How to Keep Students from Thinking for Themselves

I have long been in awe of how one of our major political parties can be extraordinarily clever. I don’t agree with most of their principles and non-principled actions, but I have to admire how they twist language and history for their purposes. For example, by renaming estate taxes “death taxes.”

For a while, it was thought that the Supreme Court had declared Secular Humanism a religion. It hadn’t exactly, but it sort of suggested maybe it had. Enough so that when a textbook asked questions like “Should Molly tell the teacher that she saw Richie take the extra cookie?” then the textbook violated the separation of church and state, because the question was an example of situational ethics—which is a practice of Secular Humanism—which had been declared a religion.

This was done by committees and individuals who wanted textbooks in public schools that did not ask students to think for themselves. I worked in the textbook business at the time publishers started behaving cravenly in response to this pressure.

The courts settled the religion question later, in the 90s, and Secular Humanism can no longer be considered, legally, a religion in the U.S. But it was fun while it lasted.

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