Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Friday, February 20, 2004  

Whither Academe?

I found this startling exposition in an essay in First Things on religious freedom:

Gutmann and Thompson explicitly hold that the state need not be concerned that its educational system might violate the rights of religious believers.

Such views were once anathema to the Supreme Court. In the Pierce decision of 1925, the Court recognized the rights of private schools and parents, and thereby significantly affirmed religious liberty, especially in Justice James C. McReynolds' assertion that "the child is not the creature of the state." The 1970 Yoder case, in which the Court upheld the right of Amish parents not to enroll their children in public high schools, also focused on these issues. In dissenting in the latter case, Justice William O. Douglas got to the heart of the matter in asking whether parents had the right to "impose" their beliefs on their children, or whether on the contrary the state might not have an obligation to expose children to the opportunities of "the new and amazing world of diversity which we have today." (Douglas believed that 90 percent of people were not even fit to be parents.) Logically this left it at best an open question whether parents possess the right to raise their children in a particular religion.

I do not have a particularly sanguine opinion about the fitness and wisdom of many parents I've seen, but I don't think I could easily declare 90% of all Americans unfit for the task. Imagine the monstrous egotism and arrogance of such a man as Douglas to assume such Olympian omniscience.

The essay goes on to illustrate many other legal minds offering reasons to destroy parental authority and grant it to the state. That's alarming at first, but not when you realize that the likelihood of such a program is poor.

Why? Because the country will probably have gone to hell, and fallen apart before that totalitarianist dream can occur. I don't think Americans are truly fit for slavery, and will disintegrate or destroy their nation before they are entirely abject in surrender.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:45 PM |