James R. Otteson Quote

“If it would be wrong for the government to adopt an official religion, then, for the same reasons, it would be wrong for the government to adopt official education policies. The moral case for freedom of religion stands or falls with that for freedom of education. A society that champions freedom of religion but at the same time countenances state regulation of education has a great deal of explaining to do.”

~ James R. Otteson

Ratings and Comments

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Anon    1/15/09

True but you can't get them to sit down and explain because they can't be bothered with the lowly questioning their expert authority and monopoly over education when in truth they are the ignorant and prideful Pharisees of modern day.

KrlyQ, Irving, TX

So true!!

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

Freedom OF religion does not mean freedom FROM education, and today there already is freedom OF education, just not freedom FROM education... attend any school your parents choose, even do homeschooling, but that does not mean that it should be paid for by society when your parents choose a non-secular society provided education.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Great idea! Thank God in the USA the people, the community run the schools and keeps it free and diverse. Free from censorship, undue interference but thought control institutions like church, and state. In every state and community children learn about their local history. The diversity of public education is one of its greatest assets, from its diverse student population to the diversity of its teachers. Not like private education where the students are chosen based on the religion or preference of their parents, based on their social or wealth status of their families, and the teachers are selected the same way including political persuasions. Public education is the freest form of education in the country. Like democracy many dislike it because it does not directly reflect their religion, opinons, or politics but those of "all of us". In short is free in more ways than one.

Liberty, Virginia

AMEN. Priceless quote. Anonymous from Reston Va, I think the distinction between religion and education needs to be explained. When the schooled take it upon themselves to infer moral standards, beliefs about ultimate reality and the like, then you've got a belief system as defined by the State as what's correct. A belief vacuum cannot exist. Therefore, it would follow that just as you are allowed to be free to worship as you please, you should be able to learn and teach your children as you please. Now, if you don't agree with the latter part of that statement, then you likely have issues with the former part.

Mike, Norwalk

Liberty, well said. Waffler, you've made me smile again, I don't know what parallel universe you are from but (-;hmmm;-). Secularists, Humanists, Atheists, etc. have to redefine 'Religion' so that they may permeate public education with their dogmas and have exclusive access to public funds (being a proselytizing religion(s) of force). Further, all competing religious thought, beliefs, philosophy, etc. must be banned.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Public schoolers all have their various and diverse religions, philosphies, and politics. Nothing is banned except none of these is taught. They are free to get it elsewhere! Those who attend religious, philosophical or politcal based schools will get what they predetermine they want and nothing else. So much then for the idea of an education of discovery that public education provides. But that is waht home schoolers and church schoolers want a locked stepped education process for their children. The proof is on this site the other day where most want a locked step use of the Kings English, without any deviant forms like street talk, or regional usages etcetera. You are all for freedom Mike as like as you get to dictate curricula and style.

A.WOODS, Gloucester

Professor Otteson raises an interesting point, but I must be missing something. When I am in biology classes the instructors are not required to tell me on which day someone's god created the fossils. Is this an example of state regulation of education? I would say so, and I'm grateful for it. In my admittedly limited experience, the only government policies that have affected my education are the ones that required and allow me to go to school, and permit me to learn science in science class. Our Constitution in general, in this case the first amendment in particular, appears to be protecting me from the kind of regulation Professor Otteson refers to. At the same time, the idea that standardized test results can carry so much weight in determining the level of government funding a school system receives is absurd. I've heard public school educators report having to abandon the curriculum for weeks at a time in order to coach the students to pass the tests. In this case government regulation is interfering with education, and it has no connection with Congress not making laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. I would appreciate it if anyone here could explain the state regulations of education Professor Otteson is concerned with. Thank you.

  • Reply
RBESRQ    1/15/09
Robert, Somewhere in the USA

A poor analogy!

Ronw13, Oregon

The Moral case for freedom of religion and freedom of education. If a nation once established upon a philosophical and spiritual foundation of independence and moral responsibility Setting the individual at Liberty, it would be imperative that the overthrow of said nation be through the educational system already established. Secular humanist empirical science stands in doubt and theory seeking to replace or destroy the moral natural fiber that binds the American Patriots of Liberty together, One nation under God who has blessed use with " Inalienable Rights." not of man but of our Creator, the God of Abraham. Now that might seem to some hard to grasp, but after many, many years of indoctrination of socialism and the slave mentality, it is no wonder there are riots in the streets. Debased, made reprobate through instilled denial of moral responsibility to oneself and neighbor, creating doubt through ignorance perpetuating violence.

E Archer, NYC

When a curriculum is dogmatic rather than a dialogue, it matters not whether it is religious or secular, it is indoctrination. Do I go to school to study and explore, or am I merely following a program of someone else's design?

