Education Policy

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PADM 550

Discussion: Education Policy Assignment Instructions

Overview

The purpose of the Discussion is to begin to analyze and formulate the “May” of governmental authority to enact policy from a Biblical worldview and Constitutional foundations.

Instructions

For this Discussion, you will interact in a free-flowing discussion of the biblical and constitutional parameters for the policy focus of federal education policy. The thread should be short and succinct (3-5 sentences at most per topic) Thus, you are to post according to the following guidelines:

·
Biblical: One paragraph (3-5 sentences) applying the Biblical principles (section one of the Synthesis Paper Assignment) such as natural law, inalienable rights, sphere sovereignty/covenant, the Sin/Crime distinction and the institutional separation of Church and State to a specific policy. Please remember that simply citing scripture does not constitute a Biblical worldview analysis. You must apply the Biblical principles as discussed in the course.

·
Constitutional: One paragraph (3-5 sentences) referencing the enumerated powers, Articles and Amendments from the Constitution which are relevant to the assigned policy area.
NOTE: Avoid the use of the General Welfare Clause as a justification for the legislation unless you can definitively demonstrate that the entire U.S. population will benefit from the legislation, or provide significant Supreme Court rulings to support the use of the clause.

·
There must be two separate paragraphs. Both paragraphs must focus on the general policy area for the assigned module. For instance, when the course module focuses on criminal justice, the Biblical post must focus on what the Bible says about what government may or may not do in fighting crime. Likewise, the Constitutional post must focus on what the Constitution says about what government may or may not do in fighting crime. Specific examples should be used and cited.

You must use the following sources:

1. the Bible,

2. relevant presentations and articles from Modules/Weeks 1–2 which focus on biblical and constitutional ideas, including the “Biblical Principles of Government” article,

3. the required reading from the assigned module/week, and

4. any additional relevant sources that you would like to use.

CHAPTER 6 MONSMA, STEVE

6: Church and State

“Give to Caesar What Is Caesar’s,

and to God What Is God’s”

(Matthew 22 : 21)

IN 2003 A CONTROVERSY AROSE IN ALABAMA that made headlines nationwide and was the lead story on CNN. The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy S. Moore, installed a two-and-a-half-ton granite monument in the rotunda of the state judicial building with the Ten Commandments carved on it. A United States District Court judge ruled that the monument was an endorsement of religion in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. He ordered the monument removed. Moore refused, declaring, “God has chosen this time and this place so we can save our country and save our courts for our children.” Alabama’s judicial ethics panel reacted by removing Judge Moore from office for his refusal to obey a clear court order.1

Another event: In the 1990s in an effort to create a lively exchange of ideas and opinions, the University of Virginia subsidized student publications. It subsidized fifteen different publications, ranging from an environmental publication to Yellow Journal, featuring anti religious tirades. Ronald Rosen berger and several other evangelical students started a publication called Wide Awake, in which they discussed from a clearly Christian perspective a number of current issues, such as war and peace, eating disorders, and homosexuality.

Wide Awake was denied university funding. Why? Because it was a religious publication, and the university had a policy against funding religious student publications. The students took their case to the courts. The lower federal courts sided with the university, but in a razor-thin, five to four decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the evangelical students. The Court stated that the First Amendment’s guarantee of governmental neutrality on matters of religion “is respected, not offended, when the government, following neutral criteria and evenhanded policies, extends benefits to recipients whose ideologies and viewpoints, including religious ones, are broad and diverse.”2

In effect, the Supreme Court ruled that the University of Virginia could fund all legitimate student publications or no student publications; what it could not do is fund the secular ones but not the religious ones. To do so would discriminate against religious viewpoints.

What do these two events teach us about the relationship between church and state? How should we evangelical Christians—who take the Bible seriously and seek to live it out as citizens—react to the Judge Moores and Ronald Rosenbergers of this world? Salute them as heroes of faith? Or condemn them for trying to prop up their faith with governmental support?

This chapter first considers a very basic principle that will help guide us through the church-state maze; it next compares two approaches to religious freedom issues. Then we will be ready to return to Judge Moore and Ronald Rosenberger and the stands they took and look at three other pressing, puzzling church-state issues—ones that prompt clashing opinions by many evangelicals.

A Basic Principle

What is religious freedom? If asked this question by some TV news crew doing on-the-street interviews, many of us would answer some-thing to the effect that freedom of religion means the ability to worship God as we see fit. And we would not be far off.

Freedom of religion means being able to worship God and follow one’s conscience and beliefs without fear of arrest and repression by the government. At heart, this is what the not-fully-clear words of the First Amendment of the Constitution are about: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Freedom of religion as provided in the First Amendment means being free to worship God as one’s conscience dictates—or to worship no God at all.

Here we need to recall from earlier chapters the biblical principles of justice as the God-given purpose of governments, of solidarity as being a duty all Christians share, and of civil-society organizations as being a part of God’s will for human society.

A government seeking justice for all its citizens will neither try to prevent anyone from worshiping God as one’s conscience dictates, nor try to force anyone to worship God (or gods) in ways contrary to his or her conscience or beliefs. A violation of religious freedom—and thereby of the principle of justice—can take the form of outright governmental coercion, but it is more likely to take the form of gentler practices that give advantages or disadvantages to certain religious beliefs—or to nonreligious, secular belief systems. Perhaps the most basic right of all that is due us is the right to worship God as our conscience demands.

