I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

What did you miss this week? Trump bashing public schools? Catholic colleges loving LGBTQ students? The latest on “Satanic pregnancies?” It’s all here in our weekly news round up. Plus Kobe Bryant, John Whitcomb Jr., our next Ed Secretary, and Tennessee’s bad plan for funding schools.

Trump talks education at SOTU.

Only snobs would sneer at Paula White’s call to miscarry “Satanic pregnancies,” says DF.

remember that Pentecostal Christianity was born out of America’s poor and working-class communities—people who feel the tremendous, grinding weight of poverty, of addiction, of oppression—and it is sweeping through the global south in communities who face many of these same challenges. These people are not privileged. They don’t have the power and confidence of America’s prosperous Christian class. The Holy Spirit bursts into their lives like a supernova of hope.

How should Catholic colleges treat LGBTQ students? At America.

How can Catholic colleges respond to the needs of L.G.B.T. people? It is often a contentious topic. But it need not be. Because at heart it is about something that Jesuits call cura personalis: care for the whole person, care for the L.G.B.T. person.

Who might be the next Secretary of Education? At EdWeek.

Some you’ve probably heard of, like Jerry Falwell Jr., Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Tony Evers of Wisconsin. But others you probably haven’t.

Who was the late Kobe Bryant’s biggest inspiration? His English teacher. At WBUR.

Tennessee’s Governor Mike Lee announces new $$$ for schools.

Not so fast: Fifth Third Bank reverses its decision to pull out of scholarship program, at OS. It seems they’re back in after receiving assurances that none of their $$$ would go directly to anti-LGBTQ schools.

Fifth Third said Friday that it changed its views based on “detailed conversations” with the AAA Scholarship Foundation, which administers some of the program. The bank said that the foundation had agreed to “develop a roadmap to help parents navigate the school selection and application process.”

RIP Dr. John Whitcomb Jr. I’m no creationist, but there is no denying the long-lasting influence of Whitcomb’s work. It was Whitcomb more than his more-famous co-author Henry Morris who sparked the rise of young-earth creationism in the 1960s.

Franklin Graham: Anti-Gay Not OK in UK

The historical parallels are piling up. This week, conservative evangelist Franklin Graham has been booted from all eight venues of an upcoming revival sweep of the UK. I know it’s not simply the same, but I can’t help but notice the parallels to 1925, when young-earth creationists were laughed out of London. Will the results from back then repeat themselves?President Trump Holds Rally In Phoenix, Arizona

Here’s what we know: Due to pressure from LGBTQ groups, Franklin Graham’s contracts have been canceled for his planned preaching tour of the UK. He had planned eight stops, but all of the venues have pulled out. The tour might still go on if organizers from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association can find new venues.

Over the past few years, Graham the younger has attracted a lot of criticism for his anti-LGBTQ statements. He has called gay people “wicked, evil people,” accused them of causing a “moral 9-11,” and praised Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws.

As we’ve wondered on this blog recently, will the future of anti-LGBTQ Christianity echo the anti-evolution past?

Back in 1925, after all, as the Scopes trial was generating headlines worldwide, young-earth creationist pundit George McCready Price suffered the worst humiliation of his long career. In a London debate on the question “Is Evolution True,” Price found himself heckled mercilessly. He tried to present his case about the scientific obliviousness of evolution. As Price put it,

We are making scientific history very fast these days; and the specialist in some corner of science who keeps on humming a little tune to himself, quietly ignoring all this modern evidence against Evolution, is simply living in a fools’ paradise.  He will soon be so far behind that he will wake up some fine morning and find that he needs an introduction to the modern scientific world.

The audience would have none of it.  They booed him; he was unable to finish the debate. He retreated from the stage and never again debated evolution in public. As he fled, he offered this final plea to the London crowd:

I only ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen, to read both sides of the case.  Do not confine your reading wholly to one side.  How can you know anything about a certain subject if you read only one side of the case?  There is plenty of evidence on the other side, and this evidence is gradually coming out.

The parallels go beyond the UK backdrop. Back in 1925, George McCready Price was still trying to defend his vision of science as the better one. As have his followers ever since, Price never attacked science. Instead, he insisted that his radical young-earth creationism was a better form of science. By 1925, however, at least in this London venue, people weren’t having it.

