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BY DEANM KELLEY
There is a growing notion that govern At the beginning of the conference the chairman, Wilment has the duty to inspect, register,
liam P. Thompson, chief executive officer of the United
Presbyterian Church, listed 17 areas in which national or and certify religion as it does meat. state goverments have been intervening in religious
activities or institutions. Some interventions have been N oo many civil libertarians are fighting a rearguard halted by the courts; others are still going on. Some may
action against an enemy no longer present. Thirty seem minor or even justifiable, but cumulatively they form and 40 years ago—and longer—the danger seemed an ominous pattem. Among the 17 issues were:
to be the overdominance of religious groups. And 1. Regulation of religious fund-raising. we went to war, not to the tune of the "Battle Hymn 2. Lobbying disclosure requirements of religious bodies of the Republic," but chanting words from the First thought to be trying to influence legislation. Amendment—"Congress shall make no law respecting an 3. Regulation of curriculum content and teachers' establishment of religion." For us, "separation of church qualifications in private religious schools. and state" was a battle cry meaning "Stop the Catholic 4. Requirements that church-related colleges institute Church!"Or, for some, “Stop all the churches." Even today coeducational sports, hygiene instruction, and dormitory and some libertarians seem more solicitous for the rights of off-campus residence facilities that they may consider anti-Semites, homosexuals, and pornographers than they are morally objectionable. for the rights of religious bodies to live their chosen model of 5. Threats to such colleges and even theological the good life as guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the seminaries to cut off loans or other aid to students if the First Amendment. In fact, only now are we beginning to schools do not report admissions and employment dates by recognize that government intervention in religious affairs is race, sex, and religion, even though the schools receive no the largest, most nebulous, pervasive, and portentous direct government aid. religious-freedom issue of our day.
6. Sampling surveys of churches by the Bureau of the February, 1981, is a significant date in our growing Census, requiring voluminous reports, though the Bureau awareness. On that date, groups representing more than 90 admitted it had no authority to do so. percent of organizat religion met in Washington, D.C. The 7. Grand jury interrogation of church workers about 280 delegates made the conference the most inclusive internal affairs of churches. gathering of religious representatives in the nation's history! 8. Use by intelligence agencies of clergy or missionaries Why the meeting of such diverse bodies as the National as informants. Council of Churches, the U.S. Catholic Conference, the 9. Subpoenas of ecclesiastical records by parties in civil Synagogue Council of America, the National Association of and criminal suits. Evangelicals, the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A., and the 10 Placing a church in receivership because of complaints Southem Baptist Conventionall sponsors and the Mor- by dissident members of alleged financial mismanagement. mons, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventists, Christian II. Withdrawal of tax exemption from various religious Scientists, Unitarians, and a number of other unaffiliated bodies? Because of a common concern about government Dean M. Kelley is director of religious and civil liberty for intervention in religious affairs.
the National Council of Churches in the United States.
LOTSLISED ONTLY NO CONTRIONTDOOIT REVEW AND HERALD PUBLISHING ASSN.
v a 1 NO. MAY-NUNG.
groups for alleged "violation of public policy."
century, when there was neither public nor private general 12. Definition of what is “religion" or “religious" education, already have the ideal educational arrangement of activity by courts or administrative agencies, contrary to the life apprenticeship in the "real" world. They educate long-standing definition by churches.
successfully, with no felons or public dependents. And the 13. Redefinition by courts of ecclesiastical polities, so public authorities want them to substitute artificial classthat hierarchical churches are “congregationalized," while rooms for that real-life experience! "connectional" churches are deemed hierarchical, contrary It is true that not many Amish youngsters become nuclez to their own self-definition.
physicists or want to, or know what that is. But they may be 14. Denying to church agencies or institutions the just as well off for that lack. It depends on what one believes exemptions afforded to "churches," thus in effect dismem- the good life to be. And that is precisely the question that the bering the churches.
govemment cannot decide, nor can all the citizenry voting en
masse. Civil libertarians can get enthusiastic about the rights When Government Intervention Is Legitimate
of alternate life-styles of flower children or homosexuals or The conference did not assume that government regulation feminists or environmentalists with their solar-heated, or intervention is never necessary or justifiable; in fact, the organic-nature communes—but not about the like rights of concluding paper was entitled “When Is Governmental religious alterative life-styles. The most untraditional Intervention Legitimate?'' The answer is, When necessary to alternative life-style going today is the Amish! Private school protect public health and safety (narrowly defined, and not educators seem to aspire to shape their schools as much like including such amorphous quantities as "public order, good, conventional public schools as possible—all, that is, but the or morals"').
