The US Education System And Religious Freedom


6a010536b44350970c015390e684a3970b-320wi

Something to ponder from:

Dennis O’Donovan

Excuse me for not putting all of the citations for what I am about to write, but I don’t think anyone cares about them anyway, so here goes. (By the way, if pressed for time, be sure to read the last few paragraphs).

I’m all for religious freedom, not just for me and my immediate family, but for everyone. Here’s proof.

A few years ago, the following came before the Supreme Court, as separate cases, of course. 1) the prison regulations somewhere stated that the male inmates could not have beards, ostensibly for security reasons. The Muslims took the issue to the Supreme Court and won. Beards for everyone. 2) the prison regulations somewhere stated that the prisoners had to be served food, but not necessarily Kosher food for the Orthodox Jewish inmates. An orthodox Jewish inmate, or maybe even two or more, (does the number really matter?) took the case before the Supreme Court and won. Kosher food for everyone who wants Kosher food. 3) In Florida, there is a law against animal cruelty. A Santeria minister was ordered to stop slaughtering animals on his alter during Santeria services. The case went before the Supreme Court. Santeria won.

Now it’s my understanding that each of the petitioners in the cases mentioned above won based on religious freedom. None of the laws served enough of a “compelling government interest” to override the Constitutional right to exercise their religious beliefs.

Now let’s go to any part of what is presently the United States of America from the time of the first Pilgrim to the present. It has been a non-stop fight for Catholicism from the word “go”. And quite frankly, I am getting tired of it.

Catholics aren’t demanding beards. We’re not demanding kosher food. We’re not even demanding we be permitted to slaughter animals on the altar during Mass. All I am demanding, at least for the moment, is the right to choose the schools our children will attend without having to pay approximately $115,000, in today’s dollars, for each one of our children who attends a Catholic school from pre k through 12.

We are claiming that religious freedom guarantees the right to choose the schools our children will attend – including religious schools – without $115,000 being paid again in today’s dollars via taxes of many kinds for each child. This double payment violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.

Here is a teaching from the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding education:

2229 As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.38 Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.

The United States Supreme Court addressed this issue indirectly in a 1925 case known as Pierce v. Society of Sisters. In 1922, the State of Oregon amended its Compulsory Education Act to say that all school age children must attend public schools. The Catholic Nuns did not like that. They won 9-0. Here is a portion of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion:

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (End of excerpt).

When you think of school tuition, envision each child paying his own. Assume he begins paying at age twenty-two the taxes that go for education. If he works until age seventy-two, and trust me, he will, he will have paid for fifty years for a fourteen year pre k – 12 education for himself. I think that’s plenty and that his parents should choose his school on his behalf as the Supreme Court stated in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925):

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (End of excerpt). Yes, I know I posted that excerpt twice. It’s important.

So how will anything change? When will this nation begin following the Constitution as the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause applies to religious freedom? Will it be through the efforts of the ACLU – you know, the Anti-Christian Liberty Union? I don’t think so.

I think an entity such as the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has to prepare an iron clad case for this and parents in all fifty states must bring it before the state courts. Through either courts deciding differently throughout the nation, or all going against religious liberty, the case will certainly eventually go before the Supreme Court. After they make their decision, we will know if there actually is religious liberty in the United States or not.

So remember, the Muslims wanted their beards and the Constitution guaranteed their right to them. The Jewish inmates wanted their Kosher food and the Constitution guaranteed their right to it. Those who practice Santeria wanted the right to slaughter animals on the altar during their services and the Constitution guaranteed their right to do it. Now Catholics are simply saying our Constitution guarantees us the right to parental choice in the education of our children without having to pay twice and this is confusing? The Supreme Court ruled in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) that school vouchers as done in Ohio and used at religious schools don’t violate the Establishment clause. They are Constitutional. The Supreme Court ruled in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) that a state cannot standardize its children by forcing them to attend public schools. So what happens to those whose parents cannot afford to pay to have their children in other schools? We have religious freedom. School vouchers are constitutional. The state cannot standardize its children. Muslim prisoners have a constitutional right to beards. Jewish prisoners have a constitutional right to Kosher food. A Santeria minister has a constitutional right to slaughter animals during religious services. And although an innocent child will pay for education all of his adult life – probably fifty years – his mother cannot choose the schools he will attend? What in the hell is going on? Have we gone completely crazy as a Nation? If any, what part does anti-Catholicism play in all of this?

CONTINUING:

This post gives an historical example of how public schools have infringed upon religious freedom since their origin. In this case, it became national news when elementary school boys pushed back. The difference between then and now is that no one is pushing back.

I suppose every year has a few happenings that are very memorable. For me, 1859 has three that I think are very important for my own reasons. The Eliot School rebellion is one of them; the publishing of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species is another, and I will post about the third one in a little while.

Eliot School rebellion
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Eliot School rebellion was a 19th-century incident that played a significant role in the debate over what kind of Christian instruction would be available in American public schools and sparked the establishment of Catholic parochial schools nationwide.

The incident began on a Monday morning, March 7, 1859. Massachusetts law required that the Ten Commandments be recited in every classroom every morning. Bible passages were also required to be read aloud. On March 7, a teacher at the Eliot School in Boston, Miss Sophia Shepard, called on ten-year-old Thomas J. Whall to recite the Ten Commandments. Whall refused because he was Catholic and Shepard insisted that the Commandments be recited as written in the Protestant King James Bible.[1]

The following Sunday at St. Mary’s Parish Sunday School, Whall was among the several hundred boys who heard Father Bernardine Wiget, a Swiss-born Jesuit and an enthusiastic ultramontane, urge them not to recite Protestant prayers lest they fall into “infidelity and heresy.” On Monday, March 14 Shepard again called upon Whall and he again refused. The assistant principal, McLaurin F. Cook,[2] was called. Saying “Here’s a boy that refuses to repeat the Ten Commandments, and I will whip him till he yields if that takes the whole forenoon,” he beat Whall’s hand with a rattan stick for 30 minutes until it was cut and bleeding. The principal then told all boys who intended to refuse to recite the King James version of the commandments to leave the school. One hundred boys left that day. Three hundred left the following day. Some boys reported to school with copies of the Vulgate Commandments that they were willing to recite, but they were refused admittance.[1]

The incident attracted intense national interest.[1][3] Charges of assault and battery brought against Cook by the boy’s father were dismissed on the grounds that religious instruction was a proper function of public school teachers.[2]

According to historian John McGreevy of the University of Notre Dame, the incident sparked the creation of Catholic parochial schools both in Boston and nationwide.[1][4] In Boston, St Mary’s Parish created a primary school to educate the boys who had withdrawn from the Eliot School. First called St. Mary’s Institute, and later named in honor of Father Wiget, the school enrolled 1,150 boys in the 1859-60 school year.[1]

References[edit]
^ Jump up to: a b c d e Catholicism and American Freedom, John McGreevy Norton and Co., New York 2003, p. 1-15, 42.
^ Jump up to: a b Ryan, Dennis P. (1979). Beyond the ballot box: a social history of the Boston Irish, 1845-1917. ScholarWorks, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. p. 59.
Jump up ^ “The Eliot School Difficulty at Boston Ended,” March 23, 1859, New York Times.
Jump up ^ History of the Catholic Church in the New England States, William Byrne, vol. 1, Hurd & Everts co., 1899, p. 128.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reflections, Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s