Do we want state-sponsored religion?

To the editor:

To the many things I clip and save from The Journal’s editorial page, I am very pleased to add the June 16th letter in which William Cooling of Madelia listed Supreme Court decisions on religion in the public schools.

But should the commendable desire to have children taught religion translate into endorsing government-sponsored religion? Do we want the government promoting any kind of religion, whether in the public schools or anywhere else? Hardly.

Since education is a religious (or anti-religious) activity, the state should not be involved in it. As Auberon Herbert wrote: “Whoever fairly faces the question must admit that the same set of arguments which condemns a national religion also condemns a national system of education. It is hard to pronounce sentence on the one and absolve the other.”

Sadly, we are now saddled with a state religion. See Wayne Laitinen’s article in the September 1994 Northwestern Lutheran, “Who Says There Isn’t a State Religion?”

For something on how education can thrive without dependence on the state, see Robert A. Peterson’s article (available on the Internet), “Education in Colonial America.”

R.E. Wehrwein

New Ulm

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