
    (which both of my parents served in) was made of Fighter Pilots from many corners of the
    British Empire and many from easter Europe. The Polish fighter pilots played a big role in
    keeping the English Channel free from invasion.

  23. We allow students to get government backed loans and grants to use that $$ at the college or university of their choice, including schools with a religious affiliation. Not sure why K-12 education should be different.

  24. I ran for the State House Seat for District 63 in the 2020 election. Like most Democrats in Indiana, I received 30% of the vote and lost to my opponent, Shane Lindauer who ran as a Republican. My campaign focused on Public education funding particularly because folks in areas that are far from Indy, Lake county and Fort Wayne don’t feel they are affected by the vouchers. Using data from Dr. McCormick’s office and with the help of some great public education activists, we were able to determine the amount of financial impact on the local school corporations in Dubois, Daviess, Martin and Pike counties that made up District 63. In the calendar year 2019 Greater Jasper Consolidated School Corp lost $522,693.37; Washington (Daviess Co.) lost $452,979.79; Pike County School Corp lost $301,547,83 and Martin County schools lost $245,644.75. Those amounts are for just ONE year, and this has been going on since 2010.

    Most people do not understand that voucher money comes off the top of the amount allotted to K-12 Education Tuition support for all public schools, so every school corporation in Indiana has the amount of money that they are due reduced to fund all vouchers used in the state, e.g. the taxpayers in Jasper have the school budget reduced to pay for a vouchers used in Indy or Fort Wayne, or anywhere in the state. The “Voucher Impact” is the amount denied to a school corporation based on the amount of tuition support that the school would have received had there been no voucher program.

    HB1005 is a serious blow to the future of Public Education. Not only does it impact the financial foundation of our most prized public institution, it seriously undermines the basic premise of public education and that is, as stated in the Indiana State Constitution, Article 8, Section 1: Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.

    I am the product of a great public education in the town of Elwood Indiana. A school system that produced Wendall L Willkie, Congressman Phillip Sharp, poet Jared Carter and State Representative Terri Austin. Each one of these people as well as me and the rest of the town have benefitted from our wonderful teachers and what was an equitably funded school until Mitch Daniels appeared in the Statehouse.

    Please contact your state legislators in Indiana and ask them to oppose HB 1005.

  25. Publishers state by state change history and curriculum to compete with each other. Even in public school curriculum is developed to sell according to the school board viewpoint or the most common type school board whether it be politically or religious. A Becca is trying to reach and compete with other Texas distributors and put forth a book that will be in demand by those who homeschool which is typically Christian.
    Project 1776 was created to combat the project 1619 currently in our public schools and is self admittantly false.
    The book “The plot to change america” shows another viewpoint how people view capitalist as bad and socialists as good.
    History needs to be taught correctly with the idea that there are victims throughout but we need to teach change without destroying history itself.

  26. Paul Ogden, the difference between post secondary loans and grants and K-12 school vouchers is that post secondary ed is not mandatory, and colleges and universities do not recieve all of their funding from the State.

  27. REPEAT – how about quit arguing about the “facts” of history and teach critical thinking so that students can make up their own minds about “what happened” and “what was learned”? Such is “Teaching as a Subversive Activity”…

  28. As an Agnostic, I find funding Religious Schools distasteful from tax dollars, teaching their Bronze Age Mythology. There is probably some good advice in the bible. Plato among others had good advice too. The critical difference is we do not believe Plato had God’s E-Mail address to divinely inspire him.

    The bible thumper’s I have encountered believe the bible via humans was actually god speaking through them. Oh yeah I heard god and he said this or that. Just because a lot of people believe in “holy words” from god does not make it true. People once believed the sun revolved the earth. Some still believe in Noah’s Ark.

    The other piece to this is the church’s, etc., not paying taxes.

  29. John Sorg – I assume you endorse the writings of Mrs. Meyer: “Commenting on the foregoing a prominent United States educator, Mrs. Agnes E. Meyer, had the following to say in the Atlantic Monthly, March, 1952: ‘The child is robbed of its full development if it receives no guidance in early years toward recognition of the religious aspects of life.'”

