The Christian home-schooler who made ‘parental rights’ a GOP rallying cry

The Christian home-schooler who made ‘parental rights’ a GOP rallying cry

The Washington Post reports:

The message Michael Farris had come to deliver was a simple one: The time to act was now.

For decades, Farris — a conservative Christian lawyer who is the most influential leader of the modern home-schooling movement — had toiled at the margins of American politics. His arguments about the harms of public education and the divinely endowed rights of parents had left many unconvinced.

Now, speaking on a confidential conference call to a secretive group of Christian millionaires seeking, in the words of one member, to “take down the education system as we know it today,” Farris made the same points he had made in courtrooms since the 1980s. Public schools were indoctrinating children with a secular worldview that amounted to a godless religion, he said.

The solution: lawsuits alleging that schools’ teachings about gender identity and race are unconstitutional, leading to a Supreme Court decision that would mandate the right of parents to claim billions of tax dollars for private education or home schooling.

“We’ve got to recognize that we’re swinging for the fences here, that any time you try to take down a giant of this nature, it’s an uphill battle,” Farris said on the previously undisclosed July 2021 call, a recording of which was obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with The Washington Post. “And the teachers union, the education establishment and everybody associated with the education establishment will be there in full array against us — just as they were against home-schoolers.”

Nevertheless, Farris assured the conservative donors, their money would be well spent on this legal campaign. A conservative supermajority reigned on the nation’s highest court. In statehouses and at school boards, political activism over parental rights had reached a fever pitch.

“The time is right,” he said, later adding, “Sometimes it does take a while for seed to be planted and to germinate.”

The 50-minute recording, whose details Farris did not dispute in a series of interviews with The Post, is a remarkable demonstration of how the ideology he has long championed has moved from the partisan fringe to the center of the nation’s bitter debates over public education. [Continue reading…]

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