BECAUSE THEY CARE ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

It is about our children.

Who is responsible for the education of children? Politicians, or parents? That is the crucial civil rights question of the 21st century. Do we trust politicians more than we do parents?

What is the latest battle over this question in Virginia? Well, the Virginia General Assembly is in session. So, it is a bill, HB 521 Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits; repealing tax credit (lis.virginia.gov). Here is what that bill is about.

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits. Repeals the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits. Any qualifying donations made prior to July 1, 2020, shall be eligible for the credit, including the ability to carry over the credit, as it was in effect on June 30, 2020. (fr0m here (lis.virginia.gov))

Why is repealing Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits a problem? HB 521 gives low-income parents a choice. When they do not believe the public school system is properly serving the need of their children, the money from this program helps these parents choose to send their children to private schools.

The Family Foundation puts it this way.

If the General Assembly passes HB 521 it will take away the best, and only, chance for certain families to move their children into an education environment where they will thrive. (from here)

The Catholic Virginian (catholicvirginian.org) observes.

If passed, HB 521 would eliminate the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits (EISTC) program, which provides funding for non-public, tuition-based education programs in Virginia though scholarships. Students enrolled in the 30 Catholic schools in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond would be affected, as this year alone, more than 1,300 children attend Catholic schools because of this program.

Without EISTC, many families would lose the opportunity to send their children to Catholic school. Virginia’s only school choice program, EISTC covers the gap between what a family can afford to pay toward tuition and the actual cost of tuition. EISTC is funded from donations to scholarship foundations approved by the Virginia Department of Education, such as the diocese’s McMahon Parater Scholarship Foundation. (from here (catholicvirginian.org))

Is School Choice just for Catholics? Is it just about choosing a Christian education for our children? Of course not! School Choice is an option for anyone who understands that government has a horrible time setting its priorities appropriately.

  • Because government cannot be trusted, government-run schools cannot even teach a child a religious belief. So, government-run schools have great difficulty instilling appropriate moral values into children.
  • Killing the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits program will just cost Virginia tax payer more. That is because children now going to private schools will be forced back into the public schools.

Is putting these children back into the public schools a good idea? Consider Trump’s school choice plan will help kids, and is smart politics (washingtontimes.com).

At a recent White House roundtable with students, teachers and policymakers, President Trump said that children trapped in failing government schools “would be forgotten no longer,” and urged Congress to pass his Education Freedom Scholarships proposal, which would improve education for America’s children.

Under the president’s EFS proposal, taxpayers could make voluntary contributions to scholarship-granting organizations, which would be identified and approved by states, and these organizations would give out scholarships to students that could be used for a wide variety of educational options. Taxpayers making contributions would receive a non-refundable dollar-for-dollar tax credit.

EFS would not be a top-down federal program, but would allow states to decide whether to participate and how to select eligible students, education providers and allowable education expenses. (continued here (washingtontimes.com))

At the same time our president is trying to expand School Choice, Virginia’s politicians, seeking more power over us, are trying to kill School Choice. Who benefits? Special interests. What is the biggest special interest in public education? The teachers unions.

Teachers unions have steadily amped up their political involvement: From 2004 to 2016, their donations grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million — an all-time high. Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94 percent of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990, where our data begins.

Two organizations account for practically all of the contributions made by teachers unions: The National Education Association (about $20 million in 2016) and the American Federation of Teachers (almost $12 million). Both groups — which compete for members, but also collaborate with each other through the NEA-AFT Partnership — are consistently among the organizations that contribute the most money to candidates and political groups. (from here (opensecrets.org))

Like it or not, teachers unions represent teachers. That is, teachers represent the best interests of teachers. Hence, we can make all kinds of supposedly fine arguments for a public education MONOPOLY, but the bottom line is that a state education monopoly is not in the best interests of children. Except for the people who buy politicians, nobody in their right mind trusts politicians to do the right thing.

Please contact your legislators (See WHO’S MY LEGISLATOR.) and ask them to oppose HB 521. Disperse power from the General Assembly, and give it back to parents

 

Posted in Citizen Responsibilities, School Choice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

SOMETHING ELSE TO READ IN THE NEW YEAR: A BELATED NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

Karl Raimund Popper (from here)

I don’t get excited about the calendar. I don’t regard New Years Day as special. Since I would rather sleep than party, on New Years Eve, I go to bed at the same old time. Do I begrudge of the desires of those who want to party? No. I just pray they won’t drink and drive. Does it bother me that Catholics make January 1st a holy day of obligation? Is not any day a good day for prayer?

The Apostle Paul said we should not get excited and upset about small things.

