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In his first public address since leaving the Trump administration, former Attorney General Bill Barr criticized the “secular progressive orthodoxy through government-run schools” and suggested public funding for education may be unconstitutional given the hostility of state-funded schools toward religious believers.
“The time has come to admit that the approach of giving militantly secularist government schools a monopoly over publicly funded education has become a disaster,” Barr said at an event in Naples, Florida, according to Fox News.
The former attorney general said ideology running rampant through the public school system is incompatible with traditional Christianity and other major religions in the U.S. As such, he suggested “it may no longer be fair, practical or even constitutional to provide publicly funded education solely through the vehicle of state-funded schools.”
Barr made these remarks at the Council for National Policy’s annual meeting, where he received an award from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group that defends religious liberty.
His speech touched on critical race theory being taught in the classroom as part of Black Lives Matter curricula, which he called “Marxism substituting race for class antagonism,” and also on school materials that promote the idea that gender is not immutable, but rather fluid and open to self-interpretation.
“This is not established science,” said Barr, but is rather the “moral, psychological, metaphysical dogma of the new orthodoxy.”
He called these ideas “a broadsided attack on natural law.”
“It’s monstrous of the state to indoctrinate students into alternate belief systems,” he added.
Conservatives and Republican elected officials who represent them have become increasingly concerned about what children are being taught in school as U.S. test scores show American students continuing to fall behind the rest of the developed world in reading and mathematics.
Several Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed or advanced legislation that would ban or impose restrictions on teaching critical race theory in public schools. The marxist, post-modern theory, which has roots in legal scholarship, is premised on the idea that race is a socially constructed concept historically used by white people to oppress and exploit non-white people. Proponents of the theory maintain that U.S. institutions are inherently racist because they have discriminated against minorities in the past and produced inequitable outcomes for them when compared to white people living today.
GOP states have also moved to enact laws prohibiting transgender athletes who were born males but identify as or have begun to transition to female from playing on girls sports teams.
Parents have also spoken out against sexually explicit material being taught in the classroom.