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Colorado Op Ed Writer Urges Christians to Stay in Public Schools Based on “The Golden Rule”

April 29, 2017

When I read the title of Colorado Springs Gazette op ed contributor Andrea Ramirez’ article, “Should Christians Abandon Public Schools?”, I expected the response to be a resounding “yes”. Instead, Ms. Ramirez offers a thoughtful and scriptural based “no”, despite her stated admiration for James Dobson and her support for Betsy DeVos. Why? Because she is unsettled by the hypocrisy of an affirmative answer given our inequitable wealth:

As the spirit of Christ calls us to love our neighbors, not just our own families, public school withdrawal appears particularly off target.

Our neighbors with access and financial means may enjoy many options for education: home schooling, Christian or private education, and public or charter schools.

Other families, due to location or income, health or family constraints, find their local public school to be their sole educational option. And let us not forget, most of our neighbor’s children are attending public schools, a full 90 percent of our nation’s 55 million students.

As Christians we can “love our neighbors as ourselves” by ensuring excellent education options for all children, including students in poverty, disabled students, English language learners and military families.

As one who has studied the precepts of many religions, I cannot think of one that is not based on some variant of the Golden Rule. Religious scholar Karen Armstrong noted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey reported on by Huffington Post:

“Confucius was the first person to formulate the Golden Rule, as far as we know, 500 years before Christ. And his disciples said, ‘Which of your teachings can we put into practice all day and every day?’ And he said, ‘Never treat others as you would not like to be treated yourself.’”

“I think that all the faiths have come to tell us this. That this is what works. By looking into your heart and discovering what gives you pain – and then refusing to ever inflict that pain on someone else — somehow, you achieve new capacities of mind and heart.”

“Once you (practice the Golden Rule), everything falls into place. I think the fact that every single one of the world’s faiths has developed this ethos of the Golden Rule separately from one another, independently, and said, ‘This is what brings us to Nirvana, or to God’ — they did it because it worked.”

Those who argue that our nation was founded on Christian principles are right to the extent that our forefathers believed in the straightforward logic and practicality of the “Golden Rule”. But because they clearly sought a UNITED States of America they wanted a nation completely disentangled from religion. To a man, they had witnessed how religious prejudice and politics failed the nations they fled from and in creating a new country sought to avoid those kinds of conflicts. We should learn from the religious persecution that drove migrants to our country and led us to separate church and state… and, heed Ms. Ramirez’ words:

Jesus serves as the clearest model for how Christians should live and love in our world. He served all he encountered, loving those in his community, serving those on the margins.

May we follow his lead as we serve those in our communities.

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