Seeing isn’t believing; believing is seeing—at least when it comes to the Loch Ness Monster. As it turns out, students in private Christian schools across Louisiana use textbooks that claim the monster was a dinosaur that existed at the same time as humans. Supposedly, this claim creates a conflict with the theory of evolution. The problem isn’t that someone thinks Loch Ness is a “dinosaur” that lives, or that it’s teaching creationism. Rather, it’s the publically funded school vouchers paying for Nessie’s spreading fame.
Before heading to the Bayou State, first a visit to the Supreme Court. In 2002, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris ruled in a 5-4 decision that an Ohio vouchers program did not violate the clause of the First Amendment. Though 96 percent of the students in the program wound up in religiously affiliated schools, the majority claimed that since the parents were free to choose among a variety of schools, the state was not involved in any establishment of religion.
Then there’s the 2011 case upholding Arizona school vouchers. Arizona taxpayers brought suit against the state for a program that used tax credits to deliver government money to the religious school of a parent’s choice. The five conservatives on the court argued that since the program relied on a tax credit to individuals, the plaintiffs’ taxes themselves were not being used for the program.
I have to hand it to the Justices—they know how to use language, and practice some judicial activism. Publicly funded school vouchers infringe upon religious liberty and separation of church and state. For Baptists to support this is like, well, believing in the Loch Ness monster.
Baptists are better than this. Our heritage recognizes that anyone can believe what they want, but not at the risk of everyone else. Religiously affiliated education has a place—the church classroom, not the public school classroom. Yet there are those that will say that the “God-ness” of our country erodes away, and Christians must rise to take back our country!
Before I grab my pitchfork to chase down the monster known as “secularism,” I cannot help but wonder if this does more harm than good. Would it not be a better idea if those who run private schools receiving publicly funded vouchers taught both? If God is so great as to create not only a dinosaur with a name like “Nessie,” but also protect that dinosaur for centuries, couldn’t that God stand to have evolution taught side by side? Or, is that like suggesting the Loch Ness monster is phantasmal?
If any Baptists in the Pelican State are still reading, I simply ask, would you mind talking to those schools a bit? It’s not about what people believe so much as what it says people cannot believe. If those running the schools are not willing to open the conversation I suggest they teach that storks bring babies. I’d be happy—there’s no religious preference there.