Thursday, May 23, 2024

OH: Vouchers for Jesus

I can vaguely remember a time when the Heritage Foundation didn't wear its conservative christianist heart on its sleeve, but those days seem gone.

Witness this latest award from Heritage. Their 2024 Innovation Prize winers include Their 2024 Innovation Prize winers include outfits like the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, The Claremont Institute, Feds for Freedom, Immigration Accountability Project, and the Center for Christian Virtue.

CCV is an Ohio organization that started out in 1983 as the Citizens for Community Values. 
The First Amendment ensures that people of all faiths are free to exercise their beliefs in their day-to-day lives. For Christians, this freedom is essential because our faith compels us to act – to seek the good of our neighbors and follow God’s word daily.

Yet throughout the country, laws are in place to restrict religious freedom, and to punish people of faith because of their beliefs. For this reason, protecting religious freedom is our top priority at CCV. 

I often think that ancient Christians would be baffled by what modern christianists consider "punishment" for their beliefs. The modern definition of punishment seems to be stuck on things like "not allowed to discriminate freely against people of whom we disapprove" and "not allowed to grab as much taxpayer money as we wish." 

As punishment goes historically, it seems like tame stuff. But CCV is there to stand up against it by pushing "lifesaving legislation, including bills to prohibit abortion at the moment a heartbeat is detected in an unborn child, expand Ohio’s school choice programs, and protect religious freedom."

CCV leadership include president Aaron Baer, a comms professional (Ohio University '09) from Arizona, where he was a policy advisor for the attorney general's office. He helped launch the Ohio Christian Education Network, most noted for successfully suing the Ohio health department for closing Christian schools during the pandemic. OCEN has its own executive director, Troy McIntosh, a private Christian school vet. 

CCV isn't particularly coy about where they stand on the whole public education thing, as they explain in their release about winning the Heritage award:
CCV will receive a $100,000 award to support its Education Restoration Initiative, addressing Ohio's academically broken and morally corrupt government-run education system. The award will expand CCV's Ohio Christian Education Network (OCEN) model, which helps churches operate full-time, in-person Christian schools Monday through Friday. CCV plans on leveraging Ohio's EdChoice program to offer a moral and quality education to students at little to no cost, especially to those below the federal poverty line. CCV intends to launch dozens of schools across Ohio and export this model to other states to serve and save children across the country.

 I'm not sure exactly when we shifted gears from simply alleging that public schools didn't educate very well to also accusing them of being morally corrupt. But Baer is sure that we have an "educational crisis" because "agenda-driven bureaucrats are pushing political ideologies in the classroom."

And Heritage is right there with him. Upon delivering the award, Heritage president Kevin Roberts declared:

So much of our nation's societal decay stems from our education system, and institutions like CCV are spearheading the effort to save our children and restore morality and sanity in our schools.

It's all a reminder that Ohio's voucher program is about replacing a public non-sectarian school system with one that is explicitly Christian, and to do it in a way that circumvents any actual national discussion about whether this is a good idea or not. But I guess a conversation like that would be punishment.

1 comment:

  1. One bit of additional information: The Center for Christian Virtue lobbies from the office building it purchased across the street from the Statehouse in Columbus. Thanks for this post, Peter!