Knock, knock. “Who could be here at this time of night?” you wonder to yourself. Slowly you find your way to the door and peer out. A man in a shabby jacket is standing on your doorstep, shivering just a little from the cold.
Cautiously you open the door. “May I help you?” you ask.
“Hi, I’m a neighbor from down the street, and I’d like to talk with you if you have a minute.”
“Sure, come on in.”
Once inside the man looks around cautiously, sizing up the scene to see who might be present. He decides that you are home alone so he begins to share his story.
“I live in your neighborhood, and I have three children. I love them and would do anything in the world for them. I promised them when they were born that I would give them the best education that I could. However, I’ve fallen on some hard times economically. My wife has had to go to work just to make ends meet.”
You listen carefully, trying to figure out where this story is headed.
“I’ve passed by your house quite often. Do you own your own home?”
“Well, that’s kind of a personal question, but yes, I do.”
“I thought so,” the man smirked, “My wife and I rent. We can’t afford to buy a house.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but what does that have to do with me?”
“Do you have children?”
“Why do you want to know so much about me? I don’t even know you. I have three children as well, but I don’t see what business it is of yours!”
Suddenly, without any warning, the man pulls a handgun from inside his jacket and waves it frantically. “Look, just do what I say and you won’t get hurt.”
Instinctively you raise your hands and ask, “What do you want?”
“I want $30,000, that’s $10,000 for each of my children. That’s what I figure it will take to give my children an adequate education this year.”
“That’s crazy!” you assert. “It doesn’t take that much money to educate a child. Besides, I don’t have that much money. I only have $3,500, and I’ve been saving that for a very important purpose! I’ve been saving it to give my children a Christian education.”
“I don’t care what you planned to do with it, but as an Atheist/Humanist, I surely don’t want your money being wasted on something like that. Well, your lack of funds makes it hard for me, but I guess I’ll just have to ‘borrow’ from a few more of your neighbors as well. I have a personal policy not to take anything from fellow renters like myself, but only from rich land owners like you. I have ethics and standards after all.”
Before leaving your house the man turns and says, “Hey, you should be thanking me. I’m doing this for the good of society after all! Statistics have proven that children from low-income families like mine lack opportunities for higher education, and therefore are more susceptible to a future of violence and crime.”
You can’t help but guffaw at the irony of his logic.
“Remember, you need to think of others, rather than just yourself. People like you owe it to the lower classes to provide education and opportunities for them as well. I’ll be back next year to get my next annual installment.”
A year later, you have nearly forgotten the incident, and have saved up a bit of money to replace what was stolen from you.
You hear a knock on your door and innocently open it to find your nemesis from last year, but this year he has brought some friends. This time they just enter your home without even asking.
Once again, you are threatened at gunpoint. “Well, since last year,” the thief begins, “We have become a bit more organized. We have started a little community school, and all of us renters are gathering a little ‘donation’ from rich land owners like you to help us fund it. We all share the teaching duties and this helps relieve the stress of doing all of the work ourselves.”
“I wish you would stop saying that I’m rich! Just because I own a house doesn’t mean that I can afford to pay for your child’s education.”
“Well, I certainly can’t, not with what I make. I can’t afford $10,000 per child! The good news is that you aren’t just helping me this year though; you are helping many more of your under-privileged neighbors. We will have to cover more ground, and visit more rich land owners, like yourself, but it’s worth it. We’re doing it for the children after all!”
With that, one of the thugs thumps you on the back of the head and they go and take your money from your stash. With that, and a few words of derision, they leave you lying in a heap on the floor.
The next year, you have gotten wiser. You install a security system and a sturdy deadbolt on the front door. You convince yourself that you will be on guard, no matter what!
When you hear the doorbell, you look at your security monitor and see a policeman at your door, with a small group waiting behind him.
You figure you had better open the door to see what is up.
“Good afternoon officer. What may I do for you?”
“This won’t take long, but I need to talk to you.”
“Sure, come on in.”
Without asking, Mr. Thug and his thuggish friends enter right behind the police officer.
“Do they really need to be in here?” you plead.
“I’m afraid they have right. I’m here on their behalf after all.”
Glancing over his shoulder you see a handsome man in a tailor made suit. The man steps forward and extends his hand as a greeting.
“Hello neighbor! I’m Congressman Mobman, and I’m here to help.”
“Help me what? Hey, I remember you! Didn’t you thump me on the head last year?! That hurt!”
“Uh…sorry about that. That was wrong. We realized that the way we were going about things was all wrong last year. So, we’ve mended our ways. No more illegal activity for us!”
The crowd murmurs behind him, “Yeah, that’s right!”
The Congressman hands you a piece of paper, which you quickly scan. At the top of the page it says, “Property Tax Bill.” You quickly scan the paper and notice that the vast majority of the bill is to pay for local school levies. The amount owed is $3,500.
“What is this all about?” you ask.
“Well, this group of fine upstanding citizens here, decided this year to elect me to public office. I have introduced a bill that passed in both the House and the Senate, and it requires that all of the land owners in this area financially support our school. This is all legal, isn’t it officer?”
