Time to Put Pressure on Paige

Secretary of Education Should Resign over Christian Bias

(Madison, Wis.) The Freedom From Religion Foundation has called upon U.S. Secretary of Education Ron Paige to resign over recent remarks made in an interview with the Baptist Press.

“Your stated preference for private Christian education over the public educational system you were hired to oversee and champion is shocking,” wrote Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Paige has stood by his widely-quoted statement: “All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith.”

Although the Baptist Press has fired its reporter over minor misquotes, the Department of Educationâs transcript of the interview reveals that Paige’s statement was correctly quoted. The interview also reveals Paigeâs rightwing hostility for public schools, his condemnation of the 9th Circuit decision on the Pledge, his support for taxpayer vouchers for religious education, and even his bewilderment that there is opposition to religion in our public-supported educational system.

“Instead of promoting public education, you consistently denigrate it, using broad strokes to tarnish the entire public school system. Instead of supporting the separation of church and state, as required by your oath of office, you undermine this great constitutional principle,” Gaylor wrote Paige on behalf of the Foundation.

Paige’s responsibility as education secretary is to promote the concept of the “common school,” the great melting pot, Gaylor added. “Assuring children of diverse backgrounds a good public education, free of sectarian strife, ought be one of your highest priorities. Religiously segregated schools create walls between children, teaching by their very existence that children should be judged and divided on the basis of what they believe or disbelieve. The public should never be taxed to support worship, in any school, public or private.”

Paige also links “strong values” to religious education, saying it is important to embrace “religious values” both at school and at home. He also said of critics of Bushâs public religiosity that “I would offer them my prayers.” Paige spoke at length of his 20-25 minute morning ritual of beginning his day with coffee, “Scripture lessons, readings, and my prayer.”

“Clearly, Paige is not capable of separating his fervent private beliefs from his public duties. He belongs at the helm of some board promoting religious schools, not as the figurehood of public education in our country. He has betrayed the trust of the American public,” the Foundation concluded.

Please contact the Secretary of Education:

Mr Rod Paige, Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave SW
Washington DC 20202-0495

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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