10 Frightening Things That Happen at Conservative Christian Schools That May Be Funded With Your Tax Dollars
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School vouchers have long been a pet cause of Christian school advocates who want to shore up profits and increase their ranks. In 2002, the United States Supreme Court ruled that public funds designated for private school tuition were not an infringement on church/state separation. That gave private Christian school advocates a green light to promote vouchers for themselves.
Though vouchers have become legal in some states, like Ohio, others, like North Carolina, are still holding out. Either way, Christian school advocates show no signs of slowing down their efforts. One reason vouchers remain so contested is that they sometimes fund activities in private Christian schools that many American taxpayers would not want to support. Here are 10 strange things that happen at Christian schools that may give you pause next time vouchers are debated in your state:
1. Inflammatory anti-choice rhetoric. You might think grade school is a bit young to start learning violent anti-choice rhetoric. Luke Jones, who graduated from an Alabama Church of Christ school in 2004, tells AlterNet it started around the sixth grade. “I remember my English teacher passing around shocking photographs of dismembered babies. That was where I learned about abortion.” The pictures that feature in these discussions usually picture late-term fetuses terminated as a result of natural miscarriage. This means that they are not at all reflective of aborted fetuses in general, and give children a skewed – and overly emotive – reaction to a medical service.
Material from a 2005 anti-choice handbook called Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue is sometimes used to teach students how to argue with people who are pro-choice. Among the misinformation contained in its pages, the handbook teaches students that serious conditions like preeclampsia, eclampsia, placental previa and placental abruption do not usually endanger a pregnant woman’s life. Moreover, it implies, questions about a woman’s health are just distractions.
Strategies meant to help anti-choicers seem nice in abortion debates may be practiced in classroom role-playing activities. For example, the handbook says, anti-choice proponents sometimes “appear callous by showing no concern for women who die.” Pro-choice advocates, the handbook assures students, sometimes ask about this “to see if you have compassion on the circumstances of women… If you don’t show concern for these women in the midst of your response, you lose.” In other words, women’s well-being is not really the point – anti-choicers must learn to feign compassion for women in order to win arguments.
Some Christian schools use a controversial film – Ray Comfort’s 180 Movie – to insert talking points conflating abortion with the Holocaust.
2. Hands-on anti-choice activism. Sometimes Christian schools go beyond teaching anti-choice propaganda by encouraging students to get involved in anti-choice activism. Oklahoma’s Augustine Christian Academy helped mobilize students to participate in Tulsa’s annual March for Life this year. The school’s Web site still features information about the January protest that instructed students how to get involved. Some Christian schools even transported students to the much bigger March for Life in Washington, DC. A Catholic school in Lafayette brought busloads of students to the Capitol for the event. Not only this, but the school made a weeklong field trip of the march that also included a pro-life mass at the National Basilica and a tour of the Mount Saint Mary's and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine, where students would honor saints revered by the Catholic anti-choice movement.
Christian schools also arrange opportunities for students to assist crisis pregnancy centers – that is, anti-choice organizations set up to look like abortion clinics when their real goal is to convince young women to carry their pregnancy to term. Some schools, like Maryland’s Connelly School of the Holy Child, feature school clubs that organize fund drives to benefit the centers. Others, like Tri-Cities Christian Schools of Tennessee, encourage students to become directly involved in volunteer work at crisis pregnancy centers in the state, where they may assist with anything from filing to conducting intake interviews.