Public Schools and Religious Hatred


(Guest Post by Greg Forster)

Choice Remarks carries my article on the government school monopoly and religious hatred:

For decades, we’ve heard opponents of school choice claim that the government school monopoly is our only protection against “jihad schools” that will teach children to hate and kill. In all that time, you know what we haven’t seen? Jihad schools, operating in any of the nation’s 59 private school choice programs across 28 states. In fact, the government school monopoly doesn’t protect us from religious division, and it can’t do so.

Partly we’re talking about good old fashioned bigotry that doesn’t want to believe highly religious minorities can support democracy and pluralism. But there’s more to the story.

We demand that highly secularized institutions should have a monopoly on education because we think such institutions are “neutral” with regard to religion. This fails for two reasons.

First, it incentivizes schools to marginalize and alienate religious minorities in order to legitimize the secular monopoly on education. Religious minorities must be seen as dangerous, or the interests of the monopoly will be threatened.

Second, highly secularized institutions are inherently less effective at inculcating the values and practices essential to democracy and pluralism:

This is because a secular institution can tell you to be good (be tolerant, respect diversity, etc.) but it can’t tell you why. It can’t connect the rules of right behavior to deep sources of meaning, purpose, and identity. It ends up just spewing a lot of sentimental gas, and then wagging its finger at you if that doesn’t work, and then punishing you. Or it offers utilitarian, mercenary reasons to be good. None of that helps students form either a deep attachment to moral rules or the self-discipline to carry them out.

As always, your comments are very welcome!

One Response to Public Schools and Religious Hatred

  1. Perhaps this helps explain why I found significantly lower levels of anti-Semitism among adults who had attended religious schools as children compared to those who attended secular public schools:

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