Herbert London: Imposing Social Dogmatism
There are no longer any limits in the radical secular mission to indoctrinate youngsters in the West.
It was recently reported that an English private school for Orthodox Jewish girls aged three to eight is facing closure because it does not teach students about gender reassignment or homosexuality.
The government’s Office of Standards in Education argues the school must conform to the secular standards of the state. If enforced, as it seems to be, religious families would not be allowed to educate their children in accordance with their faith.
The act states: “the responsible body of such a school must not discriminate against a pupil… in the way it provides education.” In other words, bureaucrats assume they must force prepubescent girls to learn about sexual orientation. Should such teaching violate Jewish faith, the faith will have to change. The school is ipso facto “inadequate.”
Even though the school excels at teaching secular subjects, it does not teach explicitly about issues such as sexual orientation thereby “restricting pupils’ moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunities that take into account…differing lifestyles.” All this in a curriculum for eight year olds.
Here is a transparent example of soft totalitarianism. Secular dogma will be imposed, although it is not clear how spiritual and moral development will take place with these children. Can one ascertain that a typical British bureaucrat is more wise than a rabbi or priest? Is the expression of one’s religion any less of a British value than secularism?
The head of the Standards office maintains that there is a need for “young people to have the knowledge and resilience…to resist extremism.” Presumably this means eight year olds must imbibe the fundamentals of fellatio. “The law expects schools to demonstrate that they are encouraging pupils to take a respectful and tolerant stance towards those who hold values different from their own.” If there were any justice in this matter, this statement would be a standard employed by educational bureaucrats. After all, it is the government that is expressing intolerance of a different “lifestyle.”
What this episode suggests is that children cannot be permitted to learn in accordance with their faith. They are now in the iron grip of secular dogmatism.
In the present atmosphere, religious conservatives and social radicals are in a prison of their own making, a prison in which compromise cannot exist. Had British bureaucrats looked at the Vishnitz Girls School differently, it could have presented an accommodation or exemption that might have led to a satisfactory resolution. But that, of course, would have violated the zero tolerance paradigm of the British bureaucrats. In this all or nothing conflict, nondiscrimination is a threat that ignites moral conflict. The question that remains is what is left of real diversity after the political landscape has been dredged of religious ideas. In England, we have an answer.
This answer is not yet clear in the United States. But as long as the educational curriculum is controlled by state authorities, it is only a question of time in this politically correct hothouse for a state to suggest that religious schools must adhere to a secular curriculum designed to promote the cultural attitudes of the Zeitgeist. In New York City, for example, the pamphlet “Heather Has Two Mommies” was distributed to public schools. It doesn’t require a major leap of faith to see this injunction applied to denominational schools as well as some time in the future.
Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org
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