Christian education and the affordability of it is a hot topic. With each passing day, the conversations increase and those who care about the hearts, minds, and souls of children are trying to problem solve that issue. Among the proposed “solutions” are ideas like: 1. Education Savings Accounts; 2. “School Choice”; 3. Education Tax Credits. What’s an individual to do? What is the the answer? How do we think according to Biblical principles of liberty about it?
I’m not going to belabor the topic of “school choice.” If you haven’t already read my articles, School Choice: The Bottom Line and Universals, Particulars, and “School Choice” How the Dialectic Process is Meddling with What To Do, please take time to read them.
At first glance, in regards to an education tax credit, well-meaning people get excited about the idea of it. I get it. Who doesn’t want to keep their hard-earned money? What Christian doesn’t want to help get children out of the gov’t school system? After all, students are drowning in an ocean of anti-God, anti-Christian, and anti-liberty ideologies.
But, an education tax credit isn’t the lifesaver that it’s made out to be. . .
But First, Rip Currents
Let’s use the following analogy:
- the shore is liberty and safety,
- the ocean is civil government
- the rip current is what pulls the individual into the control of the ocean, little-by-little until the individual realizes he or she is far away from the shore and under the control of the ocean
An Education Tax Credit Is Not a Tax Return
A tax return is the government returning your hard-earned money that you overpaid in taxes.
It’s truly your hard-earned income being returned to you and you can spend it any (legal) way you’d like to without the government knowing what you do with it. In fact, it’s like the ship (a tool) returning back to the shore (individual and distinct from the ocean).
A tax credit is a transaction of a different kind. . .
What An Education Tax Credit Is
An education tax credit is a means of seeking permission from the government to have your money returned to you with a specific purpose in mind: to use the money for education. Watch out for the rip current!
The Main Idea of An Education Tax Credit
The proposal is enthusiastically likened to receiving a regular tax credit based on how many children one has. However, there’s a stark contrast.
When one receives a tax credit based on how many children one has, the government isn’t collecting information on how one is spending their private money regarding their children. But, that’s not the case with an education tax credit.
The Mechanics of an Education Tax Credit
In order to receive an education tax credit paperwork will be involved. One’s request for it will need to be made known to civil government. The civil government will need to approve the individual’s request. The civil government will want proof of the money being spent on education.
For a child attending a private school, the civil government will want to know which private school. A receipt likely will be turned over to the civil government. For those who especially didn’t like the idea of having to sign-in for church attendance during Covid, you’ll understand why the tracking of where your child attends private school is concerning.
For a child being homeschooled, what will the parents need to submit to the civil government? Receipts for the curriculum, classes, “extra curricular” activities, field tip expenses, etc.
Pandora’s box is opened and the civil government collects more private information on the parents and child—their beliefs that are reflected by their educational choices. The more information the civil government has on the private matters of an individual, the more it leads to tyranny. Additionally, it’s another door for civil government control over private and home education by violating some Principles of Liberty.
The Mechanics of Principles of America’s Form of Government
For America’s first two-hundred years, Biblical principles and Biblical thinking were taught in her schools and churches. With the advent of the Prussian model of education introduced into America, education slowly started to implement secular-humanist and socialist worldviews.
Abraham Lincoln comprehended the link between education and civil government:
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.“-Abraham Lincoln
One of the challenges we face as Americans today is the mindset of “free”—ultimately society as a whole is trained to think in terms of “free”. With each passing generation, America has spiraled further and further away from true liberty. That is because counter principles of Liberty are taught and individuals become used to those as a way of life.
However, it is not a secular-humanist or socialist worldview that birthed America—the nation with the most liberty in the world (liberty of self-government, church government, economics, and religion). The “free” mindset—the socialist mindset—is toxic to liberty. It’s a stronghold. And the way to combat it is through learning and living by Biblical principles of liberty. It’s a mindset shift that is necessary if we are to sustain and restore liberty to America.
Principles That Are Violated by an Education Tax Credit
The Principle of Individuality
The Principle of Individuality is violated by the Counter Principle of Collectivism. If a family wants to keep the individuality of its education choices, it runs the risk of having to give up its private information regarding education in order to have its private property restored to it.
Why should an individual have to ask permission to spend his or her income and explain how he or she spends it?
The real potential is there for the government to enforce regulations requiring the acceptance of an educational tax credit. “If you want an educational tax credit, then your are or aren’t permitted to do x, y, z with it.” Since the government has hold of the money, it’s able to enforce restrictions. That is done in regards to funding charter schools and issuing tax funds to families through charter schools. What is to stop the government from doing that with educational tax credits while cutting out the middle man, Charter School? That will bring participating families under the collective—putting the “ideal group think” above the individual and Biblical values of the Christian family.
The Principle of Self-Government
The Principle of Self-Government is violated by the Counter Principle of Manipulation. If a family wants to keep the individuality of its education choices, it’s manipulated into giving up its private information regarding education in order to have its private property restored to it. The family is not left alone to self-govern its income and educational choices.
The Principle of Quality Character
The Principle of Quality Character may be countered by the Principle of Degradation of Character. Consider the following scenario:
Meet The Christian Family
Mr. and Mrs. Christian want to enroll their child in a private Christian school or maybe home educate their child with a Christian curriculum. They’re weighing their options. What they know for certain is that they don’t want their child under the indoctrination of the government school.
The government decides that they’re going to keep a score against Mr. and Mrs. Christian if they enroll their child in a Christian school. That is, unless the Christian school is already compromised because it has partnered with the State for tax funds. Or, unless of course the parents don’t buy Christian curriculum for their child.
Mr. and Mrs. Christian don’t want to have a dent on their score and they don’t want to pay out of pocket so they decide to comply and go with either of the options the government lays out for them.
Their character is degraded because they choose to compromise on the quality of education their child will receive in order to get the education tax credit.
The Principle of Liberty
The Principle of Liberty is violated by the Counter Principle of Social Engineering. Perhaps the government won’t go so far as to tell young Christian what he can do for a living, but it can socially engineer his thinking through the content, methods, and form of education he receives. That’s obviously accomplished through the restrictions of what the educational tax fund allows for his education.
The Rip Current Effect of Socialism
It’s clear that people who support education tax credits want to offer a solution to help make Christian education more affordable–thereby helping to defeat socialism.
Indeed, the ideal way to help put an end to socialism regarding education isn’t via educational tax credits. Rather, the ideal way is to not allow government control outside its God-given jurisdiction. That is to say, civil government isn’t to tax for things outside its jurisdiction (i.e. education).
Without a doubt, educational tax credits are like a rip current effect; they’ll pull the individual all the more into the government control current as he or she attempts to swim, fighting the current. But the only way to escape a riptide is to swim parallel to the shore.
There doesn’t seem to be any quick solution and understandably so because it has taken years for America to reach this point. We must think with long-chains of reasoning and not let our judgement get clouded by haste or desperation.
That being said, if you have found yourself caught up in the rip current start swimming parallel to that shore of safety by not giving civil government a foot in the door through education tax credits (re-read the concerns above regarding education tax credits).
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