Amish, who want their educational process to be as much The conference sought to correct the common notion that unlike the conventional model as possible. goverment knows best and can order the affairs of life better Real civil libertarians, it seems to me, should be solicitous than individuals and private groups can if left to their own for the rights of religious bodies to live out their chosen devices. Certainly religious groups over the centuries have model of the good life in maximum freedom. But the done at least as well as govemments in envisioning and libertarian image still seems to be antireligious and, embodying the good life. They invented and initiated general specifically, anti-Catholic. Whatever justification there may education long before there were public schools, and now the have been for that concept and strategy 30 or 40 years ago, I public authorities are trying to tell them how to educate? submit that it is no longer justified. They pioneered in health care of the poor and aged long The Roman Catholic Church today shows little of the before there were public hospitals, and now the public aggressive, autocratic, triumphalise pretensions of a Cardinal authorities are trying to tell them how to care for people's Spellman (or when it does, they are soon deflated or health needs?_especially when the public institutions of disregarded by a very independent laity). The other churches education and health care often fail to live up to the very are even less assertive in requiring serious discipleship for standards public authorities seek to impose on private when they do try to assert themselves, no one takes them very agencies?
seriously, because they don't take themselves very Private and church-related schools, hospitals, homes, and seriously). other institutions usually do as good a job as public Much of the vigor and vitality in American religious life institutions. Sometimes they do better, sometimes worse, but today is in the smaller, newer groups: The Pentecostals, the very meaning of better and worse is precisely what charismatics, evangelicals, and the new religious move government—except in the most obvious matters of health ments often stigmatized as cults. They are the very ones of and safety—is not equipped to determine!
whom society is least tolerant—for the ironic reason that they A good example is the Amish. Their mode and measure of are the ones for whom religion makes a real difference! if education have been criticized by state departments of they were more placid and conventional in their beliefs and education as not preparing their children to survive and behavior they would get along a lot better—and make a lesser compete in the modern world. But that is exactly what they contribution to the health of the nation! do not want to do, believing as they do that the modem, technological, materialistic culture is the very opposite of the Ultimate Definitions good life! They want to live a simple agrarian communal life Vigorous and effective religion. I believe, is of great permeated by religious values, and it is for that that they train secular importance to society. The function of religion is to their children. And they do a pretty good job of it. explain the meaning of life in ultimate terms to its adherents
The ideal education is one in which the younger generation If society does not contain within itself the means for such learns by doing alongside the older generation, thus gaining expression, it will be vulnerable to the maladies of the knowledge and skills necessary for successful living meaninglessness that are increasingly prevalent today Modern society has provided special environments with disorientation, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, guil, full-time teachers who try to import a little of the "real" despair, vagabondage, various addictions, derangements, world into the classroom. But the Amish, who were teaching escapisms, and even some forms of crime and suicide all their members to read and write back in the sixteenth Because these may threaten the survival of society itself, its May/June, 1984
GOVERNMENT - REGULATO
of secular importance to society that thriving, effective This decision, Mueller v. Allen, allows room for the free religious organizations provide that function.
