Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Church/State debate moves back to public schools

Ever since ENGEL v. VITALE, 370 U.S. 421 (1962) outlawed school prayer controversy has raged over what schools should teach children about religion and the metaphysical. The debate is reaching a new crescendo in Odessa, Texas, where local school board recently voted to add an elective Bible Course for students. But even though it will be offered as an elective opposition to the course is strong. Predominately, the opposition relates to the evolution/creationism debate.

Matters of faith are, of course, always emotional. And by definition they exist outside the realm of scientific proof. And so the question ultimately devolves to whether schools should be trusted to teach children what they should believe in the arenas where proof--in the Newtonian sense--doesn't exist. It should be obvious there are as many answers to that question as there are people with an opinion. And because opinions and beliefs are philosophical cousins it is equally obvious that there can be no "correct" or "one size fits all" answer to the question what our children should be taught while in school.

Families who can afford it home school their children or send them to private schools that teach the curriculum they prefer. Families who can't afford private schools or a stay-at-home parent develop compensatory strategies or else ignore the problem. While some recognize this solution fosters economic discrimination, few recognize that the public schools are themselves a "religion" of sorts, i.e., a belief system that denies the existence of the supernatural.

This is not to say that religion is "right" and atheism is "wrong". It is to say that public education has a long way to go before it meets the needs of all people. It is also to say that many on the left--those who preach diversity and tolerance when it comes to race or gender--are outright hypocrites when it comes to creed.


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