Force-feeding ideology

It was just a matter of time before choice became mandatory.

Last week, a federal judge denied a request by parents of students in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Montgomery County, Maryland, to be able to remove their children from classrooms when books containing LGBTQ+ characters are read aloud.

Christian and Muslim parents had sued the school system, claiming such books force religious parents to either abandon what they believe their faith teaches, or leave the public school system.

This is indoctrination and the judge’s ruling violates the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause, which “protects citizens’ right to practice their religion as they please, so long as the practice does not run afoul of a ‘public morals’ or a ‘compelling’ governmental interest.”

It took Judge Deborah Boardman 60 pages to try to make her case. She claimed parents failed to demonstrate how the no opt-out policy would “result in the indoctrination of their children or otherwise coerce their children to violate or change their religious beliefs. With or without an opt-out right,” Boardman ruled, “the parents remain free to pursue their sacred obligations to instruct their children in their faiths. Even if their children’s exposure to religiously offensive ideas makes the parents’ efforts less likely to succeed, that does not amount to a government-imposed burden on their religious exercise.”

Oh really? Public schools have children for most of the day, five days a week, nine months out of the year. Religious parents have them at night and on weekends and during the summer months. Maybe they take them for worship and religious instruction one or two hours during the week. Based on time alone, who has the greater advantage to influence young minds — parents or public schools? A teacher’s authority, along with peer pressure to conform, can undermine a parent’s religious beliefs and those of their children. Why doesn’t this argument work in reverse? Why can’t religious values be taught in public schools so that secular progressives will know something about them? According to the “reasoning” of Judge Boardman, a child with atheist parents, or parents of a different faith, should not expect their child’s beliefs (or theirs) to be undermined by exposure to teachings contained in holy books.

From sexual subjects to climate change, the state is force-feeding kids to comply with a secular worldview, instead of focusing on subjects that will prepare them to compete with China and other nations that are ahead of us in critical subjects, including reading, science, and math.

I am a product of the Montgomery County school system, to the likely shame of those currently running it. My classmates and I were taught classic subjects and received what was considered a good education. It was the same with the university I attended, which has also been taken over by “woke” teaching. The costs associated with education have gone up while the quality has declined.

A personal story. Some years ago I met then-Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-Md.) at a social function. She said that since I appeared to be one of the more famous graduates from my high school I ought to be a commencement speaker. I told her that given my conservative politics and Christian faith there was no way I would be invited to speak. She disagreed and said she would recommend me as a speaker. I jokingly said if they did invite me, I would pay her mortgage for a year.

Sometime later I saw her again and she sheepishly said to me: “You were right. They weren’t interested in you.”

The option given by Judge Boardman to religious parents that they can pull their kids out of public schools ought to be accepted. The parents should then campaign for their tax dollars to follow their children to the private school of their choice.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.