We Must Spare No Diligence:
The State and Childhood Education
Not surprisingly, education continues to be one of the most persistent arenas of controversy about the relationship of church and state in the United States. As one of the few public functions that still involves significant local community input and strong parental involvement, education touches a large majority of American cidzens as taxpayers, parents, students, teachers, and school officials. Controversies over K-12 education also expose most of the critical divisions remaining in American society on religion and values, reflecting diverse, incommensurable presuppositions about human nature and human well-being. The stakes in education are high, since education so strongly influences the individual's ability to be successfully involved in the social and economic world in a modern, literate culture and plays a critical role in any democratic nation's ability to govern itself and to prosper.1
Amid the paradoxes exposed by their faith and the pluralism of their culture, American Lutherans often find themselves pulled in two directions: toward active, prophetic criticism of public educational values discordant with their faith and toward support for education as an institution critical in the preservation of modern society. The American tradition of the separation of church and state so taxes Lutherans who attempt to live faithfully to the insight that the earthly and spiritual governances are radically different but wholly inseparable that it is difficult to construct a Lutheran position on decisions involving public and private education in the United States. This article will instead suggest how values and assumptions of Lutheran thought and American constitutional law might influence Lutheran citizens' thinking about public policy on education. The separation of church and state, of religious teaching and disciplines concerned with “earthly” life, does have its positive side: Such separation might
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Publication information: Book title: Church and State: Lutheran Perspectives. Contributors: John R. Stumme - Editor, Robert W. Tuttle - Editor. Publisher: Fortress Press. Place of publication: Minneapolis. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 119.
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