October 23, 1890
A CORRESPONDENT of America, who signs himself “An American from Choice,” in reproving the Lutherans for their objections to the Bennett law of Wisconsin, says:—
It is quite evident from this objection to the compulsory school law, that no amendment, short of a repeal of the compulsory feature, will satisfy the German Lutheran Committee, and that those same Lutherans do not consider the American public school adapted to the educational needs of a Christian family.
The Lutherans are not the only ones, by any means, who do not consider the American public schools, or any other public schools, adapted to the needs of a Christian family. He would be a queer kind of a Christian indeed who would consider it so. The American public school is not a Christian school. America is not a Christian nation. The education which it proposes to give is not a Christian education; and in the nature of the case it is impossible for it to give such education. Consequently the American public school never can be adapted to the educational needs of a Christian family.
But the opponents of religion in the public school are not the opponents of the public school. On the other hand, they are the friends of the public school and the best friends it has; because just as soon as it becomes a settled thing that the public school shall undertake to supply the educational needs of a Christian family, or teach religion in any way, it ceases to be a public school and becomes but a mere sectarian thing, through which the power of the State is exerted to compel the people to receive the dictates of a certain class in matters of religion. Then the public school becomes of no worth whatever to anybody, but only a channel through which a religious despotism, can be exerted. Therefore, those who favor the teaching of religion in the public school do, in fact, favor the destruction of the public school, and in that the destruction of the American State, that is, the free State; and the substitution for it of the European State, that is, a despotism.
Yet, this correspondent admits that “the public school has not of itself an absolute claim upon the attendance of all children living within its jurisdiction.”
But at the same time he argues that the private school shall be subject to public control, which virtually makes all schools public, and contradicts his admission that the public school has not an absolute claim on the attendance of the children; and he says that “from such control there shall be no exemption on any pretense whatever.”
This is again a contradiction to the admission that he had already made, because if a public school has not an absolute claim upon all the children living within its jurisdiction, then what right has it to exert an absolute control with no exemption whatever? This is only to say that the State can exercise absolute control where it has no absolute claim.
Next he argues that the public school is a part of the Government, and says:—
If the public school is a part of the Government, then any sect or other body of men, denying that the public school is a place where their children can be educated without violating their consciences, must be considered as hostile to the Government—in this case, the people of the United States—and, if they claim citizenship in the United States, as traitors to their Nation.
Such despotic principles as these need no comment. They furnish their own comment. It would be well if those  “Americans from choice” would learn what American principles are, before they begin to assume the prerogative of asserting the despotic principles of the Government which they failed to leave behind them.
A. T. J.