exercise of religion without significantly increasing the Governments have tried to ensure that function by danger of establishment. Few, if any, parents are going to "establishing" one or more churches to do the job. send their children to parochial school strictly because of the Unfortunately, the very act of establishing a religion tends to limited relief provided by this deductibility. It is also disqualify it for meeting the religious needs of those most significant that the Supreme Court refused to base its decision needing help: the have-nots, the poor and oppressed of the upon the proportion of families benefited by the deduction. population. After centuries of costly trial and error it was To send their children to parochial school was the parents discovered that governmental help to religion is no real help free choice and constitutionally should not turn on a head at all in getting the function of religion performed. So the count of religious affiliations. founders of our nation tried a heroic experiment, and the only It seems to me that civil libertarians should encounter the workable strategy for the public and the state with respect to danger of the moment-government encroachment—in this religion: to leave it alone.
area as they have in others. They should take alarm at the But now for 200 years we have been struggling with the growing notion that government has the duty to inspect, fascinating riddle of what it means to leave religion alone. It register, and certify religion as it does meat. They should be means—among other things that the government may not distressed that any citizens' group, but especially a religious espouse, sponsor, promote, support, hinder, or inhibit any one, should be expected, nay, required, to register with and religion, all religions, or prefer one religion over another, nor report to public officials if they want a tax exemption, if they may it become "excessively entangled" with religion. Thus want to solicit contributions from the public, or if they want the Establishment Clause has become well defined, but often to influence legislation. at the expense of the second clause of the First Amendment:
These absurd requirements, supposedly designed to or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
prevent or expose fraud or manipulation, have produced
elaborate bureaucracies that demand voluminous reports Expansionist Government
from private groups (thus distracting them from their own The problem of the moment, as I see it, is no longer work) and that build elaborate files that nobody looks at. And resisting the encroachment of expansionist churches, but all this they do without in the least inconveniencing groups resisting the encroachment of expansionist government. Too that really engage in fraud or deception, because they can many militant civil libertarians are still fighting the battles of readily falsify their reports with little danger of detection, the 1950s, obsessed with the Establishment Clause to the since bureaucrats normally view their function as compiling neglect of the Free Exercise Clause. What is the difference? forms and filing them, not using them for any ultimate 1. Several federal circuit courts have studied whether
purpose. And there are already laws against fraud that can be public high school students can meet before or after class for used against those who are defrauding. So 99 percent of religious study, discussion, or prayer on the same basis as law-abiding groups are burdened with onerous and unnecesother student groups do for nonreligious purposes. The U.S. sary and pernicious reportage without unduly deterring Supreme Court has held that where a public university has the one percent of miscreants the system was designed to created a “limited public forum" of this kind, religious catch! interests cannot be disadvantaged because of the content of I call it pernicious, above and beyond its bother and their speech. Two circuit courts have ruled that the same futility, because it encourages in the executive branch, the principle does not apply at the high school level, and the legislative, and even the judicial, as well as in the public at Supreme Court has declined to rule in these cases. A third large, the notion that it is appropriate, prudent, even case has now arisen in Pennsylvania, Bender v. Williams- necessary, for the government to ride herd on these groups to port,
and it will be interesting to see which clause of the First prevent supposed dangers of fraud and sharp practice, which, Amendment prevails. Will sponsorship by the school of of course, it doesn't. extracurricular religious activities be seen as establishment of religion? Or will the court really focus on the religious Hanky-Panky: The Price We Pay liberty rights of the students ?
But what if government didn't do all this inspection and 2. Minnesota had enacted a law permitting parents who regulation? What unimaginable evils might befall? Think of incur expenses for their children's education to deduct a the scandals of the Pallottine Fathers, the Cardinal Archlimited amount of those expenses from their state income tax. bishop of Chicago, Jonestown, and all that! But a moment's This arrangement was challenged by the Minnesota Civil reflection might remind us that, notorious as they were, and Liberties Union on the ground that it was an establishment of even if as bad as alleged to be, such scandals comprise a tiny religion. But the federal district court, circuit court, and fraction of total religious activities. Supreme Court all found that it was not an establishment of The Founders knew when they wrote the First Amendment religion, since it included expenses of public as well as that some hanky-panky might go on in the name of religion. private religion. No tax money was paid to parochial schools. That is the price of freedom. But they were willing to pay that and parents acted as a buffer between the government and the price and take that risk. Are we less confident in the schools benefiting from the tax deduction.
importance of freedom than they?
