Opinion | Pop Culture

The President's Speech and Parental Rights

To what extent should the government shape children's beliefs?

Children in many U.S. schools yesterday heard President Obama exhort the values of hard work and personal responsibility in his back-to-school address. Reformed pastor John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church praised the speech as "a wonderful gift of common grace from God to the students of our land." Before the speech, many parents had protested the way it was framed—the Department of Education had given schools a "menu of classroom activities" that suggested students write about "how they could help the President"—rather than its content. Many parents demanded that their school districts provide alternatives to watching the speech or that they not show it at all. School districts were forced to respond with less than two weeks' notice to the Education Department's announcement.

Meanwhile, in Quebec, a court struggle recently broke out over a new, mandatory "Ethics and Religious Culture" course that will replace three separate religion courses for all students. Some Christian parents ...

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