Religion is a Feature, Not a Flaw

"Religion is a Feature, Not a Flaw" by Josh Holdenried at First Things

Aug 4, 2022

A lot of ink is spilled on the separation of church and state. But much of it is wrong. The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the United States Constitution, nor are public expressions of faith tantamount to theocracy. The First Amendment exists in part to protect religious freedom while preventing the establishment of a national church. The amendment’s recognition of religious freedom as our first unalienable right also suggests there is something important about religion. In a series of recent decisions, the United States Supreme Court invites us to recall that truth, and recognize that religion is a feature, not a flaw, of our national life.

Religion is a Feature, Not a Flaw by Josh Holdenried at First Things. A lot of ink is spilled on the separation of church and state. But much of it is wrong. The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the United States Constitution, nor are public expressions of faith tantamount to theocracy. The First Amendment exists in part to protect religious freedom while preventing the establishment of a national church. The amendment’s recognition of religious freedom as our first unalienable right also suggests there is something important about religion. In a series of recent decisions, the United States Supreme Court invites us to recall that truth, and recognize that religion is a feature, not a flaw, of our national life. Read

California School District Paid $20K for ‘Woke Kindergarten’ Consultant by Jeremiah Poff at Washington Examiner. A Californiaschool district paid an education consultancy organization called “Woke Kindergarten” $20,000 for a monthlong teacher training program on “anti-racist” and anti-bias curriculum in elementary school. Hayward Unified School District contracted Woke Kindergarten at its district board meeting this week in order to continue training staff at Glassbrook Elementary School in anti-racism, a phrase commonly associated with critical race theory. The district’s contract abstract says teachers and staff will “learn how to use Woke Kindergarten’s resources and pedagogical approaches in practice as a way to disrupt whiteness, white dominant/settler colonial narratives and anti-Blackness in the Glassbrook community.” The Maryland-based consultancy group was founded by Akiea Gross, a self-described “abolitionist early educator, cultural organizer and creator” who is “currently innovating ways to resist, heal, liberate and create.” Gross identifies as a “Black, queer, nonbinary and trans abolitionist” who uses they/them pronouns. Read

The Big Money Group Setting Out to Close Education’s Cultural Divides by Juan Perez Jr. at Politico. A new organization linked to some of the biggest money movers in Democratic politics is setting out plans to resist the country’s cultural divides in education. The Campaign for Our Shared has a new executive director who says the group has already raised $9 million and has ambitions to secure millions more. Its strategists have identified 15 states—including the home turf of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—where the organization is preparing to operate during the midterms, fast-approaching school year and 2024 campaign season. The campaign’s emergence marks the latest form of sophisticated community organizing and fundraising efforts centered on school boards and classrooms, as liberal-leaning education leaders scramble to match political momentum harnessed by conservatives boasting their own initiatives on parents’ rights, school history, and sex ed lessons. Read

Clarence Thomas Canceled Plans to Teach Class Because of Post-Roe Violence, Not Student Petition by Edie Heipel at Catholic News Agency. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has canceled plans to teach his popular class at George Washington University’s Law School this fall amid threats of violence following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion. A source close to Thomas told CNA the justice’s decision had nothing to do with a student-led petition calling for the Washington, D.C. school to sever its ties with Thomas. Mark Paoletta, a Washington lawyer who served as assistant counsel to President George H.W. Bush and worked on Thomas’ confirmation process, said in the last year Thomas and other justices have received death threats. Read

Schools Slide Down the Gender Identity Slope by Stanley Kurtz at National Review Online, republished at Ethics & Public Policy Center. Six Republican Senators—Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, Josh Hawley, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio—just did something important and clever by way of a letter they sent to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. The senators’ letter poses a series of questions about Cardona’s plan to treat Title IX’s ban on discrimination by “sex” as a ban on discrimination against “gender identity.” The questions posed by the senators draw on a series of recent incidents—punishments of students and teachers who refuse to use preferred pronouns; Florida’s new law protecting K–3 students from instruction on “gender identity;” the decision by schools to treat a biological girl as a boy, against her parents’ wishes; schools that withhold information about a child’s supposed “gender transition” from parents; the rape of a girl by a boy able to use the girl’s bathroom because he claims he is “gender fluid,” etc. Read

Throwback Thursday

Why ‘Classical’ Charter Schools Can’t Replace Catholic Educationby Dr. Daniel Guernsey at Catholic World Report on May 22, 2019. Catholic education is uniquely able to explore and transmit truths about humanity and the nature and meaning of reality. Since these truths come from God, the source of all reality and truth, leaving Him out necessarily diminishes any such inquiry and leaves meaning-making deficient. If it is true that “in Christ we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), then we cannot adequately teach our students to apprehend reality and to live and move and be in this world without reference to Him as the source of all reality and truth. Because Catholic schools have an intimate relationship with Christ—who is the Logos, who is Truth—they are uniquely equipped to lead students to the fullness of truth. If truths are cut off from their divine source, they are no more than shadows, according to Pope Pius XII. This is why all public schools, and even public classical schools which explicitly seek to expose students to the true, good and beautiful, are insufficient. Leaving kids in the shadow of truth risks leaving them exposed to error, pride, or skepticism. Read