The religious right's endless struggle to steal billions of dollars from American taxpayers to fund their own religious schools dovetails nicely with the penchant for right-wingers to steal millions of dollars from their own kind:
In recent years, [conservative Christianist lawyer Michael Farris] has reached the pinnacle of the conservative legal establishment. From 2017 to 2022, he was the president and chief executive of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a powerhouse Christian legal group that helped draft and defend the restrictive Mississippi abortion law that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. ADF and its allies have filed a flurry of state and federal lawsuits over the past two years alleging that public schools are violating parental and religious rights.
Yet it is outside the courtroom that Farris’s influence has arguably been most profound. No single figure has been more instrumental in transforming the parental rights cause from an obscure concern of Christian home-schoolers into a GOP rallying cry.
When former president Donald Trump called for a federal parental bill of rights in a 2023 campaign video, saying secular public school instruction had become a “new religion,” he was invoking arguments Farris first made 40 years ago. The executive order targeting school mask mandates that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed on his first day in office cited a 2013 state law guaranteeing “fundamental” parental rights that Farris helped write.
his most famous confrontation with public school officials came during a 1986 trial in Tennessee. His clients were born-again Christians who argued their children should not be required to read “Rumpelstiltskin,” “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and other material that they said undermined their religious beliefs.
A federal judge agreed, ordering that the children could opt out of the school’s reading lessons. But the decision in the case, Mozert v. Hawkins, was reversed by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that merely exposing children to ideas did not violate their rights.
“We are simply clarifying a right that exists — a right which comes from God,” Farris said.
Make no mistake: Farris wants you to pay for Christian education. The whole "parents rights" angle is nonsense when you think about it. As one wag on Facebook put it, "I don't want my kids playing with those kids at a public park, so you should give me my share of the park district budget to build my own." And hey, it turns out, the ones making the argument usually have a sideline in private park development.
Even without the religious aspect, when natural monopolies emerge from civil society, the only thing that privatization accomplishes is to funnel money into people's pockets without improving the overall good. Health care in the US is the best example of this, but spending public money for private education is the same basic pattern.
It's yet another example of the religious right's continuing pattern of conflating their right to opt out of consuming public goods, which they certainly have, with a belief that they're somehow owed the equivalent value of the public good as their own private property. But that's not how civil society works. And I'll bet you all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that Farris makes a great deal off the religious people he's convinced to follow him down this anti-social and destructive path.
I'm so tired of private interests taking public money for things that public organizations can do just as well, particularly if they stop having to fight for table scraps.