    If I wished to develop a generation of non-critical thinkers, one of my major programs would be to tell children – the younger the better- that there is an absolute authority that requires them to believe in some kind of creature who created the universe in seven days and who has already answered all of the moral questions that one might encounter throughout his or her life. I would let them know that they are required to spend part of every day focusing on the infallibility of the one who defined our moral universe for us. I would forbid them from questioning this absurd statement, and demonstrate to them that I value their thoughts based on how well they comply with my directions. I would then present them with a stately book that pretends to “prove” my assertions as a reference they might use to supersede any thinking they propose to undertake on their own. I would drive this latter point home time and time again by disapproving of any comments they might make to the contrary. In other words, full development of children’s potential is not based on how well they learn or spout inherited dogma, but on how deeply they penetrate the heart of various “truths” that are presented to them as inviolable.

    If I wished to make those children think for themselves I would not do any of the things mentioned in Mrs. Meyer’s or your arguments. In fact, I would alert them to a part of history, called the Enlightenment, and the people who made major contributions to it, which they will begin to learn about as they move through school and become familiar with the centuries of repression preceding it during which church authorities replaced truth and evidence with their groundless assertions. I would inform the children, in the gentlest way possible, that many people were killed for not accepting the truth that people working for the church insisted was the only truth worth listening to.

    In other words, I would inform them that secular lives built on reflection and skepticism are as meaningful, or more so, than lives built on fiction-based versions of why we are here.

  30. Pascal is on to something, and the contorted logic undergirding the Indiana Supreme Court’s holding in (effectively) approving the use of public funding for religious instruction as money that goes “to the parents” is breathtakingly wrong and in my view unconstitutional. I knew we were headed for such a result in some jurisdictions whatever the grounds therefor ever since the U.S. Supreme Court decided long ago that books and school buses for parochial schools were not in furtherance of religion, itself a contorted view of reality.

    I think of education not as an exercise of indoctrination but rather as one of neutrality in what is taught in the public schools, and that tax policy should reinforce such idea. Thus if parochial educators wish to teach religion to young inquiring minds, fine, but not on the public dime.

  31. Basic business economics shows that it’s easier to grow in a growing market than to shrink in a shrinking market due to fixed assets, buildings and all. I don’t know when the market for religious schools started to shrink, probably well after I was through public education, but I know that the market for public schools probably never peaked nationally, it stabilized, although certainly there were local population shifts in both markets. Also of course church populations and giving peaked although again more in some places than others.

    The net of all of that was fiscally challenged churches and church schools and to a lesser extent fiscally challenged public schools due to a leveling of middle-class incomes due to competition inevitably moving from national to global competition in the US and Europe.

    Vouchers are a way to share the pain equally between churches and school districts artificially rather than to keep both markets free. In order for that to work church educators had to distinguish their product from public educators which they did by challenging separation of church and state and doubling down on the myths that grew the church originally which stirred nostalgia among adults to return to simpler times.

    All of this waste could have been avoided just by culture maintaining adaptation to current times by assuming that change is necessary to embrace changing reality.

    No single force created these or any other times, but all forces must change with the times to proper. We’d rather blame others for the change and act like it never happened which is a perhaps fatal flow in intelligence.



  33. Paul Ogden, you can’t be serious!!! What you compared are two different financial situations altogether

  34. State legislators wants the taxpayers to fund their own children’s private school educations – that’s why they keep raising the income eligibility levels.

    Yes some want religious instruction in religion schools. Some want their children in schools that discriminate against children who are handicapped, are of different races and religions, and are poor. And they want the taxpayers to finance this discrimination, but not because they are willing to increase state expenditures to do so. That’s why the voucher funds are financed by cutting public schools – even and perhaps especially when public school expenses don’t decrease. Part of the incentive for some legislators to cut public schools to fund private schools is to decimate public education. That may seem impossible to contemplate, but Jerry Falwell Sr. used to urge his followers to destroy the ‘godless public schools’.

    ORGANIZED prayer in public schools was ruled unconstitutional in the 1960s, but God is alive and well in public schools every day to every student regardless of their faith, income, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or language. The overwhelming majority of public school teachers are Sunday school teachers. They teach children the golden rule, to share, to take their turns, to behave, to prepare, to observe common courtesies and healthful and sanitation practices, and much more. The public schools provide lunches and increasingly breakfasts for free or reduced prices to children from families too poor to afford them at all or at full price. Textbooks are provided to poor students on the same basis. Social workers, school counselors, school psychologists, and school nurses provide services to children needing them in families of various income levels. If there was ever an agency of the government which demonstrated Jesus’ commitment to ALL children, it is the public schools.