“I’m afraid so,” he says, watching you carefully while keeping his hand on his gun, “And I’m here to make sure that you comply with the new law.”
“You can’t do this!” you protest. “I don’t even use your lousy school! I pay for the education of my own children, and that is expensive enough. I can’t afford to pay for your children’s education as well!”
“Well if you sent your children to our school, then you wouldn’t have to pay for it. It would be free!”
“Free?!!! Are you kidding me?! You are taking my money, by force, to pay for this school. That isn’t free! In fact, nothing the government offers is truly free. The government doesn’t have any money. It only has what it takes from others. If my children are getting a ‘free’ education in the government schools it is only because you have taken my money by force to pay for it, or you have taken my neighbor’s money by force. I won’t do that. I won’t violate my neighbor’s right to keep his private property, just so my children can receive an inferior education at the local government school at no cost to myself.”
The Congressman shows a sly smirk. “Well, things are about to change. Not only are you obligated, BY LAW, to pay for our school, I have also passed a bill that requires you (and all parents: landowners, renters and homeless), to send your children to our ‘public’ school as well.”
He hands you another paper with the heading, “Compulsory Attendance Law.”
“This is outrageous!” you shout, thinking this must be a bad dream.
“You see, we believe that every child has a fundamental right to receive an indoctrination into the religion of Secular Humanism (which every sane person accepts as being the only true religion), and to be given every opportunity to reject your superstitious Christian fairy-tales. Therefore, your children had better be on the school bus on Monday morning, or else we will arrest you for violating the law, and we’ll take your children away from you and give them to one of these more-deserving parents here.”
“Here, here!” they all shout in unison.
The police officer begins to handcuff you, but he is stopped by the Congressman. “No need to do that officer. Some of my more conservative opponents in Congress have passed a law saying that as long as this man meets the right qualifications, he can receive an exemption from Compulsory Attendance Laws.”
“What does he need to do,” the officer asks.
“We’re still working on that,” continues the Congressman, “And we likely will for quite a while. So far, we require that he signs an affidavit declaring that he knows that WE are in control of the education of his children, and that HE is NOT. Then we will require that we have the right to view and approve whatever textbooks he uses, test his children, make him report to us on everything he says and does, make him get proper teaching certification, teach whatever subjects we mandate, and stand on his head for three hours a day. If he does all of that, we will allow him, for now, to continue to teach our children.”
“Our children?!” you protest. “You mean MY CHILDREN, don’t you?”
“No, I mean what I said, OUR CHILDREN. Children belong to everyone. That is why it is necessary for you to pay child support to educate our children, and that is why we need to oversee how you are raising yours. They belong to us all. You have no inalienable right to teach and train your own children. They, on the other hand, have an inalienable obligation to attend our schools, and you have a moral obligation to give us your money so that we can get rich from teaching your children to hate you and your God.”
“Get out of my house!” you demand, furious at this intrusion.
“Well, it won’t be your house if you don’t pay us the money you owe,” declares the police officer. “If you don’t pay your property taxes, we’ll soon own your house.”
You quickly grab the money you have saved, but realize it isn’t quite enough. So you look through the sofa cushions for spare change, but still not enough. Finally, you remember the piggy banks in your children’s bedrooms. You emerge with them in hand and after counting every penny, the mob finally agrees to go.
“Thanks for your annual contribution,” the original thief shouts. “It’s a pleasure doing business with you; and just think…it’s all legal! That’s the best part! That makes it all morally good and right. Thank you for investing in the future of this country!”
Religion and Government Schooling
As they are walking down the sidewalk, you notice someone you hadn’t seen before and holler after him.
“Pastor, what are you doing here?” A man in a white shirt and tie, with a big black Bible under his arm, turns around and smiles brightly. He walks back toward the porch, with a few other onlookers.
“But Pastor,” you protest, “How can you justify being part of this mob? This is stealing. The 8th Commandment in the Bible you are carrying forbids this!”
“Well, you need to give to charity!”
“This isn’t charity! This is robbery! The Apostle Paul instructed against this: ‘Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Corinthians 9:7). Charity should never be collected at gunpoint.”
“Look, I’ve got an opportunity to teach in this school. I can use your money to make sure that I subtly influence the school towards your values. I can’t share my beliefs overtly in the class, but I can try to get Atheist or Muslim, or Buddhist children off in a corner somewhere and try to convince them their parents are all wrong and that our religion is the correct one!”
“But Pastor, surely you don’t believe this is the best way to do it? I mean, taking money from Agnostic parents, and then trying to use their money, that was taken from them at gunpoint, to teach their children about your religion. Who would respect a religion like that?”
“Hey, everybody is doing it! The Wiccans, the gay activists, the abortionists, the environmentalists…I’m just trying to get my fair share.”
“You mean you are trying to get your snout in the trough before all of the other…”
“Hey now! Watch your tone. I’m a man of the cloth after all.”
