To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Your editorial of Saturday, May 3, "Released Principle," takes issue with the majority decision of the Supreme Court which upheld the released time principle for religious education. You contend that this decision marks the beginning of an insidious intrusion of pressure groups into public education.
Your fundamental assumption appears to be that at present public education in America is free from the influence of any set of philosophical or religious values, and that to introduce any such set of values, to the exclusion of any other, would violate the spiritual vacuum in which, by your terms, public education is best carried on. In making this assumption you seem to forget that by excluding the influence of religious values in public education you are, in effect, advocating the further extension of that philosophy which now dominates the public school system, namely: materialist secularism. It is ironic indeed that the CRIMSON should be concerned lest other philosophies intrude into a system of public education in which one philosophy, the same secularism, already has free rein. Is not this a limitation of freedom?
It is relevant to observe that Western civilization is rooted in the spiritual values of the Judaeo-Christian faith. To exclude this faith from participation in the education of American youth is no less than a betrayal of the chief inspiration of Western culture. To rear American youth in the belief that religion is on the periphery of life, and in no way connected with the other aspects of society, is to distort history and to deny human experience.
If the principle of released time represents the beginning of the unseating of secularism from its preeminent position in public education, the undersigned cannot but applaud. Robert H. Russell, 3G V.H. Viglielmo, 1G
First, the editors of the CRIMSON are not lawyers by any means, and we do not dispute Supreme Court decisions. What we objected to in "Released Principles" was the legislative act of setting up a released time program, be it legal or not.
Second, readers Viglielmo and Russell may applaud "the unseating of secularism," but there are many others--some of whom approve preaching materialist philosophies, and some who detect no signs of such preaching in public schools--who prefer to sit on their hands. The question, however one answers it, concerns a highly private matter, one's philosophy of life, and there are almost as many answers as there are citizens. Why, on such an issue, should the state decide for each individual that a spiritual vacuum actually does exist, that there is only one thing that can fill it, and that religion is that one thing? Each individual must decide these questions for himself, unless he would rather have others do his thinking for him, and the state must studiously avoid taking sides. The place for pressure is the home or other private associations.
Third, there is the accusation that public schools are preaching a materialist philosophy. If they were, we would oppose such an action just as strongly as we oppose encouraging religion by means of public school machinery. But the logic in suggesting that the absence of one philosophy necessarily means the presence of another escapes us. In fact, it would be a great surprise to find that secondary education, which after all deals with elementary subjects, deals with so large and advanced a topic as philosophy of life at all. One can teach English, Mathematics, Languages, History and so on without encouraging either materialism or religion, and this is the way these subjects art usually taught. Philosophy is left where is should be, with the individual, his home, and his voluntary associations.