Similarly, Franklin Graham still refuses to admit that his views on sexuality are anti-LGBTQ. As he explained recently,

Some people have said I am going to bring hateful speech to the UK, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In the past, Graham has insisted that his opposition to same-sex marriage was not anti-LGBTQ. As he told one reporter,

I’m not homophobic, I’m not against gay or lesbian people. They are free to live however they want to live, but I believe God makes it very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.

So not only is Graham following the 1920s anti-evolution path by getting booted from UK venues, but also by finding himself suddenly outside the circle of polite society. Like George McCready Price a century ago, Graham has found that definitions are changing fast. Not very long ago, it was considered acceptable to oppose same-sex marriage, even by leading Democrats. Now, his position has classified Graham as a “hate preacher,” no longer fit for public support.

What happened back then? George McCready Price never again debated, but he did not give up. He devoted himself to founding organizations devoted to spreading young-earth creationism. One of them, the Deluge Geology Society, eventually succeeded beyond Price’s wildest dreams. Its members included a young engineer, Henry Morris, who in 1961 would publish a book that would bring radical young-earth creationism to vast new American audiences.

After an awkward period of struggle, in which conservatives tried to maintain mainstream respectability for their ideas, radical anti-evolution creationists instead created their own network of radical institutions outside the mainstream. Will we see that happen again this century? Will a UK rejection lead once again to a USA transformation?

“Failing Government Schools:” the Next Page in Trump’s Playbook

By and large, people like them. Why would President Trump attack them? He has scored some victories by backing extremist views. Will it work with schools, too?

Here’s what we know: In his State of the Union speech, Trump took the highly unusual step of criticizing public schools as “failing government schools.” Why would he do that? By and large, public schools are enormously popular with Americans. Yes, people tend to agree that the nation’s schools as a whole have problems, but huge majorities (65%-77%) give their kids’ schools an “A” or “B.”

gallup kids schoolsNot only that, but public schools have a unique place in America’s vision of itself. For a long time now, as Jonathan Zimmerman explored, Americans have considered their local public school a central part of their community.zimmerman small wonder

Traditionally, presidents and other national leaders like to set themselves up as defenders of the public schools. It seems like a bad move for Trump to attack them, like pitting himself against baseball. Or apple pie. Or motherhood.

Will Trump’s attack on public schools hurt him? With normal politicians, I’d think so. But Trump has made a presidential career out of embracing non-mainstream views.

Remember Charlottesville? Most politicians would have denounced a racist, murderous, extremist march. But Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides.”

america school heiderich 1897

What Trump is now against. (c. 1897)

And as a few historians discussed yesterday on Twitter, the phrase “government schools” has a long and tangled history. Back in the 1950s, it was used by a few libertarians such as Milton Friedman. It was also the language used by white supremacists in the South to denounce integration. By the 1970s and 1980s, it had become the language used by a certain type of extreme religious conservative.

By adopting the rhetoric of “failing government schools,” President Trump has once again upended presidential tradition. Instead of trying to represent a respectable, staid, traditional middle, he has taken on the position of extremist, aggrieved conservative outsiders.

Will it work? Four years ago, I would have said no. So far, though, it has been Trump’s go-to move. As the head of the government, attacking “government schools” makes no sense. It alienates large portions of the voting populace. But it also motivates and encourages a small group of outsiders and extremists, people who hadn’t considered themselves welcome in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue before 2016.

Common Sense in School Reform: Too Common by Far

When you hear it out loud, it sounds so obvious it’s hard to imagine how anyone could disagree. When Diane Ravitch called recently for a return to “common sense” in education policy, it seemed like an obvious winner. Yet as Ravitch knows as well as anyone, sensible school reform has always been incredibly difficult to pull off. Why? It’s not because “common sense” is uncommon. Rather, it’s because the things that make sense in schools are often directly opposed to one another.slaying goliath

Ravitch was plugging her new book, Slaying Goliath. In her short piece at Time, she lambasted the “Bush-Obama-Trump” idea of high-stakes testing as an educational panacea. It didn’t work. It wasn’t ever going to work. Instead, Ravitch wrote, we need to return to “reforms that work.” They aren’t mysterious. As Ravitch put it,

Children and schools need stability, not disruption. They need experienced teachers and well-maintained schools. All children need schools that have a nurse, counselors, and a library with a librarian. Children need time to play every day. They need nutrition and regular medical check-ups.

All of this is common sense.

