The Parade of Privilege: How Government Favors Religion (Privilege #6: Sabotaging Secular Education)

Luis Granados, director of the AHA’s publishing house, Humanist Press, responds to the Catholic bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom, a 14-day campaign which, according to the Washington Post, “purports to champion religious freedom, but in actuality distorts it by promoting the use of religion as a license to discriminate.”

Religious Privilege #6: Sabotaging Secular Education

The only way religion can survive is by constant brainwashing of impressionable young minds. It’s a rare bird indeed who is raised without religious indoctrination, then after reaching the age of reason looks at the evidence, slaps his forehead and says “Of course! A Trinity! It must be so.”

America’s bishops fought a bitter battle for decades against secular education, sternly admonishing the faithful that it was the gravest of mortal sins to send their children to public schools when a parochial school was available. They lost, in large part because sending a child to a public school is free, while sending a child to a parochial school is not.

Now God experts are taking a different tack by getting taxpayers (religious and nonreligious alike) to foot the bill for sending children to religious schools. In places like Arizona, a “tuition tax credit” is now in place, allowing any taxpayer to choose to redirect $500 of his or her state tax payment to a private religious school instead. As you might imagine, Christian fundraisers are all over this one. “With Arizona’s scholarship tax credit, you can send children to our community’s [religious] day schools and it won’t cost you a dime!” exclaims one outfit. Another urges potential donors to “imagine giving with someone else’s money. … Stop imagining, thanks to Arizona’s tax laws, you can!” Since 1998, Arizonans have “given” away nearly $350 million of someone else’s money. In Ohio, 96% of the students benefiting from a taxpayer-funded voucher program wind up in religious schools. Similar programs are surging forward in Missouri, Virginia, and Florida.

At many of these taxpayer-funded schools, students are taught as scientific fact that God created the world in seven days, six thousand years ago. Even in public schools, many teachers and administrators are so cowed by militant Christians that the subject of man’s origin is simply ignored as being too controversial. In other places, like Louisiana, religiously-inspired legislation promotes the teaching of alternatives to scientifically demonstrated evolution under the guise of critical thinking. Students at Louisiana Christian schools next fall will be taught that the existence of the Loch Ness monster helps prove that the theory of evolution is false.

Christians argue that evolution is just a “theory” and that the creationism theory is just as valid. In reality, the “theory of evolution” is on a par with the “theory of gravity,” which was also condemned by the God experts when Newton first published it. Anyone who doesn’t believe there is sufficient proof for either should try a little experiment, like stepping off the edge of a roof, to be followed, in quick succession, by anyone who truly believes that American government at all levels doesn’t bend over backwards to accommodate the most absurd forms of religion.

Visit the American Humanist Association’s Facebook page every day beginning June 26 where we counter the Catholic bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom by posting a special privilege experienced only by churches in the United States.