American children, and their parents for that matter, should be thankful they live in a nation that prohibits religious indoctrination in the public school system. In many Islamic countries, the government forces religious instruction on every student using taxpayer money that is just the price those poor people pay for living in a harsh theocracy controlled by religious extremists.
Of course, the religious leaders in countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and many others assert that “faith plays an important role in shaping the lives of young people,” and their justification for forcing religion on students is because “god has a purpose for each and every one of them (students) and we’re helping them find it.” That is the case in wide swathes of Syria and Iraq where the Islamic State (ISIS) closed down “infidel schools” and forced teachers to undergo religious instruction training or lose funding, and likely their lives, unless they learn to teach religious extremism. Many Americans are likely thinking, “thank dog we live in America where that kind of religious edict is illegal and un-constitutional,” but they would be wrong in thinking America is not on pace to become a harsh religious theocracy.
Obviously, there are Christian extremists in America who believe, like the Islamic State extremists, that it is the government’s duty to force religious instruction on public schools, and this week, Ohio Governor John Kasich made that “religious extremist duty” mandatory in Ohio. Kasich issued a statement through a spokesman informing Ohio schools that if they fail to align with Christian organizations, they will lose funding. It should disabuse any American of the idea that this sad country is exceptional; unless they consider theocracy a la ISIS exceptional.
A new mentoring program funded with taxpayer dollars requires ALL Ohio school districts to become partners with a faith-based organization (church) and a corporation in order to have access to the public school money. The initiative is the brain-child of religious Republican Governor John Kasich and provides funding to mentor at-risk students, but only if the schools allow a church and corporation to control the program. According to the initiative, “failure to incorporate a faith-based non-profit (Christian church) will eliminate a school district’s eligibility for the taxpayer funding.”
When asked why Kasich is forcing public schools to spend taxpayer money for incorporating religion in schools, his spokesman said, “The governor believes faith-based organizations play an important role in the lives of young people. The Good Lord has a purpose for each and every one of them and we’re helping them to find it.” And, any Ohio district that thinks for a second that using taxpayer dollars to insert religion in public schools is wrong will not get funding. ISIS leaders would be proud of Kasich because there are no exceptions according to one of Kasich’s theocratic advisors. The United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson said if any school district expects taxpayer dollars for their program, “You must include a faith-based partner.”
Another one of Kasich’s theocratic underlings, and senior policy analyst for the Ohio Department of Education, Buddy Harris, broke the good news to a gathering of church representatives that they are now firmly entrenched in, and will soon control, public education. He said that any school district’s application for taxpayer money must include a corporation and place of worship in its partnership. According to Harris, any “partnership” that dares exclude a faith-based group (church) will not qualify for public school tax dollars because “faith is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor.” Translation; religion runs the program with corporations, and schools are subject to oversight of the “senior partners.”
Kasich’s theocratic initiative is part and parcel of the religious right fundamentalists’ “Onward Christian Soldier” campaign to eradicate “deviant schools and replace them with institutions that will propagate Christian family values by issuing government edicts that all education will be handed over to the church,” and funded with taxpayer dollars. It is now the law in Ohio that joins several other religious Republican states using taxpayer dollars for public schools for Christian religious instruction in private, charter, and public schools.
Sadly, since the Vatican-5 on the Supreme Court deconstructed and demolished the Establishment, Separation, and Free Exercise clauses in the First Amendment, there is little redress for any American opposed to their child suffering religious indoctrination against their will. Despite the, soon to be abolished, provision that public school dollars could not be used to pay churches to control curriculum and indoctrinate students, Republican governors and legislatures across the nation are violating the provision with impunity. Like the Internal Revenue Service’s abject fear of challenging evangelical clergy violating their 501 c tax-exempt status by campaigning from the pulpit, the Department of Justice, state and federal, are terrified of enforcing the law because of the unwritten mortal sin prohibiting challenging evangelical Christians.
In states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, to name but a few, Republicans are blatantly funneling public school money into religious instruction with impunity. In Louisiana, for example, the State Supreme Court ruled that religious Governor Bobby Jindal’s scheme of diverting public school funding to private religious schools is “unconstitutional and violates the Louisiana Constitution.” However, since Jindal refuses to acknowledge that the state, or federal, Constitution has supremacy over theocratic edicts, the taxpayer dollars continue flowing freely for religious instruction.
In fact, across America, taxpayers are spending over $1 billion on religious instruction in public charter schools alone with no government accountability due to the official terror of violating that despicable “unwritten mortal sin.” It is that government fear of theocrats that empowered Ohio Governor Kasich to force public schools to “partner with” churches to qualify for taxpayer dollars for public schools; or in Ohio’s case, corporate Christian madrassas.
If any American believed this nation is not rushing toward an ISIS-like theocracy, with apparent government support, they have been in a coma. Kasich’s move is the most blatant sign to date that the U.S. Constitution, or Founders’ intent, prohibiting religious control of the government or public education was a nice idea that will likely be as extinct as secular schools are in Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.