June 21, 2017
Liberals may believe in choice for abortion -- but not much else. In one of the greatest ironies of the last 30 years, the Democratic Party has become the thing it once abhorred: ideological tyrants. The country is littered with examples, whether the Left is cracking down on Christian businesses or Catholic nunneries. The latest battleground is a familiar one: education. Under Barack Obama, liberals had a field day turning schools into incubators for the radical Left. From gender-free bathrooms to extremist sex ed, the only thing Democrats want to expel from the classroom is morals.
At Indiana's Lighthouse Christian Academy, this fight landed at the school's front door when a Massachusetts congresswoman took aim at the students' code of conduct. At a hearing with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Rep. Katherine Clark (D) called the agency on the carpet for refusing to strip the school's taxpayer funding simply for embracing a Christian worldview. At issue is the Academy's policy that it has the right to refuse a student struggling with same-sex attractions. "You are the backstop for students and their right to access quality education," Rep. Katherine Clark argued with DeVos. "Would you in this case say we are going to overrule and you cannot discriminate, whether it be on sexual orientation, race, or special needs in our voucher programs? Will that be a guarantee from you to our students?"
To her credit, DeVos made it clear that the point of a voucher program isn't to demand conformity on certain values. "The bottom line is we believe that parents are the best equipped to make choices for their children's schooling and education decisions," the secretary replied. "Too many children today are trapped in schools that don't work for them. We have to do something different than continuing a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach."
Interestingly enough, Lighthouse Academy hasn't turned away all students struggling with their sexuality, despite its disclaimer. As the Associated Press reports, alum Mary Wegener, now 24, says "some of her classmates at the school were gay and received love and care. [The school's attorney Brian] Bailey confirmed that the school did admit some students who were 'tempted by same-sex intimacy,' saying 'we teach our students to flee these sins.'" Wegener, the AP goes on, "sees both sides of the story, but says a religious school cannot function contrary to its core beliefs. 'If they are going to be a Christian school, they can't conform to everything else, because then that would be a private school that knocked out the Christian name.'"
Of course, the irony is that the Academy's voucher program is fueled by state money -- $665,000 to be exact. Obviously, liberals are hoping to continue the radical overreach of the Obama years, where the federal government's long arm would often reach into states and dictate local policy. Once again, the Left is trying to take its fringe views and impose them on the entire nation, despite what the law says or voters want.
"For a real choice and thus real liberty to exist, the government may not impose its own orthodoxy and homogenize all schools to conform to politically correct attitudes and ideologies," Bailey said in a statement. He's right. No school or district should allow bureaucrats to redefine their beliefs as a condition of taxpayer funding. That's the Bernie Sanders School of Governing, which insists that Christians should be expelled from public life and local partnerships for the "crime" of embracing the very faith this nation was founded upon. Unfortunately for him and Rep. Clark, this is exactly the religious test the Constitution was designed to prevent! If they object to Article VI and the First Amendment, take it up with the Framers! In the meantime, leave compassionate alternatives like Lighthouse Academy alone.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.