Our Schools and the Proposed IRS Rules

A few remarks concerning this entire matter are in order, I believe. 

First of all, we make a few remarks concerning the practical aspect of the proposed IRS regulations. 

In the first place, it remains to be seen what direction the IRS will take if the new regulations are allowed to stand. I have an idea that the regulations are not aimed primarily at schools of the kind which we maintain, but, as I suggested earlier, at the type of private schools (religious or non-religious or pseudo-religious) which proliferated at the time when integration of public schools became the law of the land. Especially in certain parts of the country undoubtedly a goodly number of schools were established with the avowed purpose of escaping integration. I am not now concerned with the right or wrong of such schools; nor am I concerned as such with the right of existence of such schools as private, not-for-profit, tax-exempt organizations. I am merely stating that it may very well be that the guns of the IRS will be trained especially on such schools, and that traditionally religious schools and school systems of long standing will escape IRS attention, at least for the time being. In other words, the danger may not be immediate.

Nevertheless, in the second place, we do well to be ready for an attack. If the regulations are approved, the principle is there and the machinery or weaponry is there for an attack on any and all private schools, including our own. 

I have already suggested that we use whatever means are available to us in fighting this attempt to impose these new regulations by protesting both to the IRS and to Congress. And if it becomes necessary, let us also fight the matter in the courts of the land. These means are available for us to use, and it is right to use them. Nor, as the Bob Jones case indicates, is it impossible to win against the IRS in court, especially when it comes to a case involving constitutional liberties which have long been maintained in our country.

Secondly, however, some remarks concerning principles are in order. 

In the first place, we ought to take warning from the current events that there are some powerful forces at work against OUT schools. There are the forces of the public school movement and especially the teachers’ unions. Some of these organizations are mentioned in the reports quoted in the two previous editorials. They hate the private school not only, but they hate the Christian school. They see these as a threat, both educationally and financially, to the public school. This accounts for their violent opposition to parochiaid—and we shared the opposition, but not for their reasons. This accounts, too, for their present support of the proposed IRS regulations: they see these as a means to thwart the private school movement. Besides, there are power-intoxicated forces in the federal government who are apparently bent on compelling everyone and every organization, even private and religious organizations, to conform to their standards with regard, for example, to non-discrimination and racial integration. Their policy seems to be: conform, or we will do our utmost to destroy you. In the third place, there are powerful forces of religionists, representatives of the false church, at work who have the same aims and who identify their social gospel ideas with true religion and who would gladly see the demise of any religious movement, church, school, which does not conform to their ideas. In effect, they would gladly see the establishment of religion in this country, provided it is their—Antichristian—religion. 

We may expect that these forces will become stronger, not weaker. And we may expect—I do not know how soon it will be—that eventually they will make our place as Christians smaller and smaller, and finally impossible, here in the world. We must be prepared! We must not begin to compromise! 

In the second place, we ought to see that what is really at stake in the current conflict is the right of private, parental education. The aim is not merely to deprive us of tax-exempt status; the latter is the weapon. The aim is to destroy the private school, to deprive it of its very private character and right of self-determination. And I call your attention to the fact that this is a right which has long been recognized in this country, and in some states (Michigan among them) it is recognized in the constitution. But more than this, is the duty, the God-given duty, of parental education. It is the duty, the sacred calling, of covenantal education which is involved. It is not the calling of the government to educate our children or to interfere in that education. That is our calling as parents before the face of God. No government may interfere with that or try to make it impossible. That is a principle. 

In the third place, it is certainly true (whether with regard to church schools or with regard to our parental Christian schools) that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion is involved in this conflict. In that connection, it is rather ironic that the IRS is so concerned about minorities when they are racial minorities, but altogether overlooks the fact that our Christian schools—and is that not especially true of our small Protestant Reformed schools?—are minority schools! Only, of course, they are schools of a religious minority. But again, while that constitutional guarantee is of great importance, what is even more important is that the maintenance and confession and application (with reference to education) of our Reformed and Christian principles are at stake in this conflict. Them we may not and them we cannot and them we shall not forsake, by God’s grace! 

Again: let us be spiritually prepared for the battle! 

(Editor’s Note. It wasn’t a conspiracy, but pure coincidence. I had completed my editorials, and Rev. VanBaren’s regular article for this issue arrived in the mail. Lo and behold! His first title and mine were exactly alike! You know what they say about great men’s minds. . . .)