The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions about gun rights and procured abortion have raised such a controversy that many may not have noticed the Court’s decision in Carson v. Makin.
In areas where the State has no public schools, Maine provides assistance so students might go to privately-run schools—except those which are religious. By making this exception, the ruling found that Maine is violating the religious rights of its citizens.
Discriminating Against Religion
Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey takes issue with that decision. His press release reveals that modern statism is just as much a religion as any other.
“Public funds cannot be used to attend a private school that promotes religion because such schools, by definition, do not provide the equivalent of a public education.”
Until recent times, such language was only used against schools with glaring curriculum gaps. For instance, it could apply to a school that did not teach mathematics, science, history or some other major subject. It might also pertain to a school whose calendar did not allow the minimum time required for an entire school year, usually 180 days.
The Importance of Being Diverse
No one charges the religious schools of Maine with such lapses. Attorney General Frey can point out no academic problems. He declares religious education deficient because it cannot live up to politically correct and diversity standards.
“Public education should expose children to a variety of viewpoints, promote tolerance and understanding, and prepare children for life in a diverse society.”
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Notice that the Attorney General does not criticize the schools’ ability to impart knowledge, presumably the main reason the states set up public schools. He does not question their capacity to help students pursue a career. The critical element is diversity.
The Modern State’s Religion
What makes these schools “inimical to a public education” is that they do not subscribe to current theories of “gender ideology.”
“They promote a single religion to the exclusion of all others, refuse to admit gay and transgender children, and openly discriminate in hiring teachers and staff.”
Thus, Mr. Frey and his supporters set themselves up as judges of beliefs, not educational standards. He is showing intolerance to the schools he accuses of intolerance. He affirms as dogma many unscientific pronouncements of “gender” theory departments that clash not only with religious teaching but scientific knowledge.
“Gender ideology” with all its hundreds of “genders” is just that—an ideology. It is a set of ideas to which some people adhere. Merriam-Webster defines ideology as “a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture.”
The groups and subcultures to which Mr. Frey subscribes are obsessed with moral standards that differ from their own. They want to use their power over government and schools to impose their beliefs on the young. They want to punish those who disagree with their worldview.
For example, Mr. Frey expresses a particular horror for one traditional belief.
“One school teaches children that the husband is to be the leader of the household.”
This belief is found in the Scriptures. It is a direct attack on the traditional family, about which he has no right to opine. His opinions are also directed against the teachings of the Catholic Church, which has always provided superior education.
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“While parents have the right to send their children to such schools, it is disturbing that the Supreme Court found that parents also have the right to force the public to pay for an education that is fundamentally at odds with values we hold dear.”
What the Supreme Court Actually Says
The Attorney General’s statements are also wrong because they have nothing to do with the actual decision. Nowhere does the Supreme Court call into question the curricula of religious schools. As long as they comply with educational requirements, they should be free to receive the same benefits as other schools. He seems not to have read and digested the language of the Supreme Court. The Attorney General need not read everything in Chief Justice Robert’s written decision. Three quotations will suffice.
“The State pays tuition for certain students at private schools—so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion.”
“Maine has decided not to operate schools of its own, but instead to offer tuition assistance that parents may direct to the public or private schools of their choice.”
“Maine chose to allow some parents to direct state tuition payments to private schools; that decision was not “forced upon” it. The State retains a number of options: it could expand the reach of its public school system, increase the availability of transportation, provide some combination of tutoring, remote learning, and partial attendance, or even operate boarding schools of its own.”
In short, no one compels the State of Maine to support any private schools. The state could have chosen other courses. Even now, the State could change its policies and build new schools for those students currently attending private schools at the State’s expense.
Eternal and Natural Law: The Foundation of Morals and Law
The only course Maine is forbidden to take is telling its people, “We will pay for your children to go to certain private schools, but not to religious private schools.” This distinction discriminates against religion and, therefore, violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Officials Who Resist Following the Law
Like many “progressive prosecutors,” Attorney General Frey resents having to enforce rulings that go against his opinions.
“I intend to explore with Governor Mills’ administration and members of the Legislature statutory amendments to address the Court’s decision and ensure that public money is not used to promote discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry.”
Is it possible that Mr. Frey ignores the irony in his words? Can he not see that the “discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry” is his own? Does he not see he is mounting a persecution of religion, especially the Catholic Church, for its moral stands against “gender” ideology?
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