Maxine Carle's home school spreads across the kitchen and family room of her rural
Maine home. Four-year-old Bonny kneels by the patio doors practicing letters from the alphabet." "God made Adam and Eve,'" reads Joshua, age 6, from his primer We Learn About God. Wind and rain tear at trees in the nearby forest a Heather, 9; Holly, 12; and Jamie, 14, work on their studies at battered school desks. Heidi, 16, and 17-year-old Bryan, who sa high school senior, work at Latin and social studies in their mom's Christian Liberty Academy's Satellite School.
Mrs. Carle moves efficiently from child to child, giving help as needed. Betweet the refrigerator and the sink a tawny Siames cat nurses six kittens.
The Carle children seem unsurprised that their mother (who at 45 has two grandctul dren) is able to assist in their daily learning activities. Maxine Carle finished first in her 20-student high school graduating class 17 years ago. Subsequently she took nurse's training and received her R.N. Now she reads voraciously to keep ahead of her family of students.
Stuart Carle, a self-employed tractor trailer driver, uses knowledge gained in a Marine Corps electronics course to rutor hs children in math and science. Both parents find the Christian Liberty Academy instructional aids self-explanatory. The youngsters, Maxine says, "have had plenty of time to finish their work" each of the more than two years they've studied a home.
Says Bryan, “Half the time in high school English class you can't get help. You wait until it's too late, then flunk the test."
Bryan spent a year at a high school in a neighboring community, where he was "flunking English." Now, after two yean in the A Beka (Pensacola) series Christian English textbooks, he expects to graduate in the spring and enter Valley Forge Christian College. Both mother and son affirm that in public school Bryan's English textbooks were seldom used, and that class time was spent on drama and mythology
The Carle children are among 250 youngsters studying at home in Maine-abour double those in home schools one year ago Four years ago, according to Wallace LaFountain, the Maine Department of Education's curriculum consultant, only one child was taught at home with state approval. About 50 of the home students now, says LaFountain, are in stateapproved Calvert or Pensacola Christian school correspondence programs. Another 200 are enrolled in Christian Liberty Acad
emy's Satellite School program parents' decision. On national norms, his lost in Nebraska three years ago. (CLASS) originating in Prospect Heights, arithmetic skills stood at grade level 6.2 Gerald and Gloria DeNicola, of NewDlinois and an unknown qumber have when he entered CLASS in grade 7 in late Seine, have been prosecuted two designed their own programs. Most home- fall, and at grade level 6.8 in the spring. But
aps for using the Calvert and schoolers are, in LaFountain's words, vocabulary and composition areas zoomed
grams to educate their "Routing the law," since CLASS does not from grade level 1.3 to 10.2, and his
foul language, seek state approval. language skills sprouted from grade level
and lack Paul Lindstrom, Christian Liberty's 6.6 to 9.7 in the same period. The other superintendent, says that CLASS now has Carle children have shown similar gains. DeNinoloo 3,650 families with 7,000 youngsters in the Public school superintendent William years as asi program nationwide, an increase of 61 Sternberg, of Rockland, Maine, does no old homan whar percent in one year. Dr. Raymond Moore, make a case for the academic superiority Guiana incip The Delicate of the Hewitt Foundation, says his organiza- public school over home instruction. By, ne Va Shristia who worship at local tion has 15,000 home-schoolers listed in its argues that group schooling, whether pub- on au senini with two other famifiles. Moore estimates that at least 250,000 lic, private, or parochial, supplies neceffery youngsters nationwide study at home. His "socialization," "social contacts, or
en instructional material figure is based on known local home schools "social development." No opportunit) ha helaine Dartment of Education's and is extrapolated into the national school- parent can provide, claims Sternberg, approval force use provided parents age population. equal to one hundred and twenty-five 8- to
dles such as demonstrating "Home schooling is a stabilizing effect" 13-year-olds lumped together in one setting they are qualified" to teach—the DeNiin my children's lives, Mrs. Carle says, five and three-quarter hours a day," afford-colas were refused permission by their local explaining her reasons for taking the five ing many "spontaneous experiences" not board to educate at home. They then applied older youngsters still at home out of the possible at home.
