Here’s a good example of getting things topsy turvy: This piece in The Atlantic on charter schools that have religious affiliations. If you reverse everything they say, you come close to the right order of things.
Does Religion Have a Place in Public Schools? “The question of what to do with religion in school-choice programs is how, or whether, to keep the baby while ditching the bathwater.”
Only problem is, the authors get mixed up on which is the baby and which is the bathwater, and ends up trying to ditch the baby in order to keep the dirty bathwater. The question that they should have asked is whether secular public schools have a place in a nation with religion.
Perhaps the most pervasive feature of the article is an assumption by Justice and MacLeod that “what schools are for” is to train students to be good little children all supporting the secular democrat(ic) regime. [all emphasis below is mine]
From the standpoint of democratic theory, the basic problem with school choice is this…
In some ways, deregulating public education and transcending the geographic limitations of 19th-century districting laws can enhance democratic education. [which does NOT mean “the education that occurs in a democracy”]
Are charter-school conversions good or bad for democratic education?...
The answer depends on questions that courts are reluctant to ask: Which groups are running the schools and to what ends? Do the schools have a democratic purpose (and not merely a “legitimate secular” one)?...
By law, these schools should be open and accepting of students of any background and be secular in purpose and in practice…
The mission of public schools is to create engaged, smart, capable democratic citizens…
Oddly, the authors are quite willing to assume the rightness of a law that demands that the schools be secular, without asking whether that’s a good thing, but then they are willing to shake their fists at judges who refuse to ask whether the schools “have a democratic purpose” when that’s not even in the law!. What do they suppose the judge could do, say “Well, what you are doing is legal, but not democratic enough, so I am going to hit you with a fine that has no basis in law”? Naturally, any parent with an ounce of independent sense will be asking “isn’t the purpose of schools to EDUCATE my kids, not turn them into “democratic” sock-puppets of the regime? Enough with the propaganda, already.”
The second most telling thing (though it runs near a tie with the first) is the obvious animosity the authors have with religion as religion. In their minds secular = good, and religion = bad but barely tolerable if all its special meaning is drained out.
On the other hand, some religious groups preach beliefs and false information that are hostile to fellow citizens and dangerous to civil society...
Rather than changing the views of antidemocratic [read: religious] groups, choice programs can provide them with publicly funded platforms for spreading their ideology, while strings are either loosened, twisted, or dropped by the secular authorities who have no interest in holding them…
School leaders can wink at state and federal regulations, sneak religion into the curriculum, and in the most egregious (but predictable) examples, advance private agendas that clash with public values…[read: secular values]
And for the “intellectually bogus” schools – yep, you guessed it, schools that teach creation as an option to Darwinian evolution. And another, a school that teaches
that the decline in Christian values caused World War I.
Heavens, how intellectually bankrupt THAT theory is. After all, we know that if people had been truly Christian, the war would have been…what, just as bad? Worse? Because…gnome underpants? No, the authors have to reject EVERYTHING religious, even if it is a religion claiming that it’s own failure is the cause of a horrible tragedy of world proportions!
The third element, which carries the weight of the argument, is the supposed “anti-diversity” of the religious schools:
Such schools can also retard the development of citizens by balkanizing our population, curtailing the free exchange of diverse ideas, limiting exposure to diversity, and creating ideological bubbles…
Please don’t notice that “limiting exposure to diversity” means limiting exposure to trans insanity, sex ed indecency, and mindless PC claptrap. They DON’T mean by “diversity” having (a) secular schools; (b) Protestant ones; (c) Catholic ones; and (d) Jewish ones. No, that’s not diversity. Only THEIR version of diversity is fair, OTHER parties presenting their ideas IN THEIR OWN WORDS is not diverse, it’s “curtailing the free exchange of diverse ideas”. Here it is again:
But on the question of diversity—that is, the acceptance of differences not only of faith, but of race, culture, sexual orientation, and others—many faiths clash with democratic values in ways that raise serious concerns about their fitness to be school providers in choice programs.
How is it that the authors can maintain such a condescending pretense of being in favor of open-mindedness, and yet be so intolerant of religious views, and of religions teaching their religious views to anyone who wants to put their kids in the school? Because, you know, you have to ASK to get your kid into a charter school.
Here’s the core objection the authors have to any really religious point of view – disguised as their objection to these objectionable teachings:
These are not good-faith differences of opinion. The extreme and unsubstantiated claims advanced in these materials lie well outside the ambit of public knowledge. They are designed to obfuscate and distort deliberation rather than to inform debate. As such, they are direct attacks on public reason and democratic life…
There you go: religious beliefs are “well outside the ambit of public knowledge”, because public knowledge is by definition secular.
Here are the strings that can be used to make teaching a tiny bit of religion tolerable: reduce religion to a servant of the state.
Stephen Macedo, a politics professor at Princeton University, has argued that such strings can even encourage religious groups to modify their beliefs and practices…
A different kind of conversion, more typical of Roman Catholic parochial schools, reconstitutes a religious school that serves no particular cultural group or even religious one, but hews instead to a mission of Christian service and (usually) light evangelism…
It is important to note that not all religious groups make war on science. There are clear differences among faiths and within them. While it still retains miraculous elements in its rituals and doctrinal teachings, for example, the Roman Catholic Church has reconciled itself to modern science, including Darwin’s theory of evolution.
If I were the bishop of a diocese and I knew that some of my schools were responsible for this judgment of the authors, I would have heads rolling within the hour. Not so much the “reconciled itself to science” but the rest of the insinuation that Catholic schools have had their teeth pulled and are now little secular schools with a mere veneer.
Of course, I would be tempted to take a little comfort in the fact that the authors don’t have a clue what Catholicism actually is, given that they say things like this:
As part of his effort to clean up the public image of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis famously asked, “Who am I to judge [gay priests]?” a seeming reversal of his predecessor’s statement that homosexuality is an “intrinsic moral evil.”
But I am not so naïve: their ignorance of Catholicism is almost matched by a fair number of Catholic priests and teachers.
I can’t let one twisted sentence go without correction:
Homophobia is one area of bigotry where many faiths find common cause, even as public schools across the country are building anti-bullying programs and safe spaces for LGBT youth.
Naturally, what they mean is that public schools across the country are building BULLYING programs to force kids to accept the perversions of gays and trans as “normal”. But you knew that already, didn’t you? Just in case you didn’t get the Newspeak occurring here, the authors bring it home:
George Orwell could not have imagined it better.
The question that the authors ignore, the question so large that they cannot even wrap their minds around it, is this: should Christian states ever have allowed non-religious schools to begin with? Can Christians hope to pass on their religions via secular schools? (The evidence shows otherwise.) Is it moral (just) to have government pay for schools for the secular religion while refusing to pay for other religious schools? Should we even ALLOW there to be state schools? Is education too damn important to leave to the (secular) government? Do we really want schools to indoctrinate out kids with propaganda? Do we want schools to take on roles beyond that of education?
It doesn’t in the least surprise me that the liberal stupidigentsia is still churning out this level of crap all the time. What surprises me is that something like the Atlantic is willing to let such blatant drivel go out under their banner: it’s not only the relentless, dripping venom of the authors toward religion. It’s their ignorance of what they are writing about. It’s the superficiality of their questions. It’s the mindlessness of their assumptions. It’s almost like they were themselves the product of their own government schools. [Oh, wait…they probably are. The prosecution rests, your honor.]