It’s hard to disagree. So why are these common-sense reforms so difficult to achieve? The first and most obvious explanation is the oldest story in American school reform. Yes, people want good schools, but they always want to do it on the cheap.

But it’s not just cheapness. Even when reformers have been willing to put money into it, school reform has suffered from an over-abundance of common sense. Ravitch’s vision of common-sense reform is obviously true, but too often, so is its opposite.

I think the late David Tyack and Larry Cuban put it best in 1997 in their book Tinkering Toward Utopia. America’s schools have always carried heavy expectations—expectations that often contradicted one another.tyack cuban tinkering

As Tyack and Cuban wrote, schools have always been expected to combine the uncombinable. As they put it, schools have been expected

to socialize [children] to be obedient, yet to teach them to be critical thinkers;
to pass on the best academic knowledge that the past has to offer, yet also to teach marketable and practical skills;
to cultivate cooperation, yet to teach students to compete with one another in school and later in life;
to stress basic skills but also to encourage creativity and higher-order thinking;
to focus on the academic ‘basics’ yet to permit a wide range of choice of courses.

Why don’t more schools and more education policy-makers recognize the obvious truth of Ravitch’s call for common sense? It’s not because common sense is uncommon, but because there are too many competing common-senses out there.

For a lot of Americans, it’s common sense to think that high-stakes tests will be a good measure of school effectiveness.

  • But it’s also common sense to notice that one-size-fits-all tests won’t work with America’s diverse educational landscape.

For a lot of Americans, it’s common sense to assume that more school choices will be good for families.

  • But it’s also common sense that creating competing schools will divert scarce tax dollars away from hard-up public schools.

We could go on all day. For every obvious reform, there has always been an equally plausible yet opposite reform. In the end we don’t suffer from a lack of common sense. We suffer from a lack of agreement about which common sense actually makes sense for our children.

Why Do Ed Leaders Keep Trying to Repackage Old Garbage? TN Edition

Does it count as an innovative “disruption” when politicians repackage the oldest failed idea in public education financing? This time we’re talking about Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. Lee is trying to sell it as a bold new idea, but it’s really the oldest idea in public education.

Here’s what we know: Governor Lee promised to increase funding for public schools. He wants to increase teacher pay and provide more mental-health counselors for schools. So far, so good.

The problem comes when Governor Lee explained his plan to pay for these improvements. He wants to engage in what he calls “disruption” of traditional public funding models. The old methods didn’t work, Lee said, so it was time for “extraordinarily different inputs.”

What’s wrong with that? As I argued in the Washington Post about Secretary DeVos’s similar call for new approaches to school funding, this “new definition of public education” is anything but new. In fact, as I’m finding in the research for my new book about the roots of American public ed, the system we have grew out of the inadequacies of mixing private and public funding.

Back in the 1820s, cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and New York thought they could provide tuition-free public education for all children by mixing funding streams. They appealed to philanthropists to cough up money for this worthy cause.

It didn’t work. The money was never enough. School leaders were caught in a desperate, recurring bind. Every year, they had to plead with both legislators and philanthropists to provide enough money for basic services. Because the old system was so obviously inadequate, they successfully pushed for full public funding, enough to cover school costs.

With hindsight, the problems seem obvious. It seems obviously difficult to predict how many wealthy people will decide to give how much money for public schools.

What really stumps me is how so many leading politicians these days—it’s not only Secretary DeVos and Governor Lee—seem devoted to stubbornly ignoring those obvious lessons from our past. Not only that, they try to sell this old, failed model as a bold new program, an exciting innovation.

It almost seems as if people who don’t know their own histories are doomed to repeat them.

I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

Okay, so leaving aside the fact that Kansas City is apparently not in Kansas anymore, here were a couple of the big ILYBYGTH-themed news stories from last week. We’ve got more about school desegregation, Liberty U seceding, vouchers, and LGBTQ+:

School desegregation plans meet fierce opposition from affluent white and Asian parents, at AP.

I heard a lot of things said during these meetings which sounded almost verbatim like the things that were said in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s to prevent the integration of schools in Richmond and around the country.

VA redistricting meetingNew from Falwell: A new plan to secede from Virginia and join West Virginia. At RNS.

“Many counties (in Virginia) are taking a long hard look at escaping the barbaric, totalitarian and corrupt Democratic regime that is trampling on individual rights throughout the state,” Falwell said.