“Let’s put the shoe on the other foot for a moment, Pastor. How would you feel if the Imam down the street tried to do what you are doing? What if he came to your house and took your money to try to use the school to influence YOUR children to reject your faith and embrace his Islamic beliefs through the ‘public’ schools? I’ve heard you complain about that from the pulpit!”
The pastor thought for a moment. “I do pay for these schools, just as you do. I see the schools as a competition. Do to them before they do to you, that’s my motto. Besides, that won’t happen. Our school is different. We have Christian teachers, Christian principals, Christian Administrators…”
“And an anti-Christian curriculum,” you interject.
“As I said, we’re trying to change all of that. We plan to eventually offer Intelligent Design as a counter-point to the evolution we teach, and abstinence as an alternative to the have-sex-with-whoever-you-want-to-as-often-as-you-want-to curriculum that we are currently using.”
“But that isn’t the role of the government; to tax people for education or to teach religion.”
“Don’t you read your Bible? Jesus said to ‘Render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar.”
“My children don’t belong to Caesar,” you counter.
“Paul taught in Romans 13 that we should obey every law and pay taxes to whom it is owed.”
“Yes, and I do pay my taxes, even the tyrannical ones, like this one.”
“What do you mean by tyrannical?”
“I mean taxes that are for purposes that are outside of the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate. Second Peter 2:16 teaches that the purpose of the civil government is to punish evildoers and to preserve justice by protecting the rights of the individual, family and church (praising those who do right). For the government to take money from its citizens for any other purpose besides defending its citizens against evildoers is an overstep of its boundaries. It should never take tax money to feed, clothe, shelter, or educate people. That belongs to me, as an individual, or to my family, or to our church family. We should have never abandoned these responsibilities and expected the State to cover them.”
“I must say that I’m disappointed. I thought you cared about children, and wanted to see Christian influence spread into all areas of culture. I thought you cared about evangelism and reaching the lost.”
“I do, but it is wrong for you to help take my money by force. This is money that my family needs to eat and live. It doesn’t matter if you think it is for a good cause, that is just Pragmatism, and the ends do NOT justify the means.”
“Well, I’m sorry you feel that way,” the preacher said as he turned to go. “That is your interpretation of scripture, and I have a different one. It’s just too bad that you didn’t go to seminary and can’t read the New Testament in the original Greek. Then you would understand; but I guess we can’t all be privileged in that way. I wish you would join with us in trying to take back these schools for Christ. Send your children to be an influence. They can be salt and light, and convert their fellow students to our good religion.”
“With all due respect, sir,” you counter, “You can only RE-form, what Christ has formed. I don’t believe that Christ ever intended the government to educate children, and they certainly should not take money, by force, to do what is outside of their prescribed domain. Every scripture in the Bible dealing with education places it squarely on the shoulders of parents. Teaching my children, is my responsibility, and I intend to be faithful to complete that task and raise them in the fear of the Lord. If I were not taxed so heavily, to fund this “forced charity,” I would have far more resources to donate to truly effective evangelistic outreaches that do not undermine parental rights or violate other Biblical principles in their implementation.”
With that, he and the others walk away, shaking their heads at your inflexible intolerance. You close the door feeling like you’ve just been violated. “At least it’s over,” you sigh, “Until next year.”
Where Does It All End?
Fifteen minutes later, you open the door to see another man brandishing a gun. “I’m sorry to do this,” he says. “But my child has just had an emergency surgery. I see that you have a nicer home than I do, so therefore you have a moral obligation to give me $15,000 to help cover his surgery. Also, my other children need better housing, nicer clothes and food to eat. So hand it over and nobody will get hurt”!
You shrug your shoulders and say, “I’m sorry, but my pastor and his friends were just here taking my last penny to teach children in the government schools about Intelligent Design, evolution, environmentalism, humanism, sexual perversion and other Biblical stuff. I honestly don’t have money left to give you. However, I know that my pastor is making decent money now that he is on the government payroll as a teacher, and I know that he believes that it is ethically acceptable to take money by force as long as it is for a good cause, so you might want to stop by his house. Give me a minute and I’ll jot down his address for you.”
“Socialism is great until you run out of other people’s money.” –Margaret Thatcher
“It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately.” — Thomas Jefferson
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” – Thomas Jefferson
“You say: ‘There are persons who lack education,’ and you turn to the law. But the law is not, in itself, a torch of learning which shines its light abroad. The law extends over a society where some persons have knowledge and others do not; where some citizens need to learn, and others can teach. In this matter of education, the law has only two alternatives: It can permit this transaction of teaching-and-learning to operate freely and without the use of force, or it can force human wills in this matter by taking from some of them enough to pay the teachers who are appointed by government to instruct others, without charge. But in this second case, the law commits legal plunder by violating liberty and property.” — Friedric Bastiat in The Law
“No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose.” — Congressman Davy Crockett
Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and the Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is author of the book, Education: Does God Have an Opinion? and Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask. He is also the Site Editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net
Cover Photo Credit: