Parental Schools—How Long Yet?

We have enjoyed our parental schools for the instruction of covenant seed for many years now. We tend to take the opportunity and privilege for granted. We are inclined to tell ourselves that in this “free” land, we need not be concerned about any danger of losing these schools. But are we being too complacent? Ought we not to see the “handwriting on the wall”? One of the signs of the times is that there will be a suppression of that which is spiritual. That suppression can quickly come in our land under the guise of maintaining the “rights” of the citizens. We ought to be aware of the dangers. 

There are times when Christian parents become resentful of the fact that the government, can tax them for the instruction of children in this land—while at the same time they have to pay well-nigh the full cost of instructing their own children in Christian schools. It seems so unfair. And often one is inclined to propose ways in which the government will be able to assist us in maintaining our own schools. There are those in some Christian school systems who are actively seeking to obtain additional governmental assistance. But all of these efforts, it seems to me, play into the hand of “big government,” for it gives the government the opportunity to make restrictions and demands upon these schools which assuredly would be unacceptable to the Christian. It will not be so simple a thing as simply refusing additional governmental assistance—if unwelcome demands accompany assistance. One can not put his head into the mouth of a lion—and believe that he can freely extricate it whenever he feels that the teeth tighten too uncomfortably about the neck. 

Several items called to my attention the real threat of governmental restrictions on parental schools. Our own schools have been required to place in their constitutions a non-discrimination clause. At first the requirement was that this non-discrimination must include race and religion. In light of the nature of a Christian school, one could hardly promise nondiscrimination in religion. Originally, in order to maintain a tax-exempt status, Covenant Christian High School was requested to include in its constitution that “admission will not be denied on the grounds of religion, creed, race, color or national Origin.” The society refused to adopt the words “religion and creed” in the statement, though there was not basic objection to the remaining portion of this clause. To the present date, the government has considered this to be acceptable—but the time may soon come when Christian schools are required to accept all, without regard to “creed or religion.” 

The Grand Rapids Press recently reported that the government soon will no longer allow schools, private schools, to exist where members of only one race attend. The idea was that schools which were formed to avoid “integration” would no longer be permitted. The article added that schools established for religious instruction would not be involved. Yet one can see the inevitable. The same government which insists that it is not “right” to separate races in the giving of instruction, can quickly and logically insist that it is not “right” to separate children of differing religions when giving instruction. Many have already suggested that it is the “right” of all children to choose and have the opportunity to choose any religion they wish. This would mean that they can not receive only the type of religious instruction that their parents would have them to receive, but rather they must receive a diverse instruction where the children themselves can choose as they wish. 

An article I recently received of a reader from theNational Review of Feb. 20, 1976, shows further attempts of government to regulate the schools.

The latest fell stroke in the campaign of our federal bureaucracy to de-privatize everything and everybody is a ukase issued by a female functionary of HEW: a decree that, beginning this term, all universities and colleges that accept students who received grants, scholarships, or loans through the medium of HEW must comply with all sorts of federal regulations—particularly with “Affirmative Action” directives. 

Mark you, the independent universities and colleges in question don’t themselves receive grants or loans from the Federal Government: rather, some of their students (perhaps only a handful) are the beneficiaries of HEW largesse. Even so, the “independent” college president is supposed to obey Big Brother, or Big Sister. 

In the case of HEW’s latest ploy to control independent colleges, the authority cited is Title 9 of the federal Educational Amendments of 1972. An obscure provision therein is interpreted to mean that, for a beginning, private colleges which accept students with federal benefactions must comply fully with the notions of Affirmative Action—with other Washington controls to follow.

It was only when some colleges, including Hillsdale in Michigan, opposed this decision, that HEW decided to “further study” their directive. The point is that the government has already attempted to enforce regulations on private colleges even though these had not received federal subsidies. The basis of the action was that some students had received some kind of governmental assistance. This sort of thing one can expect to encounter increasingly. The government can use any sort of opening in order to enforce its own regulations on private and Christian schools. 

The same article in National Review pointed out that in some of the states the control exercised by state government is even more restrictive than that of the national government. It points out the instance of New York State. There is a certain aid paid by the state to participating colleges. But the article points out that in accepting this aid, the “colleges must surrender their birthright. If church-related colleges, they must declare themselves secular colleges henceforth; if Catholic colleges, they must disavow hereafter the word and the belief ‘Catholic.'” The article points out that the following restrictions were laid down for “Catholic” colleges:

1. If religious studies and philosophy courses are included in the core curriculum, the number of credit hours required in these two disciplines cannot be disproportionate to those mandated in other fields. 

2. No student may be forced to attend chapel or to enroll in any course in theology. 

3. Catalogues, student and faculty handbooks, charters, and other publications by the college must be submitted for review to the state educational functionaries; such publications must not contain any suggestion that the college has religious purposes. 

4. The college’s board of trustees must have lay members in the majority, and no fixed number of religious may be specified as members of the board; nor may bishops, superiors of orders, and the like be ex officio members of such boards. 

5. A team of Protestant theologians is sent to every formerly “Catholic” college that takes Bundy Money, to interview all members of the college’s faculty who teach religion or philosophy. This Protestant team will demand full information about the background of the faculty, about the content of courses, and about all final examinations given. “The team also inspects the library to ascertain if there is a disproportionate number of Catholic books.”

The above does indicate increasing attempts of government to control private and religious schools. No doubt this attempt at control will be a developing sort of thing. We can expect this to be affecting also our schools. We need not think that we will escape. There will be given logical and “constitutional” reasons for making unreasonable and anti-scriptural demands or for closing schools. But the time’ is coming—and may be very near. 

What are we to do? First, we are obviously to be aware of the dangers which threaten. One can not close his eyes to events of our day and pretend that all things continue as they always were. The signs of the times surely will affect the cause of Christian education too. 

Secondly, we ought not to give government the occasion to insist that they have the ,”right” to make unlawful demands upon us because we have willingly received their financial assistance. Repeatedly, government has done this. We must never give the appearance of justification for their unreasonable demands. Of course, eventually government will make its unrighteous demands even without any semblance of justification. 

Finally, let us continue faithfully and diligently in the instruction of our covenant seed. The time is short. The opportunities presently enjoyed may shortly be taken from us. Then we are to labor while it is day—knowing that the night is at hand. But we know in all of this, that shortly our Lord shall return on the clouds of glory. For that, we look and pray.