“What our Constitution indispensably protects is the freedom of each of us, be he Jew or Agnostic, Christian or Atheist, Buddhist or Freethinker, to believe or disbelieve, to worship or not worship, to pray or keep silent, according to his own conscience, uncoerced and unrestrained by government.”3

—POTTER STEWART,

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JUSTICE

Solidarity demands that we be concerned with the violation of religious-freedom rights, even when we ourselves are not affected. This will sometimes be harder to do than what we might think. It is easy for us to defend the religious-freedom rights of ourselves and of our fellow Christians. But solidarity with all our neighbors demands that we be as concerned for the religious freedom of our Jewish, Muslim, and unbelieving neighbors as we are for our own. Recall Diet Eman and Hein Seitsma, who in Nazi-occupied Netherlands were willing to put their lives at risk to protect their Jewish neighbors. Hein paid with his life in the Dachau concentration camp. Most of us are asked to do much less. But we ought to speak up if our non-Christian fellow citizens and their religious beliefs and practices are being put at a disadvantage due to our government’s public policies—even as we witness to them of Christ’s love and pray that they too may some day come to accept Christ’s offer of salvation.

The vision of full religious freedom is also in keeping with the God-willed importance of civil society. Remember Abraham Kuyper?Churches, synagogues, and mosques are civil-society institutions that have a God-given sovereignty in their “spheres.” Government should not intrude into the business of religious congregations, either to help or to hinder. That most definitely is not the role of government.

Thus a justice-promoting, solidarity-motivated, civil-society-respecting approach to religious freedom means public policies ought to be evenhanded or neutral toward those of all faiths and of none. That means we as Christians ought not to claim any special privileges or advantages over our neighbors who hold other religious beliefs or none at all. Our solidarity with them demands this. Claiming special advantages would be falling into the Christian-nation trap I first discussed in chapter 1. But evenhanded public policies also mean our non-Christian neighbors ought not to be given any special privileges or advantages over us who are Christians. This principle of evenhandedness is fundamental. One needs to get it right in order to get today’s specific church-state controversies right.

More specific insights, however, are needed. I will soon be discussing such issues as the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places, school prayer, and government-issued vouchers to pay for education at home or in Christian schools. To do so we need to discuss more concrete ideas. Two are especially important. I consider them in the next section.

Church-State Separation versus Evenhandedness

There are those who argue that the way to achieve religious freedom for all, as I have been describing it, is by strictly separating church and state. They say the way to assure that public policies play no favorites among the many religious groups in the United States is to ensure a strict separation between them and the government and its public policies. It is especially important, in this view, that public policies do not use tax dollars to fund religious activities. For government to be evenhanded among the many religious groups, it should treat them all the same—by not encouraging, aiding, or recognizing any of them.

Thus strict separationist groups such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) oppose nativity scenes at Christmastime and other religious displays on public lands, the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance, organized prayers or the questioning of evolution in public schools, and government funding of religious schools. They opposed the funding of the evangelical student publication at the University of Virginia and the display of the Ten Commandments mentioned at the beginning of the chapter.

What could be simpler? Or more just? If government is not to show any favoritism to any one religion, government should have as little as possible to do with religion. Strictly separate religion and government and government’s evenhandedness will be assured. But will it?

The problem is that public policies such as this would not be evenhanded between religious groups and activities, on the one hand, and thoroughly secular, nonreligious groups and activities, on the other. An example will help.

Milford is a small town of three thousand residents in central New York State. Stephen and Darleen Fournier, Milford residents, asked permission to start a Good News Club for elementary school children that would meet in the school after normal school hours, as did other social, civic, and recreational groups. Parents would have to give written permission for their children to attend. Meetings would consist of prayer, Bible stories, memorizing Bible verses, and snacks.

The Fourniers were turned down by the school authorities, because their proposed Good News Club meetings were religious in nature. Government, in effect, would be helping to spread religious beliefs. Thus began a long court battle.

The Supreme Court decided in 2001 that the school district was in the wrong and the Good News Club must be allowed to use the school’s facilities. The Court ruled that to do otherwise would be to discriminate against religion. Explaining the Supreme Court’s decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that “there is no logical difference in kind between the invocation of Christianity by the Club and the invocation of teamwork, loyalty, or patriotism by other associations to provide a foundation for their lessons.” 4 Evenhandedness meant that an organization using Christianity to encourage moral development should be treated the same as a secular organization using “teamwork, loyalty, or patriotism” to encourage moral development. To allow the secular organizations to use the school facilities and to deny Christian organizations to do so would discriminate against religion.

If only secular groups may use school facilities, and if in countless other ways public policies may support and recognize only secular organizations and viewpoints, religion and its organizations and view-points would be discriminated against. Government would then no longer be evenhanded or neutral between the religious and the secular but would be tilting in favor of the secular. This is not justice.

Those who urge the strict separationist approach make an unexamined assumption: that if government sponsors no religious references or symbols and supports no religious activities or organizations, then it has created neutral ground where no one’s deepest beliefs are advantaged or disadvantaged. But they could not be more wrong. In today’s world, Christian and other religious world views are competing with thoroughly secular world views. Whether it is called secular humanism, humanism, secularism, or a secular cultural ethos, one is referring to a force in American culture that poses the most formidable competition for the hearts and minds of our neighbors—and of our children.

Thus when, under strict church-state separation, public policies recognize, sponsor, or support nonreligious, secular organizations and their points of view—and not religious ones—government is favoring them over religious organizations and points of view. Government is no longer being neutral or evenhanded. It is clearly supporting one of the sides in the most significant moral, truth-seeking divide in American society today—that between nonreligious, secular world-views and Christian and other religious world views.

There is a better way. It seeks to put legs on the basic principle that just public policies will be evenhanded, or neutral, toward people of all faiths as well as secularists with no religious faith. The equal treatment or neutrality principle argues it is proper for public policies to recognize and support religious organizations, symbols, and practices, as long as it is recognizing and supporting those of the wide variety of religions found in the United States, and as long as it is recognizing and supporting religiously based and secularly based organizations, symbols, and practices alike. In that way religion, including Christianity, is recognized and honored for what it is, but Christianity is not being put into a favored position above other religions or secularism.

