Voucher Vanguard: Indiana's Daniels Is Just the Tip of an Ominous Iceberg

Church & State, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Voucher Vanguard: Indiana's Daniels Is Just the Tip of an Ominous Iceberg


America's public school system and the constitutional separation of church and state are under relentless assault.

In late April, the Indiana legislature approved House Bill 1003, a measure that broadly funds religious and other private schools. The multimillion-dollar program sets up a new school voucher scheme, expands a tax credit program and offers tax deductions for the costs of private education and homeschooling.

Gov. Mitch Daniels was a chief promoter of the package, and he clearly means to force taxpayers to fund religious education. He is the founder and driving force behind The Oaks Academy, a "Christ-centered" private school in Indianapolis. Daniels sometimes poses as a moderate, but his education plan is anything but.

Make no mistake. This is not about "education reform." This is part of a national drive to radically privatize education. Indiana is just one of many states where mega-bucks foundations and sectarian interest groups are demanding taxpayer dollars for parochial and other private schools. Their long-term goal is to shut down the public school system or leave it so damaged that its role in American life is minimal.

In October 2010, Religious Right godfather Tim LaHaye addressed the Council for National Policy about his goals for education. (The secretive CNP is the premier meeting place for Religious Right zealots, TV preachers, right-wing fat cats and others who want to take America back to the Dark Ages.) He viciously mischaracterized the public schools and issued a call to arms for the CNP and its allies to remake them.

"I have a pet concern," said LaHaye, the fundamentalist preacher and "Left Behind" author who founded the CNP. "And I think it is the concern of everyone in this room; and that is we are being destroyed in America by the public school systems of our country. And it was Abraham Lincoln who said, essentially, let me educate the children of this generation and they will be the political leaders of the next generation.

"And, folks, we have let the enemy come in and take over the greatest school system in the history of the world," he continued. "At one time, Noah Webster was the school master of America, a dedicated Christian who founded people on the Word of God and principles of God. And I'd like to see you join me in prayer that God would let us wrestle control of the American school system from the secularists, the anti-Christians and anti-Americans that want to bend the minds of our children.

"At our expense," LaHaye blustered, "they want to take the most priceless thing we have--the brains of our children--and let them educate them. …

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