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Katherine Stewart’s new book The Power Worshippers describes the hostility of evangelical Christians to public schools. I reviewed her book along with two others in the New York Review of Books. One of the most interesting insights in her book is that white evangelicals at first tried to mobilize public opinion to protect the tax-exempt status of segregated private schools and universities. When that didn’t work, they found another issue that did: abortion.
But they have never given up on their goal of public funding for religious schools that were free to discriminate and the elimination of public schools.
Last year, no one mentioned “critical race theory.” This year it has become an all-purpose cudgel with which to bash the public schools.
CRT has been used to accuse the public schools of “indoctrinating” students. Like “indoctrinating” them to believe in human equality, justice, and the dignity of all people? CRT has become a rallying cry for those who say that schools teach “socialism,” which is ridiculous unless you happen to think that programs like Social Security and Medicare are “socialism” (ask those who make this claim if they are willing to give up either of those benefits). If any schools “indoctrinate” their students, it is the religious schools seeking vouchers.
Here is the sort of stuff that is being used to organize and provoke outrage among white evangelicals.
Public schools are meant to unite us as a diverse people, to teach us to be good citizens, and to prepare our children for the future. Whatever is taught should be based on fact, in history and in science, not faith or theology.