“Banishment of religion does not represent neutrality between religion and secularism; conduct of public institutions without any acknowledgment of religion is secularism.”5

—A. JAMES REICHLEY,

POLITICAL SCIENCE SCHOLAR

That is why I believe the University of Virginia had it wrong when it denied funds to the Christian student group while giving them to a wide variety of secular groups. Doing so favored secularism over Christianity, as the Supreme Court rightly found. But Judge Moore, as I will explain shortly, was in the wrong when he tried to display the Ten Commandments in the Alabama judicial building—without any recognition of other religious or secular traditions. Doing so would put Christianity and Judaism, whose traditions include the Ten Commandments, in a favored position over followers of other religions and nonbelievers.

I also believe that the Supreme Court got it right in the case of the Fourniers and the Good News Club. It would not be justice for the school to single out the Good News Club and other religious groups and give them the right to use school classrooms while denying their use to secular groups. If this is so, it is equally unjust for it to single out secular groups and allow them to use school classrooms while denying their use to the Fourniers’ Good News Club and other religious groups. And this is exactly what the Supreme Court decided. Equal treatment is the key. Following this principle is more just than either (1) favoring secular belief systems over Christian and other religious belief systems, as does the strict separationist approach, or (2) favoring Christianity over other religious or secular belief systems, as does the Christian-nation approach.

How can these perspectives be used to think through and react to the many concrete church-state issues that swirl around us? I cannot begin to consider all of these issues, but let’s together consider three of them.

Three Key Issues

Governmental Displays of the Ten Commandments

There are hundreds of displays of the Ten Commandments in government buildings or the land surrounding them—including the Supreme Court building itself. Many see them as a way to recognize the important role the Ten Commandments have played in the development of law and in Western culture more generally. Similarly nativity scenes or Christmas trees at Christmastime and menorahs at the time of Hanukkah are sometimes erected in public places. Some city and state seals contain religious words or symbols. Ought we to see these as innocent, constitutional ways for government to honor religion and the important role it has played in our history?Or do they favor Christianity, Judaism, or religion generally over secular belief systems? Is government being religiously neutral and evenhanded? Is it being just?

The contentiousness of these questions was dramatically revealed in 2005, when the Supreme Court considered two cases dealing with public displays of the Ten Commandments—and ruled in two five-to-four decisions that one was constitutional and one was not!

The display of the Ten Commandments that was held constitutional consisted of a large stone monument that had stood on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol for forty years. It was held constitutional because there were sixteen other monuments on the capitol grounds: ones honoring everything from Texas pioneer women to the Texas cowboy. The Supreme Court held that this display was constitutional because the Ten Commandments display was only one of many different displays. Religion was not being singled out for special honor or recognition.6

But in a second Ten Commandments case decided by the Supreme Court the very same day, it held the display to be unconstitutional. This case came out of Kentucky and involved a display of a framed copy of the Ten Commandments in a county courthouse. The Ten Commandments were a part of a larger display, labeled “The Foundations of American Law and Government.” Also included were framed copies of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the lyrics of the national anthem, the Mayflower Compact, the national motto (“In God We Trust”), the Preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, and a picture of the lady of justice. All were roughly the same size.

Complicating the Kentucky case—and, as it turned out, highly significant for the Supreme Court’s decision—was the fact that the Ten Commandments had first been posted alone. Then, under threat of a lawsuit, the county changed the display to include other historical documents with clear religious messages, such as the opening words of the Declaration of Independence and the national motto. The county changed the display to include both religious and non-religious documents, as described above, only after losing on the lower court level.

Here the Supreme Court held that this posting of the Ten Commandments was unconstitutional. The key was that the county had first put up the Ten Commandments alone and later posted other religious documents that are a part of our heritage, and still later it added some nonreligious documents. As a result the Court ruled that the purpose of the county all along had been to favor religious aspects of our heritage and added documents other than the Ten Commandments only as a cover for their real intent.7

The principle the Supreme Court justices were working to apply in both of these cases is clear: Religious documents and symbols such as the Ten Commandments may be displayed in public places, as long as religion is not being elevated to a favored position. I believe the Court was using the right standard.

That is why I believe Judge Moore and his many supporters—including many evangelicals—got it wrong. To single out the Ten Commandments and honor them for their contribution to the development of law favors the Judeo-Christian tradition over other religious and secular streams of thought that have also contributed to the development of our legal traditions.

But that still leaves the question of whether the Supreme Court got it right in applying that standard in the two 2005 cases. I personally believe that when the Kentucky county finally displayed several religious and secular documents that had contributed to the development of law it got it right, and that is what should have governed the Supreme Court’s decision. Others will disagree.

The Kentucky case clearly teaches that when we Christians seek to introduce our faith into the public realm we need to do so thoughtfully and with due respect for those of other faiths and of none. I fear that sometimes we do so unthinkingly and with a Christian-nation mind-set lurking in the background. Then one easily falls into the error the Supreme Court saw in the Kentucky county: seeking to favor Christianity and then later seeking to cover up its true intent. We ought not to rush in and later figure out if we went about it the right way. Taking the latter path is wrong. We are violating, even if in a minor way, the religious freedom of our non-Christian and nonreligious fellow citizens, and we are setting ourselves up to lose our struggle in the courts. Being salt and light in the public-policy arena requires thought and care, as well as the respect due our fellow citizens.