The secularists do have a valid argument against religious education -- just as in Galileo's time, when observable science threatened long-held beliefs and the organized Church would not/could not acknowledge the truth of the newly discovered science or history, the student was faced with a choice of rejecting that which threatens tradition or being rejected by the religious community upon which fellowship he depends.

The Church has had to concede to a great many scientific discoveries or risk losing credibility. Particularly Christianity -- "the truth shall set you free" being a foundational pillar, the search for truth and being truthful are key tenets of the religion. So either the religion can integrate new discoveries in science and history or it is simply riding on the indoctrinated, who will eventually pass away taking their customs with them.

But today, as Mike so eloquently puts it, the secularists have merely become a new 'theocracy' of 'settled science' -- any challenge to their sacred cows is considered a violation of their rights. Like the religions of old, the secularists have become a power unto themselves, placing themselves as 'gods' to rule over the 'common good' of the poor and weak. It is the same old con for giving up one's power! Ruling the people is a very OLD racket, and the NEW theocracy follows the tried and true practices of the OLD theocracies and the monarchies which supported them.

The 'liberal' argument against the religious right was very valid 50 years ago, and the Churches holding the hard right have been losing numbers. But progressive liberals holding the hard left are now feeling the brunt of their own ignorance. They are skewing the scientific observations to suit their theories. They say that the science is settled -- science is NEVER settled, ask Stephen Hawking who has given up trying to prove black holes exist because he can't.

I've attended private schools and public schools in different parts of the country. I've educated my children in private, public, and home-schools. The learning occurs in the dialogue -- without that, it is just broadcasting, and McDonald's jingles will beat out the Pythagorean theorem every time.

Note that ALL of the ivy league universities were originally religious seminaries. The American system of jurisprudence is based on canonical law -- from the Roman Catholics. A Jesuit education had been considered the best education you could get for a thousand years -- and they did not reject science.

American public/government schools have an entirely different agenda than promoting discovery and enlightenment -- they are doing exactly what they blamed the religious right for doing -- teaching dogma and ideology rather than free thought, reason, and honest dialogue. They are employment centers for their theocratic and unionized class -- living off of government checks rather than the payments of their clients (the students); they answer to no one but the political bosses of the day.

And children KNOW they are being fed a bunch of crap -- just like the kids in the religious schools when questions about the age of the universe surface.

The search for Truth remains an individual endeavor. It has never been packaged ready-made to turn over to another -- sure there are millions of books and some classics everyone should read -- but an honest inquiry creates a placeholder for the discovery to come. Without asking the question, someone giving you the answer has no place to put it. ;-)

A good education requires an honest inquiry. A person with a lot of questions who will not be easily distracted from his/her pursuit will uncover many secrets of the universe. Sharing them is the education of the future. The Truth is always in front of me; the only opposition to it is what I bring ... ;-)

Mike, Norwalk

Morals, ethics, and the principles thereof are that which defines an individual's religion. It is immoral to rape and terrorize. Without religion, such moral doesn't exist and/or - different morals / different religions. Law describes that which "IS" without morals, ethics or the principles thereof. For example: Gravity, physics, fiscal law, etc. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing or caring for the sick, housing the homeless, financing the indigent, legislating from the bench or elsewhere religious sacraments such as marriage, enforcing religious principles such as birth control, becoming a religious hegemony (national establishment of religion) by mandating limits what can be preached over other religion's pulpits (for example 501 (c) (3) are all tenets of religion. When religion mingles with a lawful administration, a theocracy results. The occupying statist theocracy infesting this land has abandoned a government of law while it enslaves with its national establishment of religion's canons, intimidation, and violence. The government has adopted a national religion, it just hasn't given it a name yet. Waffler, even with his extremely misguided conclusion does hit on a valid point, and that is, government (a statist theocracy) has absolutely adopted official education policies that do not allow religious doctrines outside its own progressive theology - no such heresy may enter its hallowed theocratic seminaries (government schools)

Robert, Somewhere in the USA

Archer and Mike, even though I'm an atheist, I always respect your comments, as they are heartfelt and honest. Take care and keep up the good work you do..., Robert

E Archer, NYC

Robert, I consider you a fellow journeyman on the same road. It is an honor to walk with you. Cheers.

Mike, Norwalk

Robert, over the years I guess we've described ourselves fairly sufficiently. I think that I am clearly the hardcore, bible thumping, dyed in the wool Christian here in this trio. It is truly my privilege to place my comments next to yours and Archers. From my perspective, all are equal before the law and bask equally in our Father-in-Heaven's love. As to the individual, integrity of being is that which speaks from the heart and I am glad to have seen your heart.


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