It’s getting harder and harder to oppose full rights for LGBTQ+: Fifth Third Bank announces it will no longer donate to a Florida charter-school program. Why? Because some schools were accused of anti-LGBTQ bias. At FlaPol.

Larry Cuban: What tech can’t do in classrooms.

no piece of software, portfolio of apps, or learning management system can replace teachers simply because teaching is a helping profession like medicine and psychotherapy. Helping professions are completely dependent upon interactions with patients, clients, and students for success. . . . Designers and entrepreneurs overestimate their product’s power to make change and underestimate the power of organizations to keep things as they are.

Making the case for Espinoza, at L&L.

It is not unreasonable for the Montana Supreme Court to conclude that the state’s scholarship program violates the state’s Blaine Amendment, but there is every reason to conclude that the State’s Blaine Amendment violates the Free Exercise Clause. States should not be able to discriminate on the basis of religion unless they have a compelling reason to do so, and there is certainly no compelling reason in this case.

The weird politics of religious discrimination in today’s SCOTUS, at Atlantic.

But for Montana, to hear conservative justices tell it, the sin of religious bigotry is the mark of Cain, a stain that can never be completely washed out. The state’s educational system must be changed at once to atone for the 1889 no-aid provision. In fact, its guilt is so profound that it must revive a defunct school-scholarship program that included religious schools.

The new (old) eugenicism, at AS.

[Bret] Stephens’s line of argument displays a particularly problematic use of science (or at least an appeal to scientific authority) as a tool to justify specious claims. . . . The problems with Stephens’s column go well beyond the questionable scientific merit of a cherry-picked article. Much more troubling is the invocation of science as a neutral arbiter of truths about race and intelligence.

moral defectives shapiroWhen colleges combine, will non-Christian faculty be purged? At NYT.

Swirling Round the Superbowl

Okay, nerds, here are some greatest Superbowl hits from the ILYBYGTH archives so you can feel involved in today’s festivities.

jesus_football

…to the ten…to the five…JESUS CHRIST with the TOUCHDOWN!!!!!

1.) What’s the deal with football and fundamentalism? Liberty University’s coaching hire last year had us all wondering once again what really matters at evangelical universities.

2.) The teams aren’t the same, but this culture-war drinking game idea from 2015 should still work.

3.) Why is school reform pricier than two entire Superbowls? The question came up back in August, 2017, but it is still sort of depressing.

4.) Tommy Brady and Bill Belichick help explain why school reform is so difficult.

Song of the Day

For no particular reason, here’s our Song of the Day. Enjoy!

Anti-LGBTQ: Follow the Anti-Evolution Road

It must be a difficult time to oppose full inclusion for LGBTQ children. Two major banks have pulled out of a Florida voucher school program. Why? Because the program supported schools that discriminated against LGBTQ students, families, and teachers. The historian in me can’t help but wonder: Will anti-LGBTQ conservatives repeat the century-old model of anti-evolution activism?

I know it is silly to make predictions based on the past, but the anti-LGBTQ movement among conservative Christians certainly seems to be following the road laid down a century ago by anti-evolution activists. Here is how it worked back then:

Phase 1: We Are the Real Christians. In this phase, conservative intellectuals tried to fight the growing sense that their conservatism made them something new. Instead, conservatives insisted they were only upholding the time-tested truths of real Christianity. Their opposition to evolution, they insisted, did not make them anything other than “Christians.”

For example, in 1923 James M. Gray of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago lamented the tendency of anti-evolution “Fundamentalists” to call themselves anything other than “Christians.” As Gray put it,

As a matter of fact, not a few church members . . . believe that Fundamentalism is some new thing and some awful heresy that must metaphorically, be stamped out. . . . dear brethren, do not let the old name slip away from us. . . . It is a name that stands for the pure and complete gospel of Jesus Christ, a name that has never been identified with any movement, fanaticism, or fad, and which has been made so sacred to us by its defenders in all the years.

Phase 2: Scare Tactics. In the 1920s, evolution came to represent the best of modern science to many Americans. Conservative anti-evolution activists found themselves suddenly on the defensive, needing to prove to their co-religionists that evolution was truly dangerous. Many of them, like evangelist T.T. Martin, found themselves using more and more extreme language to describe the threat posed by evolution. As Martin wrote in 1923,

Ramming poison down the throats of our children is nothing compared with damning their souls with the teaching of Evolution.

