Religious freedom victim of ideological hijacking of public schools | Catholic National Register
COMMENT: Former Attorney General Bill Barr described three phases of ruin in a recent speech.
Summer vacation is almost here. As my children complete the school year, the value of education is very present in my mind. Perhaps that is why I was so struck by a recent – and quite remarkable – speech by former Attorney General Bill Barr. He is sounding the alarm: American public schools are being overtaken by progressive ideologues, and religious freedom is among its victims.
The Defending Freedom Alliance recently honored Barr with its annual Edwin Meese III Award for Originality and Religious Freedom. Its acceptance word is informative and provocative. He said:
“We are rapidly approaching the point – if we have not already reached the point – where the brutal application of secular-progressive orthodoxy through government-run schools is utterly incompatible with mainstream Christianity and the other great ones. religious traditions of our country. ”
How did we get here? Barr identifies three phases.
In its first phase, advocates of public schools agreed that religion was an integral part of education.
The second phase, in the latter part of the 20th century, was marked by a “relentless campaign of secularization aimed at driving every vestige of traditional religion from the public square”. Our Judeo-Christian tradition has been replaced with “trite talk of liberal values - be a good person; be considerate.
The third phase, which began just a few years ago, is no longer a “secularization by subtraction”. On the contrary, it is much more threatening:
“Now we are seeing the affirmative indoctrination of children with a secular belief system and a worldview that substitutes for religion and is contrary to the beliefs and values of traditional God-centered religion.”
He notes the bizarre case of an Iowa school district that “taught transgender and homosexuality to students of all grades, including preschool.” The district’s “Black Lives Matter Action Week in School” consisted of giving students a coloring book page that teaches them, “Anyone can choose if it’s a girl or a boy or both or neither one nor the other or anyone else, and no one else chooses for them.
It’s delusional. Twenty years ago, my two oldest children attended the public school in our neighborhood for kindergarten. They chose not to take health classes because I want those first discussions about their bodies to take place at home. So they hung out in the library instead.
Today, many public schools in the United States do not offer such provisions for refractory families. Barr notes that the Orange County, Calif., Board of Education has gone so far as to issue an opinion that “parents who disagree with educational material related to gender, identity gender, gender expression and sexual orientation cannot exempt their children from this education. . “
Unsurprisingly, progressive ideology in schools goes far beyond gender and sexuality. The absurdity known as Critical Race Theory has crept in as well. Barr describes it as “nothing more than the materialist philosophy of Marxism substituting racial antagonism for class antagonism.” And as if that were not enough, this new ideology “calls into question the very legitimacy of the nation itself – to the point of explicitly attacking its founding documents, principles and symbols”.
Here’s a crucial point: the ideological hijacking of public schools disrupts the constitutional order, especially when it comes to religious believers. “For the government to go into business through public schools indoctrination of students into secular belief systems that are directly contrary to the traditional religious beliefs of students and their families raises fundamental constitutional issues,” notes Barr. He goes on to make two interesting observations.
The first is that such indoctrination interferes with the free exercise of religion. “Nothing is more fundamental than the right of parents to transmit religious faith to their children,” notes Barr. And the kind of indoctrination into alternative belief systems practiced in our schools that are contrary to those religious beliefs interferes with this most important parental right.
Barr’s second observation is provocative. “Things have also reached a point where the establishment clause is involved,” he says. He rightly observes that “secularism has been seen protection religious clauses ”, but“ it was generally not subject to the prohibitions of the establishment clause ”.
On this last point, there is a certain attraction in concluding that there is a “constitutional double standard”. But protecting the free exercise clause is different from guarding against a state sponsored religion. And the ideology itself, no matter how fervent its adherents are, is do not religion.
Barr concludes his speech by proposing a solution to the infiltration of progressive ideology in public schools across the country. Public schools were meant to help unify Americans. Schools plagued by secular progressivism, on the other hand, “have assumed the reverse mission of separating us, of teaching insurmountable differences, of dividing us into many different identities destined to be antagonistic.”
He rightly observes that “public funding of education does not require that instruction be provided through government-run schools”. A system of The vouchers, he argues, allow “students and parents to choose the school – private, public, sectarian or non-sectarian – which best meets their needs and the imperatives of their conscience.”
The Catholic Church and the United States Supreme Court recognize that parents are the primary educators of children. And after listening to the litany of disturbing ideas taking root in many public schools today, I am relieved that I have chosen to send my school-aged children to private religious schools. I also know that having access to vouchers would certainly help ease the financial burden I carry, as well as encourage other parents to consider alternatives to public schools.