But there is another issue. Even when we as evangelicals are careful to push for displays of the Ten Commandments or other religious texts or symbols on public land in such a way that no one’s religious freedom is harmed, is it worth going to all the work and effort to do so? Here equally sincere and thoughtful Christians may disagree. Some will argue that it is right and proper—and honoring to God—for our government to recognize the role Christianity has played and continues to play on our nation. To strip the public square of all Christian symbols is to imply that Christianity is of no consequence and our Christian heritage of no significance. Meanwhile, all sorts of secular symbols and events are recognized in the public square. The message being sent—subtly and by default, but nonetheless powerfully—is that religion generally, and Christianity in particular, is of no real consequence in history or today’s world. This, these Christians argue, is factually inaccurate and puts our Christian faith at a disadvantage.

But other Christians have asked another question: Given the continuing poverty in our nation, millions of AIDS orphans in Africa, vicious Christian persecution around the world, the threat of terrorist attacks, and other dire needs at home and overseas, ought we evangelicals spend our time and efforts working to place and defend religious symbols in public places? Ought that to be our top priority?These people would argue that they are glad William Wilberforce and his fellow evangelicals two hundred years ago spent every effort to stop the slave trade and promote more humane policies toward India, not to erect a cross in Hyde Park!

School Prayer

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.” This is a prayer that the New York school authorities had written to be used at the beginning of school days. In 1962 the Supreme Court held it to be an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state. A year later it found that reading from the Bible and reciting the Lord’s Prayer were equally unconstitutional.

These two decisions unleashed a firestorm of criticism that continues. Many evangelical Christians still feel that school prayer is a defining issue. It came to symbolize a broader secularization process in our public schools.

Most evangelical Christians have taken one of three potential positions on school prayer. Some have opposed and others supported each of these positions. There is no one “Christian” position. One of these positions is to work hard to reinstate spoken, teacher-led school prayers. This is usually what is favored by those who argue in favor of “school prayer.” But many Christians see problems with this position.

First, they argue, it favors prayer and therefore religious belief over nonreligious, secular beliefs. In practice most prayer probably would be Christian in a very general, broad sense. Those who oppose such prayers believe it is unjust to impose on the children of nonbelievers and of minority religions prayers that are even vaguely Christian. Second, those who oppose spoken, teacher-led prayers in public schools suggest that those Christians who favor them probably assume that, given the religious makeup of their community, the prayers would be “broadly Christian.” But what if they lived in, for example, an overwhelmingly Muslim school district—and any public school prayers were likely to be offered to Allah while facing Mecca. It is argued that their enthusiasm for school prayer would suddenly take a nose dive! Yet this is the position into which Christian prayers put our Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, pagan, or unbelieving neighbors.

I personally believe that the biblical principles I presented earlier in this book argue against spoken, teacher-led prayers in the public schools. They would not be just because all people would not be treated equally. The children of nonbelievers and members of minority religions would be put at a disadvantage. The welfare of us as Christians, not the common good, would be advanced—except, of course, in schools where the children from Christian families are in the minority, and then they would be put at a disadvantage, which is also wrong. Our solidarity with our neighbors who are not Christian argues against subjecting their children to organized prayers. And our respect for the family as a God-instituted aspect of civil society means we should respect the religious faiths of those families that are not Christian.

However, I also recognize that those who disagree with me on this position have a legitimate, defensible position. Those who argue in favor of spoken, teacher-led prayers in public schools point out that these would be voluntary prayers. Any parents who did not want their children to take part in these prayers could ask that their children be excused from class for the brief prayer time. No one would be forced to pray, and those who wish to take part in the prayer could do so. But would the children excused from class during the prayers by that very act be put in a difficult position, labeled as being “different” by their classmates and perhaps subjected to teasing? Some have argued yes. Others claim such fears are exaggerated.

Here, as will often be the case in the seven chapters that apply the basic biblical principles, there will be disagreements among equally sincere Christians. That is OK. The truly important thing is that they have carefully thought through their position, are seeking to test and apply biblical principles, and are voicing their positions with civility, acknowledging that their position is not the only legitimate one for a Christian to hold. What is not OK is to disagree based on unconcern, unbiblical notions, and unexamined assumptions—and to claim to hold the only possible position a sincere Christian should take.

There is a second possible answer to the issue of school prayer:setting aside a time at the beginning of the school day for silent prayer or reflection. As with the first option, this also has its supporters and detractors. Under this option each student could pray in his or her own way, and non believing students can simply quietly reflect on the coming school day—or even plan their after-school activities.

Those Christians who favor this approach argue that to many students and their families prayer is an important activity, and it should be recognized and honored as such. When all prayer is removed from the schools, these people feel an implicit message is being sent that prayer—and religion more generally—is unnecessary and unimportant, which is the exact opposite of the message many parents want to instill in their children. Other Christians feel that a moment of silence at the beginning of school days is so meaningless that it is not worth working for.

There is a third response to school prayer and the broader question of religion in the public schools. It is to supplement public school education by Christian clubs and activities during non school hours. Recall Stephen and Darleen Fournier and their Good News Club in Milford, New York. This is an example of dedicated Christian believers who did not try to interject their faith into the school curriculum but worked to provide Christian activities and instruction in the school—as a separate, clearly voluntary activity. There are also many other examples of Christian student-led clubs meeting during, after, or before school hours.

The basic principle here is one of equal treatment or equal access. If secular clubs and groups are allowed to meet on school campuses during non-school hours, it is clearly unjust and discriminatory for Christian groups—or other religious groups—to be denied access. The courts have not always, but usually, ruled along these lines.

