Religious Liberty Is Fundamental to Diversity (Real Clear Policy)


    Religious Liberty Is Fundamental to Diversity – By Mark Rienzi (Real Clear Policy) / Jan 16, 2024

    When people complain about polarization in America, religious freedom sometimes takes the blame. How can people who disagree about such fundamental questions of life form one nation?

    Actually, Americans have been finding ways to live with disagreements for centuries—since before we were a nation. And the religious liberty protections of our First Amendment have been central to our success at navigating such difficult times. That is why I am welcoming the new year with optimism, rather than dread, as I look out on all the ways religious liberty is helping build a stronger and better country—even amidst all our disagreements. This is true in many areas of the law, including parents’ rights in education, equal funding for faith-based schools, and protections for religious minorities in the military.

    In public schools, religious parents are working to ensure that they can direct their children’s education in accordance with their beliefs. Last year, the Montgomery County, Maryland school board decided to suspend parents’ ability to opt their elementary-aged children out of reading storybooks that promote one-sided gender and sexual ideology. The school board won’t even tell the parents when the books are being read. My firm, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, represents a diverse group of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian parents who sued the Board in federal court last spring. They are standing up against what they believe to be storybooks that are age-inappropriate and inconsistent with their faith. They are not calling for book bans or an overhaul of classroom curriculum; they understand that different parents have different viewpoints. They simply want to know when the lessons are going to take place and the choice to opt their own kids out of lessons that conflict with their deeply held religious convictions. The opt-out was status quo for over fifty years in Montgomery County, until the school board abruptly removed it in violation of their own policies and Maryland state law. Our disagreements over sex and gender shouldn’t undermine a basic truth that almost everyone can get behind—moms and dads know what’s best for their children and should guide their education.



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