BJ Volkert cited his Christianity as the reason he resigned as a member of the Northeastern School Board, saying his religious beliefs were not compatible with the job at hand.

And we couldn’t agree more.

Among other things said during Volkert’s short-lived tenure, the Youth Baptist pastor publicly thought that issues surrounding gender and sexuality had no place in diversity discussions.

“If Jesus Christ does not return to schools, things will continue to work their way into the lives of our children that we are ultimately not fans of,” he said during his exit speech less than a year ago. year after his election. to the school board.

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To be fair, Volkert never came out and said what specific things troubled him. What is clear is that he is not happy with the separation of church and state.

His exit speech, of course, contained real puzzles as his thoughts meandered past the bloodshed of George Washington and into the seaworthiness of Noah’s Ark. It wasn’t some kind of gracious “thank you and goodbye” resignation.

But unlike some other public officials at the local, state and national levels, Volkert at least had the wisdom not to try to fit his personal religious beliefs into the curriculum of a school funded by taxpayers of all faiths — and by agnostics and atheists too. .

Volkert just left.

For that, at least, we pay homage to him.

Our schools have increasingly become a battleground for conservative ideologues pushing for book bans, school-sanctioned prayer, and a steady beat of anti-LGBTQ politics and rhetoric.

All of this goes against a key American value. Faith is an essential part of our daily lives and our belief – whatever it is – should inform how we treat each other.

But the freedom of religion in the US Constitution also protects the freedom of religion too.

We are all free from our own beliefs. And we are also free to have beliefs imposed on us.

James Madison, the father of our Constitution, warned of “a zeal for differing opinions concerning religion” in Federalist Paper No. 10.

“No man is permitted to be a judge in his own cause,” Madison wrote, “because his interest would certainly bias his judgment and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.”

To put it even more clearly, there is a simple solution for parents who insist that their children only learn things that match their religious beliefs.

Private school.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 3.5 million of the 54 million U.S. school-aged children attended religious schools in the 2019-20 school year.

As for Volkert’s specific criticism of public schools, there are about 600,000 private schools nationwide that describe themselves as “conservative Christian” schools, according to federal data.

Instead of trying to impose their narrow view of the Bible on everyone, we encourage our fundamentalist friends to consider alternates. And, while they’re at it, take a look at the New Testament and the call to “love your neighbor as yourself”.

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