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America’s tug of war over children

What activists really want is the separation of truth and state

Demonstrators gather at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, to speak against transgender-related legislation before the Texas Senate and House on May 20, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Associated Press/Photo by Eric Gay, file

America’s tug of war over children
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Lately, education in America has dominated the news cycle in heartbreaking ways. Battles at the schoolhouse gates are portrayed as just another partisan political conflict. In reality, they are an extension of the broader spiritual battle going on in the world, between God’s kingdom agenda, which pursues truth, and the world’s agenda of deception and lies. Both seek to gain the allegiance of the youth in order to ensure that the children grow up to be soldiers of their army.

But it’s a battle that truth must win.

States like Florida and Texas are partnering with parents in this battle to protect children from deceitful indoctrination, by ensuring that families teach their children about morally sensitive issues, not the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a law declaring universal school choice in the state, permitting all K-12 students to use state vouchers for private schools. The state also banned instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity before third grade and plans to expand that protection through twelfth grade.

In Texas, the state legislature is considering a bill to ban sex-denying medication and surgery for minors and a bill that prohibits minors from altering the sex listed on their birth certificate. Predictably, the state’s actions were met with protests and scornful media coverage.

But we are dealing with a world that will do anything to protect its lies. Texas, Florida, and anyone else who tries to protect children from harmful deception and confusing lies are labeled whatever-phobic and rhetorically crucified.

At the annual interfaith breakfast, New York City Mayor Eric Adams—no cultural conservative—advocated for prayer in schools, rejecting the overused doctrine of the separation of church and state. He insightfully said, “State is the body. Church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.” The media backlash was swift and severe. The New York Times quoted leaders calling Adams’ statements “harmful.” 

While the culture wants to indoctrinate children with harmful, inappropriate material in schools, it simultaneously fights to keep religion, especially Christianity, away from the children.

Don’t miss the message that these conflicts send to the church. While the culture wants to indoctrinate children with harmful, inappropriate material in schools, it simultaneously fights to keep religion, especially Christianity, away from the children.

Take for instance the recent U.S. Supreme Court case involving high school football coach Joseph Kennedy. Bremerton School District fired the football coach for his personal prayers at the 50-yard line after football games, claiming the Establishment Clause required it. Students shouldn’t see a district employee praying, the district claimed, less they be influenced by religious exercise. Thankfully, the Supreme Court disagreed.

Similarly, Deion Sanders was recently criticized by atheists for praying with his players at the University of Colorado. Remarkably, the atheists claimed the Kennedy decision prohibited Sanders’ activity. In other words, the activists brazenly misrepresented the law in order to further their goal to rid religion from education.

But precise legal analysis is often avoided by cultural activists who seek the separation of church and state, because what they really want is the separation of truth and state.

What the culture is after is the annihilation of dissenters. Those who speak truth and resist the culture zeitgeist will be punished. And even though some government leaders like those in Florida, Texas, and Virginia are working overtime to fight the battle on behalf of our children, many government officials, including the current presidential administration, have joined the wrong side.

Christians must stand firmly as the culture rages against truth and pushes it further into the fringes of society. We have a duty to be loud and proud about God’s truth, because those who know the truth cannot be deceived. Lies, identity confusion, and disrespect of God’s sovereignty are destroying our children. The side that trains the children will control the future.

Keisha Toni Russell

Keisha Toni Russell is counsel at First Liberty Institute and a fellow at the Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy.

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