Good Moral Authority
Updated: Feb 15
In the last post we looked at the issue of the right and duty of parents to educate their children. In the 1925 Supreme court decision we looked at, the court stated that parents had the right to educate and that the state was responsible to ensure good moral authority and citizenship was taught to their children. This raised the question, “What is good moral authority as the court saw it?”
Good moral authority was understood by the Founding Fathers and the courts of that day to mean the tenants held in the Christian religion. Why do I say that? Let’s take a look at some history and what some of the founding fathers and the Supreme court had to say about his before this ruling occurred in 1925.
When the Pilgrims came to America and landed at Plymouth Rock, they were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. After experiencing a lot of difficulties, they finally sailed to America on the Mayflower. When they landed, the first thing they did was to create an agreement with God in prayer. That agreement came to be known as the Mayflower Compact. In it, they told God that they would live lives based on His principles in the Bible and asked that He bless that. They again experienced many difficulties, but God sent an Indian named Squanto to them. God had prepared him beforehand by sending him to England where he learned English and the ways of Europeans. After Squanto returned to his homeland, he discovered that his entire tribe had died of a disease. He stayed with a neighboring tribe until he discovered that the Mayflower folks were living where his tribe had lived. When Squanto found that they were dying of starvation, he taught the Pilgrims all of his knowledge of growing crops and hunting.
After these events, the land grew into the 13 colonies as more and more folks came from Europe. However, they did not want another Europe where folks were persecuted because they did not belong to the religious denomination that happened to be in power. They also were being oppressed by the King of England. As a result two things happened. The Continental Congress was formed and the Declaration of Independence was issued. It declared, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The King retaliated and eventually the Revolutionary War started. When the Colonies won the war, the Congress reconvened in Philadelphia and created the Constitution. Two statements important to this discussion are in that document. The first is located in Article VI, Clause3 which states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." The second statement is from the First Amendment. It declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
From that time forward until recent years, it was understood that the principles of behavior contained in the Christian religion governed the actions of people and the governments in America. These were not done perfectly, but most folks, Christian or not, agreed with them. What were these principles? They started with the Ten Commandments then moved to statements like “do unto others as you would have done to you.” Folks saw that teaching these things to their children had value to them when they grew up. These folks included the nation’s leaders. For example John Adams wrote, “[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.” And “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
George Washington reasoned that “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” John Carrol, a signer of the Declaration wrote, “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time…” There is a multitude of quotes from many leaders and judges from America’s past. You can view them, and who said them, here.
While Parallel Hope Schools do not require families to profess to follow Jesus in order to enroll in the school, they are intent on supporting parents in the desire that their children become good moral adults when they grow up. This is facilitated by parents and the school maintaining constant communication with each other so that this goal is successfully achieved. Both parents and Parallel Hope personnel love children and desire the best possible education for them.
Next time, we will discuss the second issue brought up by the 1925 court decision.