Schools Deal with the Devil

WTVD out of North Carolina posted an interesting story illustrating how tax-funded schools deal with the devil.

Tieanna Trough, a student at Gray’s Creek High School, “refused to write an essay on making a deal with the Devil… Trough says when the teacher told students to write an essay on how they would sell their souls — or what trade they would make with the Devil — she refused, saying that compromised her Christian values and her parents agreed.”

The girl’s mother complained, “We can’t allow God into the classrooms, but yet they are going to allow the Devil in the classroom.”

The mother “says an alternate assignment was also unacceptable, so they complained to school officials.” Unfortunately, the report does not specify the nature of the “alternate assignment.” Finally the school, the student, and her family agreed on an appropriate topic: “how and why money is important.” (How that is any more Christian remains a mystery to me, given the New Testament’s antipathy toward material wealth.)

Clearly both sides were being a little silly here. The student could have used the assignment to write a work of fiction illustrating the harm that comes with making a deal with the devil (which she obviously takes as something more than frightful myth). The teacher, on the other hand, could have promptly made alternative arrangements with the student.

Nevertheless, the story does illustrate a deeper problem with tax-funded schools. The student’s mother has a legitimate complaint: why is it okay for tax funds to promote devil-dealing but not Christianity? To extend the argument, why is it okay to force people to fund the teaching of evolution but not creationism? The “separation of church and state” rules out the latter, but why is the former permitted?

If schools were voluntarily funded, policy would be set by the owners of the school in association with the funders and the students. If the student’s parents didn’t like the policy, they would be free to withdraw their daughter — and their funds — and send them elsewhere. Notably, this would give schools a strong incentive to make reasonable accommodations. (Some schools would cater to different world views; I’d personally favor a school that focused on secular education but that accommodated religious students.)

In the case of Gray’s Creek, however, the girl’s parents are forced the finance the school whether their daughter attends the school or not. Talk about a deal with the devil.