  35. Oh my – I wish edits were permitted here. State legislators “want” taxpayers to fund their own children’s private school educations. I regret the error.

  36. “The linkage between Christian beliefs and the violent attack on Congress has since pushed evangelical leaders to confront their own relationship with Trump and their support for the rioters.”
    Perhaps they need to examine how Christian beliefs are linked to violent attacks – period. Wasn’t Jesus the Prince of Peace? I thought he taught his followers to “Love one another as I have loved you.”
    There seems to be a real disconnect between what Christianity purports to be and what its followers actually do in real life.

  37. It was no cake walk going to Catholic schools in 50’s & 60’s. We were packed 60+ kids into small classrooms with one teacher(usally nun). Our parents did the best they could in their tradition. Some say they payed twice for their kids to go to parochial schools. They worked hard & paid a lot taxes, and then paid parochial tuition for a Catholic education for 9 kids. At times as a kid it felt oppresive i.e. when mom put older slow brother with me in HS,when I objected she said I was a Christian & what was wrong with me?
    Many people come out of that system & do great things i.e Joe Biden & Nancy Pelosi. We followed State approved curriculem at that time. Went to Mass prior to school day & 1/2 hr. talking about old& new testaments.
    Now that vouchers are involved, I would like to see that kids are taught they have rights in those autoritarian institutions.
    Things are changing & if we work together to conserve the good & progress from there, we’ll end up in a more equitable & just society.

  38. Nancy Papas, I also wish “love” buttons were permitted. I would give you one.
    And also JoAnn Green and Terry Munson et al.

  39. Terry,

    Been a long day just saw your comment,

    Are you even aware of the released time program that was part of education back in the early 50s? Comprehension of the article is imperative to understanding what the woman was saying! Agnes E Meyer was saying that the release time program in school was no place to teach religion! That religion should be taught in church and at home!

    I’ll go back to my previous comment a few days ago, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Viscount Bolingbrook, and Joseph Priestley, all said that it was rational to believe in a supreme being so rationality and a supreme being did not cancel each other out! Whether your supreme intellect outweighs that of the Giants before you, well, that’s for you to decide! I guess pre-Terry Munson, humanity was much dumber, I prefer the historical approach, read the opinions and thoughts of those from before! That is how you glean knowledge, and that combined with experience gives a person a certain amount of wisdom!

    RIF, reading is fundamental!

  40. Robert Bentley,
    by the way, awesome name!

    From what I’ve read, one of the wars, the Revolutionary war, was not taught much in British schools, the history of the 1st world war and how it ended was manipulated in the British schools, and, in a decisive battle on December 26, the American doughboys severed German supply lines after the French and British were bogged down! If they would’ve failed they would’ve lost the war!

    I believe that was in the trenches of Meuse-Argonne.

    Concerning the 2nd world war,

    The wife of the vicar of Worle in Somerset drew up a six-point plan for local women to deal with black American servicemen – cross the street if you saw one approach; move away if one sits next to you in the cinema; shops should serve them as quickly as possible and make it clear they should not return. And “on no account must coloured troops be invited into the homes of white women.”

    Worse still, a memo by a senior British officer leaked out saying that British soldiers and civilians should not fraternise with “negroes” because they were “of a simple mental outlook,” lacking “the white man’s ability to think and act to a plan.”

    It was said that after dark, Bristol came alive with black Americans going out with the local girls, and this caused alarm in some quarters. In April 1943 the annual meeting of the Bristol Diocesan Association for Moral Welfare summoned the Chief Constable of Bristol, Charles Maby, to discuss what it saw as unwelcome fraternisation across the racial divide.

    The Chief Constable reported that there had been many complaints about interracial romance both to himself and the Council’s Watch Committee.

    So, maybe not all history was scrubbed, but a large portion of it was! If it wasn’t for those American soldiers of African dissent, Britain probably would’ve fallen! Not only the infantry but the legendary Tuskegee airmen were busy over Britain.

  41. Sorg –
    Anecdotes are not data, and without context, they can be very misleading. Do you have any evidence from a neutral academic peer-reviewed paper or three, that would back your wild chauvinism?

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