“To the extent that a religious club is merely one of many different student-initiated voluntary clubs, students should perceive no message of governmental endorsement of religion.”8

—SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE

Other Christians have concluded that such efforts are inadequate substitutes for Christian elements being woven into the school’s curriculum. They have concluded that an informal club or meeting during non school hours is no match for hours of instruction stripped of all religious elements during the school day. Those who favor this third approach—even over a moment of silence at the start of school days—point to the fuller presentation of the gospel that can be achieved in this third approach. They also point out the challenges, if not the impossibility, of integrating Christian elements into the school day in a way that treats justly those of other faiths or of no faith.

Educational Vouchers

Many evangelical Christians are convinced that both a moment of silence and supplemental approaches are inadequate. They desire their children to be taught in school in a way that reinforces and complements what they are being taught in their homes and churches. For them, home schooling or distinctively Christian schools are a necessity.

There are also parents who find their children caught in failing public schools, where they are not learning what they need to learn, are not being stimulated to achieve all that they can, and are not even safe from physical assault and the temptation of drugs. Their God-given human potential is being stifled.

On the K-12 level, many parents in either one of these camps are looking to vouchers as an answer. Under such a program the government provides a voucher worth a certain amount of money available to parents for each school aged child. They can then “spend” that voucher at a private, religiously oriented school or a private, nonreligious school. Milwaukee, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and Florida have programs that roughly fit this description, although all four of these programs are limited in scope, and the Florida program was recently found by Florida courts to be unconstitutional under the state’s constitution. Vouchers could also be used to offset the cost of home schooling one’s children.

When voucher funds are used in Christian and other religiously oriented schools, church-state issues arise. Public tax funds are being used to fund schools that often are very explicitly and intentionally religious in nature. The strict separationist position objects to this. Voucher programs are regularly challenged in the courts. In 2002 the Supreme Court found, however, that under the neutrality or equal-treatment standard a voucher program as practiced in Cleveland, Ohio, does not violate the religious freedom language of the First Amendment. The issue remains controversial. Like Florida, other state courts may find voucher programs a violation of state constitutions.

Christians weighing whether or not to support K-12 voucher programs in their states or school districts face several questions. First, there is the basic question of the injustice of forcing children to attend failing schools. Middle-income parents can usually escape failing schools by buying a house in a school district with strong schools, but parents of modest income often find themselves and their children stuck in an uncaring, unsuccessful school district with no means of escape. Vouchers may be their only hope.

Christian parents who conclude they are fighting a losing battle against the perspectives and values taught in their public schools face the prospect of first paying taxes to support the public schools and also having to pay tuition at a Christian school. Or, if they decide to home school their children, they will have to pay for the public schools and then for the books and materials needed for private instruction. In both cases they may rightly feel that without vouchers public policy is deeply unjust.

But there is also the principle of solidarity. Involved, active parents are a key to responsive, successful schools. If those parents who are most concerned with the education of their children are able to pull their children out of the public schools because of the availability of vouchers, are they living up to their obligation to the broader community? The children who will be left in the schools are those whose parents—due to a lack of education, pressures of single-parenthood and a low-wage job, or simple disinterest—are the least able or likely to influence the schools for good. And if the children of concerned Christian parents leave the public schools, are not the parents abandoning the schools—and their neighbors—to secular forces that will now have a clear field to exert even more influence? Solidarity says we Christians ought to identify with the needs of our fellow citizens and seek to support them in those needs. Vouchers may make a troubling situation in our public schools even worse and those children who are left in them even more vulnerable to secularizing pressures or bad educational situations.

“In sum, the [Cleveland] Ohio program is entirely neutral with respect to religion. It provides benefits directly to a wide spectrum of individuals, defined only by financial need and residence in a particular school district. It permits such individuals to exercise genuine choice among options public and private, secular and religious. The program is therefore a program of true private choice. . . . We hold that the program does not offend the Establishment Clause.”9

—WILLIAM H. REHNQUIST,

SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE

One thing is certain: Christians who support voucher programs must support them for students attending Muslim, Jewish, and private, secular schools, and not only for students attending Christian schools. As I have stressed throughout this book, Christian involvement in public-policy issues must be aimed at the common good and justice for all, not at a better deal for ourselves.

Conclusion

Why did I choose to consider church-state issues in the first of the seven chapters that apply basic biblical principles to actual policy questions? Because they go to what lies at the heart of our attempts as evangelicals to influence public policies. Are we working merely to defend our own religious freedom? Or are we working to defend the religious freedom of our Jewish and Muslim neighbors as vigorously as we are our own? Are we seeking to secure a favored position for our faith in the public realm? Or are we seeking to secure recognition for our faith that is equal to but not greater than that given other faiths and secular systems of belief? If we get the answers to these questions right, we will be in a position to move on to consider the public-policy issues I will consider in the next six chapters.