Romans 14:1-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Principles of Conscience

14 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,

As I live, says the Lordevery knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”

12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.

Recently I was invited to blog at On the Pilgrim Road (onthepilgrimroad.com), a new website. The authors at this website represent a variety of different Christian denominations. Therefore, I wondered how this would work. When I considered Paul’s words, I decided it could work well. In fact, one of the bloggers explains her switch to Catholicism (here) and another his switch to Lutheranism (here). So several of us at least are personally familiar with another Christian religious tradition besides the one we currently practice.

Tolerance and forbearance are a difficult things, however. The issue is deciding what we should tolerate. This is the best guide I have seen.

Be egalitarian regarding persons.
Be elitist regarding ideas.

— Peter Kreeft (peterkreeft.com) of Boston College (from here (townhall.com))

Of course we should carefully choose the ideas we believe require us to engage in “elitism”.

An ancient maxim reads, “About matters of taste, there is no disputing,” while another one advises, “About matters of truth, we should engage in dispute.” (from here (focusonthefamily.com))

What ideas relate to matters of taste? What ideas involve truths that Christians are required to care about? I think the crucial test involves this verse.

John 14:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

If we love Jesus, we will obey Him. We will believe His Truths, and we will dispute with others in order to protect those truths. Ephesians 6:10-17 tells how to do this, by standing against evil with the sword of the Word.

The world, of course, has its own ideas. The world is man centered, not God centered. Here is what the worldly tell Christians.

Christians are told their beliefs are matters of faith and, therefore, tolerance must override faith. (from here (focusonthefamily.com))

The world confuses tolerance and forbearance. The tolerant person is non judgemental. He does not care. One who forbears, on the other hand, admits that certain behavior is undesirable, but decides to put up with it in spite of his disapproval.

Forbearance is actually more difficult than tolerance. Those who forbear believe what they are putting up with is wrong, but for the sake of a greater good, they tolerate the offender. For the sake of the greater good we have actually included the requirement for forbearance in our Constitution. We don’t allow our government to discriminate based upon race, sex, or creed. Therefore, we can debate religion, but we don’t go to war over our religious differences.

Unfortunately, our government has taken the legal protections against discrimination based upon against race, sex, and creed to next “logical step”, affirmative action (discriminating against certain “majority groups” and men) on behalf of certain “minority groups” and women. Thus, qualifying for affirmative action has become prize. That is, for the sake of the perceived benefits, some people now want to be seen as the “victim” of odious discrimination. Effectively, whether they realize it or not, those who see themselves as victims of discrimination want to use the law to discriminate in return.

Therefore, in addition to being “protected” against discrimination based upon race, sex, and creed, some people want to be “protected” against discrimination based upon age, obesity, disability, gender, national origin, and so forth. The possibilities are huge. With enough ingenuity and determination, we can all participate.

What is the problem here? It appears to be related to something Karl Popper calle the paradox of tolerance.

“The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.

Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

Karl Raimund Popper (plato.stanford.edu), The Open Society and Its Enemies (quote from here (goodreads.com))

Anyway, I guess I am going to have to read The Open Society and Its Enemies this year. That quote is from a footnote, just a footnote.

Additional Reading

Here are several different views on the paradox of tolerance.

What is Christian Tolerance (or, more appropriately, forbearance)?

  • The Bible: The Book that Changed Everything (christianoutlook.com): The basic requirement for liberty is religious freedom, the liberty to worship the God of our choice and exercise our religious freedom. That requires forbearance from each of us.

    In this special hour edition, Eric Metaxas speaks with Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi about his book titled, “This Book Changed Everything.” They look at how it shaped the idea of democracy and the notions of leadership, how we are indebted to the Bible for our for civility in this cooperative endeavor of democracy, as well as how the Bible shaped the very idea of a nation and America as a nation vis a vis an empire. Metaxas and Mangalwadi finish out the show by discussing how the Bible shaped the West’s idea of what it means to be human.

  • Should Christians be tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs? (gotquestions.org)
  • What is Christian tolerance? Should Christians be tolerant of other religious beliefs? (compellingtruth.org)
  • Discrimination (plato.stanford.edu): This is from an encyclopedia of philosophy. Interesting to see what discrimination looks like to philosophers and compare that to Christian tolerance.

The big tolerance debate in our era is over LGBT rights. Here is a random selection of stories.

Note: I have also posted this article at On the Pilgrim Road. That does not constitute an endorsement of the views posted at On the Pilgrim Road by the Prince William – Manassas Family Alliance and vice versa.  I just thought the material appropriate to both blogs.

