The following was a comment made by one of this blog’s readers. It is so long and thoughtful I felt it deserved more attention than it might get just showing up as a comment. Both Werner and I welcome your responses.
A comment that I made on it [post of November 6, 2017 on this blog], got me to thinking that it would be really desirable for Christians to reflect seriously, and to engage in serious conversation with each other, about our role in K-12 education in our world, how we cam impact it, and how it impacts us and our children and grandchildren. I’m sure that many Christians are already thinking seriously about this, and that conversation about it takes place between believers now; but I’d like to add this thread as another venue (where all Christian viewpoints are welcome) where that conversation can take place.
Below, I’ve copied and pasted the comment I mentioned above, just to start the discussion. When time permits, I’d like to add some more thoughts to build on these; but since it’s already a long comment, I’ll stop with this for now. (My apologies to non-U.S. group members for the U.S.-centered focus of what follows; the original blog post was written in a U.S. context!)
The 9th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifies that the people “retain” the rights, recognized in common law, which are not enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution itself. This would include the right to procreate, and to direct the upbringing of one’s own children. This provides a sufficient Constitutional safeguard (to the extent that a written Constitution, which is not self-enforcing, can provide any safeguard) for protection of legitimate parental rights vis a vis both the state and Federal governments.
The problem doesn’t arise from any lack of Constitutional protection for parental rights. Rather, it arises from the creation (with the support of both establishment parties) of a legal culture which rejects the idea that written laws, including the Constitution, actually have any fixed lexical meaning that’s binding on either courts or other public officials. In this view, the Constitution and laws currently “mean” whatever judges and officials, with their august wisdom and virtue, determine that they properly “should” mean for the current situation. This legal culture is enabled to exercise jack-booted dominance over the judicial system and over law school education because the vast majority of the populace accepts it. And they accept it because their government school “education” left them both totally clueless about what the Constitution says and convinced that they could never possibly understand it and that it doesn’t matter anyway.
IMO, as long as this state of affairs prevails (and no, I don’t think we should supinely accept it as permanent!), a push for a constitutional amendment to protect parental rights more explicitly would be an unnecessary distraction. It’s important to realize that the process of amending the written Constitution is deliberately designed to require a broad social consensus that it’s a good idea. The Bill of Rights could be passed in the first place because, at that time, there was such a consensus that human beings do have inherent rights, and that these are important. No such consensus exists today. If they weren’t already in place, not one of the first ten amendments could be passed today.
What, then, should be the strategy of Christian and other parents who want to see their children brought up in a wholesome fashion? To the extent that we can contribute to public discourse and influence public policy, I think our long-term strategy should be to educate our fellow citizens in what the Constitution says and the beliefs about human rights that underlie it, and why these matter; and to promote the election and appointment of judges and other public officials who are committed in principle to the rule of written law and the protection of its safeguards.
In the immediate situation, though, I personally feel very strongly that the short-term strategy that would serve us best would be for every Christian parent who can afford to do so to enroll their kids in a Christian school, and for all of the rest to homeschool their kids. I’m painfully aware of the cost of this (my wife and I wound up homeschooling our three girls, starting back in the 90s). I’m also aware of the fundamental unfairness of having to do this while we’re at the same taxed to support the education of other kids in a de facto state religion of atheistic humanism that we don’t share. But that particular “establishment of religion” isn’t going to be dethroned without a long, hard fight, which won’t be won in time to make any difference for the kids who are of school age now; and God never gave us any promise that we could expect the heathen world to treat us fairly or decently. If it’s a fight that’s to be won at all, in time to make a difference in later generations, the education of the present rising generation in a context where they can actually be taught, among other things, about the U.S. Constitution and the tradition of democracy and human rights might contribute significantly to that victory.