Education Policy, Home Schools, and Christian Schools

NOTES

Good morning. I’m Professor Cynthia Dunbar, School of Law and I want to talk to you a little bit about education, educational policy, and its connection with the civil government. I’m reminded of a quote by Augustine talks about when he looks back, he looks to the ancients to understand the distinctions between those things which would seem to be alike, which are really different. And the subtle difference that we’ve encountered today in our modern day. What I like to call socialized education policy is the compulsion at the hand of the civil government. The civil government is structured to be the sword tear of those who do evil. It is to promote good at the sanction evil. And instead has become an all-pervasive controlling entity that invades into every part of our lives. What areas that the Founding Fathers originally deemed would be separate and distinct from civil government control. One of the largest areas that they have gained control over, husband, education, educational policy, and trying to create a homogenous society. What I find interesting is that we have moved forward by the secular sacred ideology based upon Play-Doh of dualism and moved away from the Judeo Christian understanding of jurisdiction. And let me break that down for you. In layman’s terminology, the Bible gives us a clear framework for where the civil government is to provide and have jurisdiction or authority. Any area that they go beyond authority is all authority is given by God, becomes raw tyrannical power. It’s the viewpoint that gave the founders the insight to draw a very high barriers from the civil government going beyond into areas of our lives. They deemed inappropriate. It’s the very basis for the establishment of the Bill of Rights saying that Congress shall make no laws. Because it was an understanding that the civil government only got to extend so far and that the remaining areas of jurisdiction where reserved to the states and the people, and specifically to those areas that the Bible talks about personal jurisdiction, familial jurisdiction, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. And this may sound like big words, but basically what that means is those personal areas. The areas such as our religious liberties, where we get to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. It’s a very personal area that we have control over. The founders understood the civil government had absolutely no right to control or invade. The same thing with the millennial jurisdiction, which is simply the brights and the family. The area where the family is to control. The areas where the family is responsible before God. And when we look at that, those also protect our religious liberties. Because Madison, who was known as the father of our Constitution, is the fourth president. He basically detailed very clearly that religion is our duties owed to God. That means we have to understand jurisdictional from the Bible, what duties we owe as individuals, as families, as the corporate body of Christ. And all of those areas were deemed religious and therefore, they were outside the purview of the civil government control. We have now invaded into what we call dualism or the area of predominant secular worldview. And the bigger problem is that not only has society as a whole bought into the secular sacred divide, much of the body of Christ has bought into this ideology of secularism. What secularism does is it teaches that there’s an area, a large area of our day of our life that is separate and distinct from religion or faith. And clearly this ideology is hostile to biblical worldview. The worldview that embraces the ideology and coercions. One verses 16 and 17, that all things were made by and through Christ and for His glory. So there can’t be an area of our lives if we’re going to adhere to a biblical worldview where it is separate and distinct from our faith. And yet that is the very ideology, the very premise they have built our modern day socialized education system upon. Let me break this down for you a little bit further. When we first started having public education as we know it today. And I actually don’t even like to use the term public education because public education could be just community organized where parents and families come together and decide to establish an educational structure and delegate that authority. Biblically they have absolutely the right to do. And that was historically what we saw in our nation until the late 1800s. With a push with Horace Mann for what is now our modern day, compulsory, mandatory tax supported public, governmental education, or what I say for short, are socialized education system. So in that framework and the 1800s, they came forward with the, the premise that citizens could not be good citizens if they were not moral, that they in fact could not be moral if they were not religiously trained. And that they couldn’t be trained in the teachings of the Bible if they were illiterate. This was the whole push back in the 1800s to try and get government to take over control and authority of the education system. Of course, we see how far we have come from that, that original premise. There was a bigger flaw in all of that of healing that authority over to the civil government. And we see that come forward in 1947. Some of the beginning cases dealing with our religious liberties, the no Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Many of them have come out of the socialized education system. And that is because this, there’s an automatic tension that is going to be developed within a compulsory education system as to which type of ideology, worldview, and belief systems are going to be promulgated within the classroom. So in 1947, the landmark case of Eberson versus Board of Education, they were dealing with whether or not the government could take tax dollars and reimburse parents for their expenditures for transportation or getting their children to school. The holding itself was not egregious or to disconcerting. And so I think that kind of flew under the radar as to the impact of this case. But the dicta or the language that the judge is used in this case is very telling. Justice Jackson’s descent talks about the absolute necessary presupposition that is made in order to develop the public education system as we knew it in 1947. And that is this, that there’s a presumption that secular, worldly or temporal education can be separated from religious instruction or ideology. The understanding being that if in fact that premise or presupposition was not correct, then public education as a compulsory, mandatory, tax supported entity at the force of civil government authority, could not stand because it would be an affront to our First Amendment religious liberties. Of course, the justices gloss over that and assume that the presupposition is valid, that we can in fact separate out a pursuit of temporal or what they call worldly knowledge in order to later than determine what our religious beliefs or ideologies will be. Of course, this is again hostile to a true biblical worldview and does not align with our underlie Judeo-Christian tenets upon which our nation was founded. So what happened in ever since they presented the presumption clearly was never addressed. And we move forward into the 1960s with the angle case in the landmark case of Abington V-shaped. An Abington is the case where Madeline Murray O’Hare, of course, brought along with a companion case, a lawsuit to take prayer out of school. And a lot of people have talked about that historically as to the impact of education and its demise shortly thereafter. But what we see in that cases, there’s also a discussion of the same principles the Jackson brought forward in his dissent in ever seen in 1947. And that is again, this, the presumption that we can separate out worldly wisdom, the pursuit of worldly wisdom from our religious beliefs and instruction and ideology. So what has happened is that parents signed over their authority, their responsibility before God, as Madison would say, our duties owed to God, being religious in nature. That they are responsible before God to train up a child in the way they should go. And instead of handing that over to the civil government to be what we would deem more of a Greek state. Parents Patriot ideology, that the government is now the parent responsible for ensuring the education of the children. Not only