Phase 3: Fight for our Right. At the same time, conservative anti-evolution Christians campaigned to purge public institutions of evolutionary ideas. At my alma mater the University of Wisconsin, for example, in 1921 William Jennings Bryan taunted President Edward Birge to either ban evolution or post the following signs on all classrooms:

Our class rooms furnish an arena in which a brutish doctrine tears to pieces the religious faith of young men and young women; parents of the children are cordially invited to witness the spectacle.

Phase 4: A School of Our Own. When those fights failed, anti-evolution conservatives turned inward. They founded schools of their own that would teach an anti-evolution version of Christianity. As evangelist Bob Jones Sr. described his new school in 1928,

Fathers and mothers who place their sons and daughters in our institution can go to sleep at night with no haunting fear that some skeptical teachers will steal the faith of their precious children.

At first glance, the anti-LGBTQ wing of conservative Christianity seems to be following the same path. Just like the 1920s, these days conservatives are confronted with rapidly changing mainstream attitudes. Back then, it was evolution. These days, it is about gender and sexuality.

Save our Schools Cover Art jpg

Will anti-LGBTQ activists in the 2020s follow the path of anti-evolution activists in the 1920s?

And we’ve seen a similar pattern. For example, as I noted in a recent commentary in the Washington Post, conservative Christians like Karen Pence often defend their anti-LGBTQ attitudes as simply traditional or (small-o) “orthodox” Christianity.

Second, anti-LGBTQ conservatives work hard these days to convince their fellow Christians that LGBTQ rights present a dire threat. For example, creationist activist Ken Ham has long warned of creeping LGBTQ acceptance. As Ham wrote back in 2015,

From what we’ve seen and know about the LGBT movement, the leaders don’t just want legalization of their immmoral behavior, but also want to force acceptance of this on everyone. They want everyone not just to tolerate their position, but to accept it while they themselves show intolerance for those who do not hold to their views.

Next, anti-LGBTQ Christians have certainly been competing for influence within mainstream institutions. From California to Missouri, activists have tried hard to purge public schools and libraries of pro-LGBTQ ideas. Most often, just as anti-evolution activists did in the 1920s, anti-LGBTQ activists have lost.

And some of them have moved to Phase 4. Perhaps most famously, crunchy conservative Rod Dreher has called for the Benedict Option, separating from an irredeemably corrupt mainstream society to form purer enclaves where traditional ideas of sexuality and gender can dominate.

How will it all play out? History is a famously bad guide to the future, but the trajectory of anti-evolution activism offers a few possibilities. Back in the 1920s, opposing mainstream science worked. Schools and colleges that planted a flag for anti-evolutionary “fundamentalism” thrived.

In Illinois, for example, Wheaton College declared itself an anti-evolution institution in 1925 and its enrollment grew in leaps and bounds. Between 1916 and 1928, enrollment at Wheaton grew by four hundred percent. (By way of contrast, similar non-fundamentalist colleges in the area grew by an average of 46%.)

The benefits of standing outside the mainstream had their costs, however. Back in the 1920s, anti-evolution fundamentalists tended to believe in a far less radical form of creationism. Most of them, even the firmest anti-evolution activists among them, still wanted to earn the respect of mainstream scientists. They mostly pooh-poohed radical ideas about a young earth and a sudden, fiat creation of all life.

When anti-evolution activists started their own institutions, however, it gave them the ability to encourage more radical forms of Christian belief. In schools like Bob Jones University, young-earth creationism became the norm. Perhaps because they had given up on mainstream acceptance, they were able to indulge ideas such as young-earth creationism that had absolutely no merit outside the charmed circle of radical-creationist schools.

Will that happen again? It just might. As anti-LGBTQ conservatives read more headlines like the ones we’re seeing today, they might grow more and more convinced that their ideas are unwelcome outside their own circles. It might seem more and more tempting to create separatist institutions in which their own ideas are welcomed. If that happens, perhaps we will see a repeat of the creationist tradition. Namely, the mainstream might grow more and more comfortable with LGTBQ acceptance while a small but energetic minority embraces more and more radical versions of anti-LGTQ thinking.