directly to the state for approval, but in the public schools nearly three years ago. In But a Maine father, who chooses not to be interim, district superintendent Hartland public school, she remarked, “Mother tells identified for fear of harrassment, strongly Cushman had the DeNicolas hauled into them one thing, and the teacher another. disagrees. “We were brainwashed," he court on truancy charges. The judge disWho do the children believe?" Mrs. Carle said of his experience with his two junior- missed the case because the state had by told of an elementary teacher whose life- highers now in their fourth year of home then overruled Cushman's local board. style, she feels, is leading older girls astray. schooling, "into thinking our children had Cushman has even more aggressively purBut though parents have complained to the to be in school for their social develop sued the DeNicolas this school year by tying public school authorities, nothing can be ment." He and his wife say that the up their home-school application at the local done to correct the after-hours behavior of youngsters have social contact with other level, preventing direct appeal to the state. this popular schoolteacher.
children five days a week, including church Cushman has again had the DeNicolas “We have a Christian heritage that is and youth activities two or three times arrested, and the judge is trying to mediate. important to us," says Maxine Carle. “Our weekly.
Esther White, Dixfield, Maine, is a children don't get that heritage in school." The Carles likewise feel that their chil- Seventh-day Adventist who has chosen Her husband, Stuart, agrecs. "God is taken dren get adequate social contact. The three home instruction for her youngsters, several away from our children" in the public older youngsters are now spending at least of whom are now in high school. She says, schools, he told the Rockland Courier- one day a week hammering nails or painting "If I had to give one qualification for my Gazette. "Our children are getting caught to with the volunteer crew at their Baptise ability to teach my children, I would have to do their own thing."
church's new sanctuary-classroom-gymna- answer that it is that I am their mother." Like several parents interviewed by sium complex. When not working, they are Though she wrote as part of a formal LIBERTY, a relatively minor but frustrating playing basketball with other teens in the application for home schooling in which she incident, coupled with learning of the church's new gym. The entire family intends to design a program around Rod and availability of home schooling, precipitated attends some church activity'several times a Staff (Mennonite) curricula, her reasons the Carles' pulling their three elementary week.
express the feelings of many home-school aged and two high-school-aged children out Paul Lindstrom reports that very few of parents: The government has no right, either of public school in 1981. Jamie, then in his parents have encountered legal harrass- from a constitutional or Biblical position, to grade 7, was behind in his math, and his ment, though many states do mandate insist on monitoring a parents' home-educamother went to see the principal to try to official supervision of home schoolsa tion program beyond the restraints of correct the situation. Though the principal practice that CLASS avoids simply by not ordinary child-abuse laws. treated her cordially, she got nowhere in reporting to authorities. The Carles, for Dr. Raymond Moore supports the right trying to get Jamie the help he needed. example, have refused to permit public and the advisibility of parents such as the
About that time the Carles went to hear a school personnel to supervise their school. Carles, the DeNicolas, and the Whites to mother talk on Christian Liberty Academy. Though the local superintendent has teach at home. "If a parent can read and This was "exactly the thing" we wanted, referred the matter to the state attorney write, speak clearly," and keeps a "sysMaxine Carle remembers. It sounded "So general, no word has been heard from that tematic house," then home schooling may positive." They enrolled the children in office in the two years since. Lindstrom says be the best course, he said. In fact, it is a CLASS at once. Bonny and Joshua, now that about 100 of some 2,600 CLASS “slap in the parent's face to suggest that the also in the program, have never been to families were threatened during the 1982- State (can) out-parent most fathers and school outside their home.
1983 school year. Only three, in Texas, Jamie's lowa Tests of Basic Skills for that came to court (all were won by CLASS). Eric E. Wiggin is a full-time free-lance first year seem to confirm the wisdom of his Lindstrom concedes that several cases were writer in Rockland, Maine.