Public Education: Violation of Religious Freedom?

Honest question for Christians. If Christians were to “win back” public schools, wouldn’t that violate the religious freedom of non-Christians? Weren’t Christians violating the religious freedom of secularists when Christians dominated the public school system, and now aren’t secularists violating the religious freedom of Christians?

“Because education cannot be neutral about certain issues (What is man? What is society? Where did we come from?) and because in a pluralistic society people disagree on such issues, it is impossible to impose state education on the entire society without putting these various groups into conflict. They struggle for control of the school system, and the group in control violates the religious liberties of the other groups.” (Doug Wilson, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning)

Many people, even people who had positive experiences in public school are thinking deeply about this issue and coming to the conclusion that the only large-scale educational reform consistent with religious liberty and the Golden Rule would be turning all public schools into private schools and giving parents tax vouchers so they could choose from a variety of private schools. (It’s already been done in Wisconsin.) Don’t public schools necessarily violate religious freedom and the First Amendment? Doesn’t the one group that controls the curriculum violate the religious freedom of everybody else?

If you are a secularist or a non-Christian reading this, welcome. I invite you to challenge any Christians you know with this statement: “When Christians controlled public schools and imposed their views on everybody else, weren’t they violating religious freedom?”


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