Government Control Over Christian Schools

Many in the state of Michigan are rejoicing over a court ruling which appears to loosen a bit the grasp of “big brother” from parochial and private Christian schools. The increasingly oppressive regulations of the state threaten the very existence of the Christian schools. In the Grand Rapids’ Press, James Kilpatrick, a syndicated writer, stated.

The First Amendment says flatly that Congress shall make “no law” respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. That provision many years ago was extended to state legislature as well as to the Congress. 

But the sovereign state of Michigan, in patent indifference to the First Amendment, enacted a law that provides on its face for “the supervision of denominational and parochial schools.” The act demands a certain “course of studies” in such schools. Under the law, all teachers at these schools must obtain state certification. 

There is still more to this Michigan law. Section 4 of the act authorizes the state superintendent of public instruction to close non-complying schools and to force their students to attend public schools. One of the purposes of the act, not so explicitly stated, is to recover for the public schools the $2,000 in state aid that is lost whenever a pupil goes to a private school.

Time magazine, January 10, 1983, presented a lengthy report on this same decision. Some of its comments were:

The independence of that ministry was resoundingly upheld last week. In a strong, unambiguous decision, a Michigan judge reaffirmed the First Amendment guarantee of separation of church and state by exempting private Christian schools from state supervision of their curriculum and teachers. Ministers, teachers and parents of the Bridgeport Baptist Academy and the Sheridan Road Christian School, both near Saginaw, had charged that attempts by the state’s board of education to supervise curriculum and teacher qualifications violated their religious freedom. Judge Ray Hotchkiss agreed, ruling that the board, by imposing its secular standards of education on religious schooling, “interfered with plaintiffs’ constitutional right to freely exercise their religion.” Said Hotchkiss: “This court fails to see a compelling state interest in requiring nonpublic schools to be of the ‘same standard’ as public schools in the same district. Such a scheme does not ensure even a minimum degree of quality of education.” Hotchkiss, however, did uphold the state’s right to impose on the Christian schools health and safety requirements, to which they had never objected. . . . 

In the Michigan trial, the issue of teacher certification turned out to be more of an embarrassment to state officials than to the Christian schools. Education experts could not agree on which standards the Christian teachers needed to follow, nor could they prove any link between certified teachers and good education. Noted Judge Hotchkiss, a former public school teacher: “The overwhelming evidence shows that teacher certification does not ensure teacher competency and may even inhibit it.”. . . He called state regulation of private schools “an incredible conflict of interest.” 

. . .Michigan officials intend to appeal Judge Hotchkiss’s verdict. Says Assistant Attorney General Richard Gartner: “The state now has no process to approve non-public schools.”. . .

It remains to be seen what develops from this court decision. It has surely attracted nation-wide attention. It can provide some relief for the Christian schools. Though our schools also do have the required certified teachers and meet other state requirements, this has surely in itself been no guarantee for quality Christian education. The fact remains that, Scripturally, the state has no authority over the education of my children; that is a God-given parental responsibility. We must carry it out then, however sacrificially, to the best of our ability. Nor ought we to succumb to the temptations of asking the state for some kind of financial assistance to carry out our duties. Another warning about that temptation is found in The Christian News, Nov. 29, 1982:

The American Council of Christian Churches. . .is opposed to tuition tax-credits for private schools. 

Government support, direct or indirect, can so easily become government influence in the program and instruction of a school. Almost forgotten is the application of the double imperative in the Scriptural mandate: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” 

The tax credits are based on the superficially attractive notion that government should foster competition between tax supported and privately funded schools by making it more feasible for parents to choose among them. For the Bible-believer, tithes and offerings—not taxes under any guise—are God’s methods of financing Christian education. 

Therefore be it resolved that the American Council of Christian Churches advises its constituent members and Bible-believers everywhere to look above and beyond the emotional and economic expediencies to the Scriptural principles involved. Rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s is a spiritual mandate-for the believer to pay his taxes as a civic duty.

Finally, there is a disturbing letter in The Christian News, Jan. 10, 1983, written by the Vice-president of a certain “Missouri Roundtable.” It appears to present an authentic warning concerning dangers to Christian schools:

This special letter is coming to you to alert you to the fact that our precious American freedom of religion is in serious jeopardy! 

. . .During the first week of December, Congress by voice vote removed what were known as the Ashbrook- Dornan Amendments from an appropriations bill for the IRS. This stripped away the protection enjoyed by private Christian schools and all private schools for the last 206 years. If the situation is not corrected, schools and ultimately churches and individuals will lose their protection from the dictates of government. Believe me, the first amendment of freedom of religion is now in its first stages of assault! 

On August 22, 1978, the IRS had issued regulations that in effect said they had the power to regulate our entire lives because, using their reasoning, every tax deduction or exemption is in fact a subsidy and all subsidies will, of course, be regulated and controlled by the government. This was done under the guise of preventing “discrimination.” 

What does it mean? It means that the IRS, and indeed all of government, can dictate to us all in the private sector of our lives—schools and churches included. The government can now force private schools and even churches to hire people they normally wouldn’t—homosexuals, drug addicts, etc. They can also deny tax exemptions unless a school or church proves itself innocent of vague and nebulous guidelines. Why? “Tax deductions are tax subsidies and therefore belong to the government.” This is the reasoning of the IRS and many of our liberal law makers. 

Action is needed immediately! Contact your Congressmen and Senators and ask them to support what is known as the Ashbrook-Dornan Amendment to the appropriations bill for the IRS. Your Senators and Congressmen can be reached by asking for them through the Capitol switchboard (1-202-224-3121), or by writing to them in care of House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515; or U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510. Please don’t delay.

The above letter appears to be an authentic warning. A few years ago, the Congress placed restrictions on the IRS when they began playing loose and free with the “tax deductions are government subsidies” idea. Now if this restriction is taken away, the Christian schools would be hearing from the government again—and perhaps lose their right to continue to operate. But all of this, one can expect in these last days.

Marriage Report

The GKN in the Netherlands has adopted a “Marriage Report” according to the R.E.S. News Exchange. In its issue of December 7, 1982, it reports:

“Faithful in love” is the title of a report on marriage and other personal relationships adopted by the general synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN). The synod rejected the criticism of its advisory committee that the report fails to incorporate an exegetical study. One delegate, Rev. G.H. Homans, articulated the view of many synodical delegates when he said that there was no need for such a study. A delegate from, the “Youth Synod” noted that in youth circles the report had been received with ‘great enthusiasm.’ He said, “We do not wish to abolish marriage, but other forms of relationships are not unbiblical.”

But anyone with a simple understanding of Scripture, and professing its infallibility, knows what the Bible teaches concerning .homosexuality and fornication. The above “Marriage Report” can not alter plain Scriptural teachings in the eyes of God.