Allowing parents to choose


July 27, 2002

In his 1779 "Bill for Religious Freedom" in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson wrote "that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical."

Even worse than this insult is the injury of having your tax money used by a school to teach your own children opinions that you disbelieve and abhor, because you cannot afford to send them to any other kind of school.

Article VIII, Section 1 of the Maryland Constitution commands that the General Assembly "shall by Law establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools; and shall provide by taxation, or otherwise, for their maintenance."

This means that some people's tax money will be spent in violation of Jefferson's principle. We cannot avoid this, because no matter what opinions a school propagates, some taxpayers and parents will abhor them.

Last year, it was creationists in Kansas trying to keep the schools from requiring the teaching of evolution. This year, it is secularists in California trying to remove a reference to the Creator from the Pledge of Allegiance recited in schools.

At least, however, we can avoid having children taught opinions that their parents disbelieve and abhor. The Supreme Court has held that a state may give parents vouchers to spend at the school of their choice.

I am willing to let Christian parents spend my tax money to have their children taught that the Jews "killed Jesus" (I Thessalonians 2:14-15) and to let secularist parents spend my tax money to have their children taught how to use condoms, provided the Christians and secularists are willing to let me spend their tax money to have my children taught Torah and Talmud.

Matthew A. Rosenblatt


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