As the nation has focused on the Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, news from the state of Indiana could prove far more important regarding the nation’s future.
The Indiana Supreme Court has just ruled unanimously, 5-0, that Indiana’s school voucher program, signed into law in 2011, the most expansive school voucher program in the nation, does not violate the state’s constitution.
Those who challenged the law argued that the voucher program is unconstitutional because it allows public funds to be used for religious education.
Not so, said the court. The voucher goes to the families, not the schools. It is the parents who decide how to spend it.
Why do I draw connection between the US Supreme Court’s review of same-sex marriage and this voucher decision in Indiana? And why do I suggest that the Indiana decision may be more important to the nation’s future than whatever the Supreme Court decides on same sex marriage?
Same-sex marriage sits before the Supreme Court today because of the dramatic change in public opinion over recent years regarding the legitimacy and morality of same-sex marriage and homosexual relations. General public opinion is far more accepting today of both than it has been in the past.
What has driven this change?
One obvious place to look is the direct generational correlation regarding acceptance of same-sex marriage. Younger Americans are far more accepting of these values than older Americans.
According to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center, approval of same sex marriage among those born between 1928-1945 is 31 percent; 1946-1964, 38 percent; 1965-1980, 49 percent; and after 1980, 70 percent.
So it seems quite reasonable to conclude that the systematic purge over the last half-century of religion and traditional values from our public schools has produced a new generation of Americans with values different from those of their parents and grandparents.
In 1962 the Supreme Court found state-sponsored school prayer unconstitutional. Subsequently, the Supreme Court found unconstitutional posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools (1980), public schools setting aside time for private or voluntary prayer (1985), and “performance of religious activity” at school promotional and graduation ceremonies (1992).
The rationale behind all these decisions was supposedly to preserve and protect religious liberty in our public schools.