that, we move forward to more recent Supreme Court cases that started coming out in the seventies That started talking about the absolute need for a primary secular purpose. So what does that mean for educational policy? That everything that’s presented has to have a primary secular purpose. Which again, if that is inherently by definition hostile to a Judeo-Christian belief, then everything that’s presented within socialized education system now necessarily by the court. So neutrality standard has to be hostile to the Judeo-Christian tenets and beliefs. That all things are related to our faith and connected to our praise and worship of Jesus Christ. I kind of agree with Dennis Prager is assessment that when we start talking about secular or worldly wisdom, we’re really talking about an oxymoron because the biblical viewpoint is that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And so for pursuing wisdom in the absence of the fear of the award, then we clearly are not pursuing wisdom. So now we’re in a situation where we have force decades, bought into this faulty premise, faulty presupposition upon which socialized to socialized education is based of the secular sacred divide. And so everything that’s presented within the classroom is now having to be presented with this mystical realm of neutrality. This we neither promote nor inhibit religion where we present, not proselytize, teach, and not indoctrinate, educate, not indoctrinate. This is dictated from Supreme Court cases. But the reality is that that’s impossible. When I sat as an elected member of the Texas State Board of Education. And the reason that’s relevant is because a lot of what’s driving the educational policy is not only governmental policy, the private publishing companies who are going to be driven by the monies that they will make in order to sell, by selling their textbooks. Texas historically was the 800 pound gorilla in this policy establishment. Because basically if the publishers are looking at the jurisdictions that by the greatest number of books, that is Texas or California. California actually needs more books than Texas. But Texas ends up being the controlling force because we can actually pay for ours a lesson in economics and governmental solvency, but that’s for another class. But anyway, we had a 15 member elected board that would be adopting what we know and those in education schools and understand what we call what we call the teeth, which would be the Texas Essential knowledge and skills. It’s the framework of what every child is expected to know in order to gain proficiency, to be advanced. And in that development, what I saw very clearly was an every single issue that we were voting on as a governmental body. We were determining which viewpoints were acceptable. It’s the heightened extreme version of viewpoint discrimination, which is a necessary evil of the government, determining what the majority opinion is going to establish for what is deemed right or wrong. Now, some people waste that will then take it out of the political system handed over to the experts. But that in and of itself is a very dangerous thing as we know, whenever we give over the principles of what is deemed right or wrong to those who are classified the experts, then we can homogenize the society towards a belief system based on simply those people that we are saying have the requisite knowledge, those beliefs and ideologies many times and that being hostile to opposing beliefs and principles. This is the very thing that our founding fathers were trying to avoid. When I was on the board, I ended up doing an interview with Norwegian international radio. And they were talking about the education policy being a political, being political in nature. And said, we don’t do this here in Norway. We, it’s foreign to us. We don’t understand it. We have our appointed expert to determine all the policy of what the children will learn throughout their years of primary and secondary education. And I just explained to them, yes, I understand it’s political and it can become very volatile at times. In America, we believe, to have a select group of people sitting in their ivory towers telling everyone what they have to believe is what leads to things like the Third Reich. Because you do see that when people come into control in a dictatorial type governmental setting, the quickest and fastest way to get there is to control the ideologies and beliefs prevalent within society. And that is why we had our first amendment, not only religious liberties, freedom of speech, and all of that was to allow for dissenting viewpoints without getting into problems of being tried for tyranny or seditious liable. So now what we have is a problem where we have governmental policy being directed that’s mandated to be secular, which is automatically hostile, hostile. And let me break it down for you even to a greater extent. Even if a child is being taken to a school where the teachers are predominantly Christian and they’re not going to be overtly saying anything within the classroom that would necessarily come across is confronting or combative to their faith. The problem is the very structure now, because the government has established it. And the standard of a primary secular purpose is that five days a week. Seven hours a day. Every single month for nine months out of the year, the students are being dropped off with the Understood, known or given that this is the part of your day that is secular or irrelevant for mere faith or your belief in God. It’s only that part of your day where you’re pursuing knowledge and wisdom, your career, and this large section of your life that has no correlation or connection to your faith? It’s no, it’s not surprising that we now have students going through that framework for 13 years of their life coming out, going on to college and all of a sudden questioning their whole basic understanding of their belief system, Bible, and God as they know him to be. Because that framework has been methodically attacked over the course of the years and it’s a necessary thing. What’s the government gets involved in the homogenizing and beliefs in order to not promote one religious ideology over another. We know in fact that this was not something that would be deemed healthy in terms of religious freedoms. When you think back to Jefferson’s morning and admonition that to compel a man to furnish monies for opinions which he does not believe will be sinful and tyrannical. And that is what we have when we have a socialized public education system where the government is now at the force of the sword, commanding everyone to pay in there their dollars to make sure that the public system is funded, even if their beliefs are what are being taught there are contrary to their religious convictions. Now, where does that put us? Well, what are the solutions? How do we deal with this? Especially now when we have the federal government through the unconstitutional Department of Education coming at, what’s going to be taught through Common Core Curriculum, which is about 85 percent of classroom instruction. Well, we need to have is we need to have a resurgence of parents taking back the authority and the responsibility to guide and direct the education of their children. And there’s a whole debate as to what that should look like in terms of vouchers or parental rights. In terms of parental rights, school choice is the first mode and directive to help us make meaningful advancements within educational policy. If the parents will realize that their children’s education ultimately is their responsibility and that they will make wise choices as to the delegation. If we can get tax exemptions through public policy. Where now it’s not a tax voucher where the government’s handing out money, where they still have the strings attached for regulation. But where it’s an exemption if you’re providing an alternative, which would be an alternative such as private education or homeschool in education, where the government is no longer having to pay for educating your children, but you’re taking that responsibility on for your own. And thereby the government’s giving you an exemption from having to pay into that normal socialized pool, then that is one thing that would make us have meaningful efforts towards reclaiming the authority of the parent to educate their child, and also hopefully begin to strip away monopoly that is now known as a socialized public education system.

