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There is an awful lot of lying going on these days, and, sadly, much of it is done by the news media. There is a politically liberal news website called SLATE. They have become quite adept at promoting their liberal agenda and calling it normal and right, while demonizing those who disagree with them politically.
Recently they published an article by Mark Joseph Stern entitled The Supreme Court Just Forced Maine to Fund Religious Education. It Won’t Stop There (https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/06/carson-makin-supreme-court-maine-religious-education.html). Stern, a lawyer by training, is a senior writer covering courts and the law for Slate Magazine, and is based in Washington, DC.
Stern’s article is about a recent Supreme Court decision which ruled that the state of Maine cannot discriminate against religious schools when handing out state funds for private school education. Maine has a provision for providing funding for students who wish to attend a private school, but restricted support by excluding religious schools from participating. It is Stern’s assertion that this riling violates the separation of church and state, and that the court ruled wrongly. Well, there are actually a couple of problems with Sterns reasoning.
The first problem is that he does not recognize the religious nature of the “secular education” that he believes is somehow a neutral belief. He argues that the state’s constitution stipulated that for a student to qualify to receive state funds for private education, the school’s curricula must align with secular state standards. But, “secular” standards are not neutral, they are religious. And the values that emerge from those standards promote a particular value system that is also not neutral.
In order for something to be religiously neutral, it would have to be based on empirically demonstrable facts. His version of “secular” does not meet that standard. People like him complain that Christian schools teach non provable things like belief in God and creationism, and on the values side, discriminate against people who want to live a lifestyle that goes against biblical teachings. At the same time, the secularists’ beliefs about origins, and their belief that God does not exist, are also not empirically provable, and they discriminate against people who hold biblical beliefs. These “secular” beliefs are, ultimately, religious in nature.
The second problem with Stern’s argument is that he doesn’t understand the concept of separation of church and state. For one thing, there is no such thing in the Constitution. What the Constitution prevents is the establishment of a state church by the government. On the other side of the equation, there is absolutely nothing that prevents private citizens from expressing their religious beliefs in the public square.
When Stern made his argument about why the Supreme Court decision was wrong, I don’t think he was trying to pull a fast one. I feel rather certain he was not being malicious, only uninformed about the true nature of his argument. It is a very common problem for people who believe in a naturalistic worldview.That said, by arguing that “secular” is somehow not religious, and that separation of church and state exists the way he presents it, he twists the truth in a way that makes for a false narrative. While the arguments that Stern, and other secularists, present are essentially political, the underlying beliefs that the arguments are based upon represent a false religious faith. Christians need to be able to recognize the underlying beliefs, and learn to discuss these with those who hold them, in order to effectively share the truth of the gospel with them.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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