Aid to Schools
Myron S. Steeves
MSSteeves at AOL.COM
Sun Apr 20 20:41:24 PDT 1997
I don't know of any published accounts on the issue of changes in the
attitudes of evangelicals toward government aid to religious schools, and I
would be suspicious of any such account. As a product of an evangelical
grade school myself, I can recall school administrators and parents during
the early 60's lamenting the injustice of having to pay taxes to support
public schools, but not being able to benefit more from those taxes
themselves. However, it was always seen as a purely financial issue, never
as a purely regulatory matter.
To the extent there has been any change in attitudes toward this issue among
evangelicals in thirty years, I think it can be traced to two things. There
are increasingly more evangelicals sending their children to private schools.
As with many tax issues, outrage doesn't really become noticeable to others
until a critical mass of outraged people is reached. Few care a great deal
about taxation issues until they hit home. My personal observation is that
evangelicals who send their children to public schools generally oppose aid
to private religious schools on financial grounds, to the extent that they
care about the issue at all. This might explain your perception that
evangelicals were not noticeably outspoken on this issue unil they started
opening schools as extensively as Catholics.
Also, Lemon hurt the religious schools. The school I attended as a youth
enjoyed benefits from the state that would be unthinkable post-Lemon. There
was little reason to speak out against government regulation before 1971. In
fact, the administrators at my school admired what the Catholic schools had
done in creating a model for Protestent schools.
Myron S. Steeves
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