 

Posted in Citizen Responsibilities, Constitutional Government, culture, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

TO BE PAGAN IS TO BE ISOLATED

Instead of a Christian revival, our nation is experiencing a Pagan revival. That, essentially, is the thesis of this article in The Washington TimesLosing our Religion: America becoming ‘pagan’ as Christianity cedes to culture (washingtontimes.com).

Here is how that article starts.

The Rev. Stephen M. Koeth, a Catholic priest and Ph.D. history candidate at Columbia University, was teaching a class one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermons that mentioned the road to Jericho. He found it striking that none of the students got the reference to the road, which is where the parable of the Good Samaritan takes place.

But then the Rev. Koeth realized it wasn’t just the road — the students weren’t familiar with the Good Samaritan.

That makes them pagans, in the very real sense of the word, he said.

“They have no knowledge, no practice, no anything,” he said. “It’s not that they’re antagonistic to religion. Some of them are, but often times it just has no meaning to them.” (continued here (washingtontimes.com))

The people Koeth refers to as Pagans most of the news media now calls “Nones”. As that article observes, the Nones are fastest growing group.

Yet all the growth is on the other side of the spectrum, the so-called “Nones,” or do not have a religious affiliation. That includes atheists and agnostics, but the real stunning rise within the Nones has been those who don’t so much actively question or reject God, as much as they don’t see a reason to bother with religion.

Call them the apathetics. (from here (washingtontimes.com))

Fifty years ago today’s news media would have refer to me as one of the Nones. Then I referred to myself as an agnostic. I had been raised as Christian but schooled in our public schools and by the mass media to disbelieve. To me religious belief looked like superstitious nonsense. So, for decades I payed Christianity little or no attention.

Nevertheless, I had some knowledge of Christianity. I knew the story of the Good Samaritan, and even though I did not appreciate its Christian roots, I practiced a Christian morality. Was I a Pagan?

pagan (merriam-webster.com)

1: HEATHEN
especially : a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome)
2: one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods : an irreligious or hedonistic person
3: NEO-PAGAN
//witches, druids, goddess worshippers, and other pagans in America today— Alice Dowd

Was I a Pagan? Well, the important thing is that I eventually read the Bible and believed it. The children becoming Nones now lack any knowledge of the Bible, and the absence of any knowledge or respect for Christian teachings is what disturbs Koeth. This generation of Nones has been isolated from the culture that created our country.

The apathetics don’t attend services, don’t ascribe to any one creed, and often don’t even have much familiarity with the faith world. They account for a bigger share of the population than the agnostics and atheists combined, and their numbers are growing by millions each year.

“They’re terrifying,” said Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Baptist pastor. “They have very low levels of income, low levels of education. They’re sort of checked out from modern society. They’re scary. They’re the people who are isolated.” (from here (washingtontimes.com))

Isolated? Why isolated? Secularism, the religious belief most promoted by the public school system and the mass media instills apathy and indifference. Because it has no answers for the big questions, that includes apathy and indifference to other people.

Consider.

There are four big questions in life.
–Why am I here?
–What is right and wrong?
–What brings me meaning
–What happens to a human being when I die?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfb5-7mtC-8

Christianity answers those questions with Jesus Christ, with the God who loves us and demands that we love and care about each other. At its best, Secularism in the form of Secular Humanism still doesn’t give people a good reason to care about each other. Doesn’t the establishment of close relationships with other people require lots of work and sacrifice? If the only reason to go to all that trouble is for sake of utility (i.e., Utilitarianism), what is the point? Why make the effort? Why change the focus from “ME” to somebody else?

Therefore, we come to a question. How is it that a constitutional republic founded by a nation of people who called themselves Christians is now in the process of raising successive generations ignorant of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible? The answer is that we have turned our responsibility for educating our children over to politicians, people nobody wants to trust, not if they are the least bit sane.

Why would we turn our children over to politicians? Laziness? To conform to the popular will? Ignorance? We just don’t know any better?

What did Jesus Christ command us to do?

Matthew 28:16-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Great Commission

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

How do we make disciples of all nations? We begin by discipling our own children and having them baptized. We need to take that responsibility for our children as seriously as the Bible tells us to take it.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

If that is way we are supposed to love God, does it make any sense whatsoever to send our children to secularized schools, to schools where the mention of God is superstitiously treated as taboo?

As Christians we have an obligation to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). We cannot call ourselves followers of Christ and passively accept defeat. Therefore, I ask you to consider this suggestion. Please commit yourself to school choice. Please commit yourself to giving both yourself and your neighbors a choice. Please fight to give parents the choice of sending their children to schools where the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ are both taught and respected.

 

Posted in Citizen Responsibilities, culture, religion, School Choice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments