Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

My Photo
Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Monday, February 20, 2006

If you're not for us . . .

you're against us. That attitude, it seems, is a primary reason for the rapid growth of private schools in Alabama. The executive director of the Alabama Christian Education Association has this to say:

"Most people I deal with tend to believe that public education is moving toward creating a secular, globally thinking person as opposed to educating a person with Christian values," he said. "It's education with an agenda, and their agenda is anti-Christian."

Of course, there are many reasons to send your kids to private school, and educating your child in your religious tradition is certainly a valid reason to send your kid to a religious school. What strikes me about the attitude summarized in this quote is the idea that 'creating a secular, globally thinking person' is seen as 'opposed to . . . Christian values' and even 'anti-Christian.'

First, that anyone could accuse an Alabama public school of being anti-christian is remarkable. See, for example, this case, describing the teacher's practice of taking prayer requests before each class.

Second, and more essentially, a secular globally thinking person is not a person opposed to Christianity. Such a person is an individual who understands that people have different religious beliefs, yet is capable of interacting with all those other people in a humane and rational manner. For someone confident in their faith, it seems that this attitude would only strengthen it. That faith would have been tested in the marketplace of ideas. Hence, it would end up stronger, and deeper, than before. And for those of an evangelical bent, exposure to other ideas would also aid them in spreading their own. They would be better able to communicate them.