Drawing The Line

by Blair Adams
From Number 59 – December 1992
(from Who Owns the Children? (1991) p. 292)

It certainly appears, on the surface and in the short run, easier to come to some sort of compromise with the State and allow it to have some say in the education of our children. Yet such a compromise can only feebly palliate our position for that day when the State comes and insists that we must teach what we conscientiously oppose. Minimum Requirements do indeed appear reasonable. And probably few Christian parents or schools fail to teach their children the basic subjects that the proponents of this view include in their list of prescribed courses. … This is quite different, however, from acknowledging that the State has the right to compel us to teach our children these things, particularly when the State has so miserably failed in teaching “its” own children these very requirements.

Moreover, once we grant this principle, where can we possibly draw the line? If we agree that the State has the legitimate authority to mandate the teaching of that which society generally agrees as essential to social communication and good citizenship because we may agree with those basic requirements today, what if tomorrow the consensus of an increasingly corrupt society (as in Nazi Germany) goes beyond our prior agreement? If tomorrow we say that we cannot agree to the State’s requirements, then we can only in good conscience refuse to submit to those requirements if we deny that the State ever had that rightful authority in the first place. If the State has legitimate power to control education, then obviously that control cannot be defined by those over whom it is to be exercised. Either the State has the legitimate power or it does not. If we accept any governmental authority in this area today, we greatly weaken and compromise our position for the battles that will inevitably come tomorrow. Unless we confess now that absolute, given limits prevent us from submitting in good conscience to any governmental control of education, we shall have compromised our position for the future.