Espinoza v. Montana: The Case for Discrimination

It’s going to be a long wait until June. That is when we’re expecting the SCOTUS decision in Espinoza v. Montana. You might be sick of reading about this case by now, but here’s one more point to consider: Now is a good time for states to discriminate. Why? They need to discriminate against religious schools to avoid having to choose between good and bad religions.coolidge bible NYT

First, a little background: The issue in Espinoza v. Montana is whether or not states can discriminate between religious schools and secular ones. A parent wanted to use voucher money to send her kid to a religious school. The state’s constitution prohibits state funding of religious schools. The state supreme court said no. SCOTUS now has to weigh in.

SAGLRROILYBYGTH might recall that the “baby Blaine” amendments are often called “bigotry” by Espinoza’s supporters. These amendments—like the one in Montana that prohibits tax money for religious schools—really WERE adopted in an effort to limit Catholic-school influence. However, as we’ve discussed in these pages, Blaine amendments also represented a long tradition of “anti-sectarian” attitudes for public schools.

Recently, Mark David Hall of George Fox University made the case for Espinoza. He acknowledges the emptiness of the “baby-Blaine” argument. As he notes, the 1870s amendment may have been fueled by anti-Catholic bigotry, but it was re-upped in 1972 without any shred of anti-Catholic animus. He concludes by asserting that there is no cause for leaving religious schools out of voucher programs. As he puts it,

States should not be able to discriminate on the basis of religion unless they have a compelling reason to do so, and there is certainly no compelling reason in this case.

I agree with the first half of this sentence but not the second. States should not discriminate without a compelling reason. But the history of the twentieth century makes it clear: Society does indeed have a compelling case to limit its public support for religious institutions.

Back in the 1920s, it was widely assumed that public schools must actively teach a generic, non-denominational Christian religiosity. For example, between 1913 and 1930, eleven states passed mandatory Bible-reading laws. (Massachusetts already had one on the books, from 1826.) These laws had enormous public support. They were often seen as teaching simple moral truths, not divisive religious practices. Advocates commonly claimed that such basic religious ideas were a necessary part of any healthy society. For example, President Calvin Coolidge wrote in 1927,

The foundations of our society and our Government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings should cease to be practically universal in our country.

Throughout the first half of the 1900s, most public schools continued the traditions of the 1800s. Public schools were supposed to be “non-sectarian.” At the time, that meant they should not teach specific, controversial ideas about baptism or priesthood. But they included practices that were seen as non-controversial, such as Bible reading and reciting the Lord’s prayer. Public schools often arranged for students to be pulled out of school to learn specific denominational religious practices.

Over the course of the twentieth century, though, Americans’ opinions about the proper role of religion in public schools changed. By 1963, when SCOTUS heard the case of Abington Township v. Schempp, Bible-reading and teacher-led prayer were no longer seen as non-controversial. What if a non-religious student felt excluded? Or a non-Christian one? Even if they were allowed to skip the prayer or the Bible?

In 1970, SCOTUS reinforced the new vision of the proper role of government in school religion. In Lemon v. Kurtzman, the court laid out its famous three-prong “Lemon test.” In judging complicated cases of schools and religion, the court ruled that any law must 1.) have a secular purpose; 2.) neither promote nor inhibit religion; and 3.) avoid “excessive government entanglement with religion.”

When it comes to Espinoza, the dangers arise from the overthrow of these Lemon rules. States like Montana do indeed have a compelling reason to leave all religious schools out of their funding programs. If they do not, they will have to decide which religious schools to include and which to exclude, or simply to include all religious schools.PG prayer okee dokee

It seems too obvious to need elaboration, but neither religious groups nor state governments should want to put state governments in charge of choosing “legitimate” religion. As Curmudgucrat Peter Greene put it far better than I ever could, governments would need to establish

the Official Bureau of Religious Okee Dokeeness; now the state will determine which religious groups are “legitimate” or not.

If, on the other hand, states decide simply to include ALL religious groups in voucher programs, they will need to be prepared for the fallout. Certainly, that will include religions that endorse anti-LGBTQ ideas or racist ones. It will include religions that force brutal, even fatal “healing” services on children. It will also include churches of flying spaghetti monsters and Satan.

Is any state really ready for that?

They are not. We are not. I agree with Professor Hall that states should avoid discriminating against religious groups without a compelling reason. That might mean providing playground equipment for a religious school is okay. But when it comes to sending tax dollars to the actual religious schools themselves, states have a very compelling reason to avoid wading into religious wars.