Jun 22, 2022Liked by Abdul El-Sayed

Thanks for being on this immediately, Abdul. I don't feel like expounding on what happens when religions are funded by governments - it's just all too bleak. I will suggest that your readers who want to be part of an organization that fights this ongoing erosion of secular democracy join Americans United for Separation of Church and State, au.org. I've belonged for many years, and have benefited directly and indirectly by their education and advocacy. For a quick sense of what they're about, check out their FAQ's: https://www.au.org/about-au/faqs/

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There might be alternative solutions for isolated students to get to school. For example, I grew up in a rural hilly area on a farm about three miles from the tiny town with a high school. There were four school buses that fanned out before and after school to deliver children. It took each of the buses over an hour to complete their routes. In the winter when the buses couldn't get through the ice and snow, the school made arrangements for nearby families such as ours to take in the very isolated kids for the season. After the snow and ice melted, there was a lot of mud inhibiting the buses, so the winter-into-spring got kind of long for the kids who missed their parents. The plan worked just fine, and the Supreme Court didn't have to get involved.

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I say Amen Brother. You are spot on once again.

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First thought that came to mind is the mind explosion on conservatives when an Islamic community in Maine decides to have their own school!

However, I don't think we can say it took a sledgehammer.

Maine was funding private schools. Maine was basically telling people "here's money to send your kid to private school as long as it isn't sectarian or religious based." (New Hampshire has a similar funding system and may well need to alter it to comply with this ruling). Even as an atheist, it seems discriminatory.

Some 30-ish states give vouchers/tuitionor tax money to parents to send their kids to school. These states may all have to revise their approach.

Now keep in mind I don't want ANY public tax money going to private schools at all. Michigan's constitution explicitly says no public tax money can go to private schools (secular or sectarian).

I think this is a more narrow ruling than people. But the root of the entire system was the lack of public school support by various governments for decades and private & religious activists to exploit that to achieve their aims.

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It would be rather interesting to see what would happen if a Muslim or Hindu private school were to apply for funding. I do have to say that I went to public schools in the 70's and I took a comparative religions class. I still think today that it was a well done class. We examined the teachings of all the major religions. And the instructor encouraged us to visit different places of worship before choosing one of our own. I was also really surprised when I took a job with a "county hospital". I had previously only worked in Catholic healthcare systems. I found the county hospital so much more respectful and supportive of people of all religions than the Catholics were. It was a noticeable difference.

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As usual, thank you for the insightful analysis and commentary. I look forward to reading everything you write and publish.

I do have some polite pushback if you could clarify two of your arguments:

1) You wrote: "Indeed, it’s worth imagining what might happen if a Muslim or Hindu school were to receive funds under the exact same ruling. It’s almost needless to say that proponents of this ruling would try to find ways to exclude these schools."

I know this is dependent on details that are perhaps best left for another article, but how would Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish schools be excluded? How do we know that that's the case?

2) Regarding the two paragraphs in the article:

The second major flaw is that it leverages the state’s power to tax to compel people who otherwise would not support religious education to do exactly that. Indeed, there are going to be many people in Maine who do not agree with the teachings of private religious schools who are now going to be paying for them.

In forcing taxpayers to pay for religious education, the Court will infringe upon the religious liberties of those taxpayers now required to fund religious education with which they may not agree — they will, in effect, be forced to pay alms to religious institutions with which they disagree."

Isn't this the case for public schools as well that we pay for with our taxes? No educational institution for children in this country is devoid of a religious or moral reference point, as we see in the secular and materialist approach to teaching science in public schools, as well as psychology, sociology, world religions, history, etc. Morality as it's referenced and taught in English and Lit courses is not devoid of an epistemological framework, it's just not Islamic, Christian, etc. It still certainly carries religious connotations, as many fields of science cannot truly be taught without philosophical baggage.

While it may not be "organized religion", it's still religious and of great concern to many Americans whose tax dollars are funding the teaching of different issues in public schools today, anything from gender and sexuality to political science and psychology. It's not one or two issues that religious adherents are concerned with anymore, such as evolution or the origins of the universe. Taxpayers unfortunately don't choose how their tax dollars are spent when it comes to education (and foreign policy and other matters), and while this recent Supreme Court ruling is concerning to me, the concern is because of the political agendas behind it and the "us or them" climate the two-party system has pushed on most Americans. I'm definitely open to hearing and reading more in coming months about how this ruling is problematic, but I didn't quite see how the arguments in the article (and maybe I missed something!) are consistently applied to all religious worldviews in this country.

Thanks again!

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