Religion: Part of the Solution?

Religion: Part of the Solution?

Religious freedom & education freedom go together

2024 | Week of January 29 | Radio Transcript #1551

According to Christian Post, on National Religious Freedom Day, January 16, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty released its fifth annual Religious Freedom Index. The report details the public's opinions on six aspects of religious freedom, assigning each a score out of 100 based on the level of public support. A score of 0 signifies "total rejection of the specific principle of religious freedom," whereas a score of 100 reflects "total endorsement of that principle."[1]

In 2023, the overall Religious Freedom Index reached a score of 69, marking an all-time high. Among other findings, 59% of Americans believe religion is part of the solution to America’s problems, up 9 percentage points from 2022.  That finding right there is at least a bit encouraging, assuming that Christianity is afforded true equality of opportunity to be part of the solutions.

Other findings are quite interesting as they relate to parents and education. For instance, 67% of respondents agree that parents should be able to opt their kids out of public-school teachings they believe are inappropriate, are contradictory to their values, or are “morally objectionable.” Moreover, 76% disagreed with allowing schools to, quote, “encourage children to transition their genders.” End quote.

In addition, 58% of survey participants either fully or partially agreed with the idea that public schools, quote, "should not be allowed to implement policies to require students and employees to use a person's preferred gender pronouns." End quote.

Studies like this remind us that not everyone is in agreement with the liberal worldviews and agendas that seem to be dominant in our culture. Not all parents think the state and its agents know what is best for their children. Fortunately, Wisconsin has a great deal of educational freedom that affords many parents options for their children’s formal schooling, from home school to voucher programs.

In response to the desire to further empower parents, Wisconsin Republican legislators have authored a bill to protect parents' rights and religious liberty. Earlier this month, the Assembly passed Assembly Bill 510 on a vote of 62-35, following party lines, to establish specific rights for parents, while also importantly acknowledging that parents have other "inalienable rights" that are "more comprehensive" than those delineated in this bill.

The proposed legislation would allow parents to withdraw their children from classes for religious reasons or personal beliefs. It ensures parents are informed about any instances when "controversial subjects" such as gender identity, sexual orientation, or racism are addressed in the classroom. Additionally, it provides parents with the legal right to sue government entities that infringe upon these rights.

Many controversial topics that are being covered in schools, especially gender ideology, are contrary to the religious beliefs of many parents disagree with and certainly don't want their children to learn. This bill would go a long way in protecting religious liberty and allowing parents to at least in some way shield their children from anti-Christian worldviews.

Parents know what is best for their children, and it is their right to make those decisions. We are hopeful our legislature will advance this bill.

Meanwhile, the application window for Wisconsin’s robust and very successful Parental Choice programs is about to open. On February 1, the Department of Public Instruction will begin receiving online applications from qualified parents for qualified students to be part of the Milwaukee, Racine, or statewide parental choice program, commonly referred to as our voucher programs.

This year nearly 400 private schools are registered as participating in this program that is fundamentally about education freedom—a freedom that helps parents select an educational partner that is best for their children and for them as a family. Many of the registered schools, in fact, the vast majority, are private religious schools—and parents seek them out, in part, because typically the schools’ values and worldview align with theirs, thereby minimizing so much of what many parents object to in public schools.

Thankfully, years ago the Wisconsin Supreme Court respected religious freedom and upheld the right of religious private schools to participate in these education freedom programs. We can hope and pray that these religious schools and the students they educate will indeed be part of the solution to the problems we face as both a state and a nation.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you that God, through the Prophet Hosea, said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

[1]https://www.christianpost.com/news/support-for-religious-freedom-reaches-record-high-report.html; https://www.becketlaw.org/index/

 

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