Religious or Christian School Vouchers?
Thanks for reading my inaugural blog post for the Religious Herald! My name is Andrew Gardner and I am a graduate of The College of William and Mary (’12) and current graduate student at Wake Forest School of Divinity (’15).
As a former intern with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, I am very interested with issues of religion in the public arena. Hopefully readers will find the stories I post interesting, and my commentary insightful. If nothing else, hopefully my posts will keep readers “in the know.” While these issues are often difficult and frustrating, I hope that I have conveyed a tone of patience and charity in my writing. Likewise, I hope readers will show me the same courtesy.
This week a couple of stories dealing with religion and schools have caught my attention.
Posting the Ten Commandments – Any Way Possible
The Roanoke Times reported recently that after a long battle in the courts Giles County, Virginia has finally reached a settlement regarding a Ten Commandments display at Narrows High School. The county school board and the plaintiff, an anonymous student, have compromised to allow a framed History textbook page that references the Ten Commandments “without quoting them verbatim.”
The story was originally found posted by Howard Friedman on religionclause.blogspot.com
The compromise in this case strikes me as confusing. A history textbook page? Are my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ so committed to displaying the Ten Commandments in school that they would frame a page from a history text book that includes a reference to the Ten Commandments? Are they going to pull out a yellow highlighter to make sure people know which section from the text is cause for the page being framed?
I guess it is obvious that the display was and is intended to educate students about the “Christian” influences on the United States. Or is it really a half-hearted attempt to witness to the unchurched? Are we now finished because we have the 10 Commandments displayed throughout our schools? Maybe we could try putting up a sign that says “Jesus loves you” and then we would never have to talk to anyone about Jesus again. Our ministry would be complete.
I have trouble understanding why we are so concerned about posting the Ten Commandments everywhere. Posting the Ten Commandments in public schools will not bring anyone to Christ. It will not teach children a heightened moral standard. It will not magically turn the school into a Judeo-Christian utopia. It will not make people think the United States is a Christian Nation.
I am inclined to think that the only thing it will do is make us look like we do not care about the minority – about those who feel alienated and discomforted by the posting of the Ten Commandments. That just does not seem very Christian to me.
Religious (Christian) School vouchers
This week Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has come under fire for his educational reform that allows for low and middle income students to receive vouchers to attend public schools. Of the approved private schools that may accept state vouchers, many are Christian schools. One such school, The New Living Word School, “has no library, and students watch instructional DVDs that filter lessons through Biblical verses.” Another approved school teaches that the Loch Ness Monster is real.
For more on this story click here.
It is truly a wonderful thing that the leaders of the state of Louisiana are attempting to reform their education system. Unfortunately, I might suggest they remain focused on their own public schools rather than funneling money and students to private religious schools.
It makes me wonder, why we Christians want or even need the Government supporting our schools. Do we lack the ability to support these schools on our own? Do we have more faith in the Government to fund our parochial schools than God? Are we Fully Relying On God (F.R.O.G.) or are we Favoring Reliance On Government? If a low to middle income child wants to attend a private religious school, why do we need the Government’s help to let them attend? Could a local church subsidize their tuition?
I think, however, that the real issue at hand with school vouchers comes into full view with the recent comments by Louisiana House member Valerie Hodges. It appears that Mrs. Hodges did not think that private Islamic schools would have the opportunity to participate in the voucher program. Mrs. Hodges voted in favor of the bill because she assumed that the only religious schools that would be considered for the program would be Christian.
All I can think to say to Mrs. Hodges is Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee For Religious Liberty Brent Walker’s Golden Rule of Church-State Relations – “I must not ask government to promote my religion if I do not want government to promote someone else’s religion; I must not permit government to harm someone else’s religion if I do not want the government to harm my religion.”
If you have a story that you think people need to hear about, feel free to let me know. Email me at email@example.com