SYNTHESIS PAPER ASSIGNMENT 2

SYNTHESIS PAPER ASSIGNMENT 2

Synthesis Paper Assignment

Treylesia Alston

September 4,2022

Public Policy Analysis PADM550

Dr. Christopher Sharp

Abstract

The United States Constitution’s founders integrated various biblical principles, which are still relied upon during judicial and political decision-making. Other opinions uphold that the farther people are driven from God, the more their foundation in Christianity will become. The paper aims to discuss biblical principles’ role in governance and policymaking and debate how Christianity, modernism, and postmodernism viewpoints influence these principles. The paper will also investigate what this will mean for the future.

Biblical Concepts

Inalienable Rights

This concept defined the rights important to our personhood and was coined by Thomas Jefferson, the second president of the United States. These alienable rights include the right to liberty, life, and property. According to Jefferson, these rights are inherent to the human being, as provided by Genesis 1:20, which states that God developed this when he granted man control over land, air, and sea. God developed the ten commandments in Exodus 20 to provide man with guidelines to follow. In Acts 10:34, Peter is testifying that God displays no partiality. He used the death of Jesus Christ to show that all men are equal before his eyes. As a result, the government protects these rights to ensure that their people will not be limited to enjoying them because of God (Amos, 1987).

Natural Law

Natural laws are those laws that occur automatically to man as God sets them in place. Thomas Jefferson identified this when he wrote that liberty, life, and the freedom to pursue happiness are the natural laws established by God. He even referenced them to have influenced him when writing down the declaration of independence (Nicgorski, 2011). Therefore, the government should employ natural law to provide an even flow of developed rules and principles.

Institutional Separation of Church and State

This concept has been reflected in the Old Testament and continues even in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that he would become the father of many nations; he portrayed this in the ten commandments and through other books, including Judges and Deuteronomy. In the New Testament, he refers to Christians as ambassadors of Christ. This indicates that people represent the government which is a foreigner in this Universe (2 Corinthians 5:20, ESV). This makes even more sense in the modern world when governments are dispensing their ambassadors to join other governments across the globe. The book of Romans 13:1-7 defines the foundation that all Christians rely on to develop their opinion about government. God desires to understand that he does not belong in this world, but he remains a subject to this world’s leaders for as long as it will not trigger conflicts with their commitment to him. According to God, man will be separated from the world’s government through his devotion to him through Christ.

Covenant/Federalism

A covenant refers to the agreement made between two individuals. When it comes to government, a covenant is defined as the distribution of powers envisioned by the United States government. The American constitution is subdivided into three main branches with different powers, referred to as the separation of powers. Every branch is theoretically equal to other branches, and they play the role of checking one another’s powers and also deploy a system referred to as balances and checks (Fischer, 2020). For this reason, no branch can be assigned excessive influence and power, minimizing the opportunity of ending up with a tyrannical government.

Sin/Crime Distinction

The US government has the right to prosecute and hinder crimes violating another person’s alienable rights. The Church also has a role to play which is to address those sins that are not overturning the laws of man but the body, mind, and soul by the power of God in guidance by the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, this poses many challenges for the Church as they are faced with alterations of policies in the United States (Webber, 2012). The outcome is that what was once viewed as a sin and placed in front of the Church to be solved is supported by few people as these behaviors are becoming acceptable by modern society.

Policy Issue

An example of the policy issue includes the practice of gay marriage in the US, which was prohibited several years ago. However, through the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States supreme court legitimized this marriage, and no executives nor legislative individuals made efforts to stop it (Calabresi, and Begley, 2016). Thus, distorting the line between sin and crime differentiation. The move to ban God from the public sphere by a few Americans appears to be working. Few voices have been left to continue voicing God’s intentions as many of them are made that Christ would view it right to marry a person of the same gender. The people in Church and government have continued to feed people with lies which have resulted in to increment in sins.

Key Enumerated Powers of the Government

The government has jurisdiction over executing actions since the constitution empowers it to do so. The constitution empowers leaders to do this because it has been permitted by the people who have acquired authority from God. The US government is divided into the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches. The president is part of the executive, and its role is to enforce the roles proposed by the congress (legislature). The legislature’s role is to make laws and is divided into two branches, namely the senate, which is made up of 100 senators, two from every state, and the second one is the representatives. The role of the representatives is to hold meetings and discuss ideas while making decisions that will become laws. The United States has 435 representatives, whose number varies depending on the population of the region, where some states can have only two representatives while others have as many as forty. On the other hand, the judiciary’s role is to make constitutional decisions on federal laws and resolve other disputes about the laws.

World Views Comparison

The US is one of the nations that is changing rapidly. The opinion of the postmodern is not dominant, but it speaks the loudest. Postmodern is a relatively confusing term; some believe it means anti-modern, while others view it as a revision of modernist enterprises. Modernism has fallen prey within the political arena of the United States, particularly to the influences of the Church on the so-called religious rights, which have been undermined widely in recent times. The Christian viewpoint, also known as the biblical worldview, is defined as a network of beliefs and ideas through which an individual, culture, or group interacts with the world.

For this reason, the Christian opinion about the world comprises numerous biblical elements. A good example is when people uphold that the election of Donald Trump was a rebuke of the postmodern era by the silent religious majority. The reason for this is that he did not carry the popular votes but carried the electoral votes, leaving the silent majority out of the picture.

References

Amos, G. T. (1987). Biblical Principles of Government: America, A Case Study. 
Class materials and readings.

Calabresi, S. G., & Begley, H. M. (2016). Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Chief Justice John Roberts’s Dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges. 
Elon L. Rev., 
8, 1.

Fischer, K. J. (2020). Biblical Principles of Government and Criminal Justice. 
Liberty University Journal of Statesmanship & Public Policy, 
1(1), 3.

Nicgorski, W. (2011). Cicero and the natural law. 
The Witherspoon Institute.

Webber, P. M. (2012). 
An Examination of the Validity of the American Revolution In the Light of Scripture and English Law (Doctoral dissertation, Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Mankato, MN).

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