Tag Archives: 14th amendment

Parochial schools and the Constitution

After WWI there was a resurgence  in the Ku Klux Klan and their attempts at political influence in America. They had moved out of the South and tried to make political inroads in several states: Michigan, Wyoming, Nebraska, Ohio, Arkansas, Texas, California, Oklahoma, Washington and Oregon. In Oregon they were successful with a law that would ban private schools, and their primary target was Catholic schools.

This new wave [of the Klan] portrayed themselves as a race-protecting group that “espoused a virulent form of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and anti-immigrant sentiment.” Secondly, they saw themselves as “moral, law-abiding citizens dedicated to political and civil reform, civic improvement, and the defense of traditional American values.” The second Ku Klux Klan also differed from the first in that it was spread out all over the United States. The Pacific Northwest was home to a large Klan membership, and for a few years in the early 1920s, Klan members were active in the Oregon State government.

The KKK, along with the FreeMasons in Oregon, believed that private (Catholic) schools did not teach real American values and that they were a threat to the American government and the American way of life.

In 1919, the state of Oregon passed a law that all schools had to teach classes in English only, unless the class was language specific, i.e. Spanish or French.

In 1923, the state passed a law that forbid the recognition of  Catholic schools as teacher training institutions.

Nuns were forbidden from wearing their habits if they were teaching in public schools.

The Compulsory Education Act of 1922, which the voters of Oregon passed and was put forth by the Scottish Rite Freemasons and eagerly supported by the Klan, said that all children, aged 8-16 would attend only public schools and parents who did not comply would be fined anywhere from $5 to $100 a day for every day that their child was not in school. Parents could also face jail time for not complying.

And even though no public money was going to religious schools, the law still passed.

The irony in this is that the Klan, an organization that believes in being separate from those they deem “unworthy, dirty and un-American” like Catholics, Jews and of course, Blacks, wanted all these children in the same schools their own children would be attending.

The members of the Ku Klux Klan saw themselves as “real” Americans and protectors of what they saw as the American way of life. Due to their sense of duty, the Klan targeted groups that were not like the majority of white [Protestant] Americans and attacked them. The Oregon School Bill was one way in which they did this.

At this time only 8% of Oregonians were Catholic and only %7 of the children in Oregon were in private schools, such as military and other religious schools. And to be clear, the Compulsory Act not only affected Catholic schools but military and all private schools. The movement was directed at Catholics, however.

… the Klan saw this measure as a way to “Americanize” Catholic children and limit the amount of “non-Protestant” instruction they received. Oregonians who supported the Compulsory Education Bill, including the Oregon Klan, made the argument that private and parochial schools were often controlled by non-American organizations [The Pope in Rome] that emphasized foreign ideologies over traditional American values.

Immediately after the November elections in Oregon, the case was brought before District Court and was found unconstitutional. The Governor of Oregon then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case Pierce (Gov. of Oregon) v. The Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. The Supreme Court found in a 9-0 decision for the Sisters and against the State of Oregon. Called the Magna Carta of private schools, this case, used the 14th amendment as it’s basis. Parents have the right to raise and educate their children and that those children are not wards of the state. This is a right that comes from the parent and not the state. And that children have the right to private education if their parents choose that.

In Washington the proposed law met with stiff opposition. Lutherans and Adventists were also against the passing of Initiative 49 [as it was named on the Washington ballot] because of its infringement on religious liberties. The protection of religious liberty was important to all of the religious groups of Washington, and was protected by the First Amendment in the United States Constitution. As the masons, Lutherans, and Adventists realized, the passing of Initiative 49 would have been detrimental to more than just the Catholics, for if passed it could have led to other initiatives targeting other religious groups in Washington.

What’s the point of all this nearly 90 years later? The question of Islamic schools in the United States.

In a Fox News article published in February 2002, Kenneth Adelman said, “I don’t know precisely what new immigrant schools taught when waves of Catholics or Jews first flocked to America. But I suspect they adopted and spread the basic American values [of] tolerance, freedom and patriotism.”

On the other hand, Islamic schools in America are teaching hate and intolerance towards Christians and Jews. They are teaching that bin Laden was a victim of American foreign policy, crimes against non-Muslims are advocated and that Israel is not even on the world map!

Moral relativism (more commonly known as political correctness) is alive and well in all of America, excluding the Muslims. The Muslims are not required to be PC. They can advocate hate and violence against non-believers in America but we have to continue to be PC and tolerate this. And tolerate it in their schools, too. The children coming from these schools are taught nothing of American values and, in fact, are taught that those values are sinful and therefore, anti-Muslim. There was never any evidence that Catholic schools taught anti-American values in their classrooms and speaking as a former (but short) Catholic school student, it was not ever taught in my classrooms.

We now face the problem of 1st amendment and the right to privacy at use in the education system by a religious group, very unlike any Catholic schools, that has made no secret of their anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and Christian hate. Proponents of Muslim schools will be able to hide behind the Constitution and use precedent set by the Pierce v. Sisters case and courts that are packed with liberal policy making judges in order to protect their right to teach hate and violence in their own private schools.

Pierce v. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary

The Klan and Anti-Catholic school bills