There are myriad reasons why some Americans hate union labor and the past week has proven that for every benefit unions are responsible for, detractors come up with nonsense reasons unions are anti-American. Some reasons people claim unions are bad are that they drain resources from state coffers, produce lazy entitled workers, or are inherently anti-American. Of course all of the reasons are untrue, but truth has never been important to conservatives and especially Republicans. There is one group that is quietly cheering Governor Scott Walker and all Republican governors who have been paid off by the Koch brothers to break unions, and that is the religious right.
Governor Walker claims that union pensions are the cause of the state’s budget woes, but the teacher’s union has offered to renegotiate the pension deal they legally made with the state. Walker has ignored the offer because he wants the unions out of the picture all together. Walker is a Baptist minister’s son, and by all accounts is a devout Christian. He is an anti-abortion crusader who wants an all-out ban on abortions and was endorsed by a Pro Life group. Walker is a typical Christian conservative who is not above lying to promote his policies whether it is that the unions are causing budget deficits or that he did not squander a budget surplus by giving tax breaks to oil companies.
Walker is doing the bidding of David and Charles Koch in trying to break the unions, but there is another benefit Christian conservatives are praying for. If unions can be broken and public education privatized, religious schools can usher in theocratic curriculum for every child. It may sound far-fetched, but there is plenty of reason to believe if Walker and enough Republican governors and politicians can defund and end public education in America, Christians can institute their own curriculum and religious freedom as we know it in America is finished.
The evangelical Christian community is anti-public schools because they claim that liberal union teachers have been “driving God out of our history” and eliminating school prayers for years. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee circulated a letter promoting a book by Newt Gingrich titled, “Rediscovering God in America,” that pushes the myth that America is a Christian nation, and that “radical leftists and atheists…want to drive all religion out of American life.” Huckabee promotes a popular theme among Christian conservatives who want to, “train a new generation of leaders who will defend religious liberty in our schools.”
Huckabee is a former governor who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution so he should be familiar with the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, but he is a preacher whose first obligation is to “make disciples.” Huckabee and his cohorts like Governor Walker see an opportunity to use Koch money to break unions so they can install their own teachers who will teach a Christian curriculum regardless the Constitution’s express prohibition of a state-sponsored religion. It is noteworthy that although the Koch brothers want to break unions for monetary gains, they are also conservative Christians who will use any means to achieve their goals of ruling America.
Unions or teachers are not responsible for curriculum that any state adopts and they are not interested in taking anyone’s religious freedoms away. Huckabee claims that there has been “nearly a half-century of orchestrated, intentional liberal attacks on faith in our schools,” and that the alleged attacks are the work of leftists and unions. He goes on to say that, “after 50 years of driving God from our schools, America is facing some of the most potentially devastating crises we have ever faced.”
Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionists see unions as a socialist movement that is striving to turn America into a secular state and are un-American. According to Huckabee’s version of history, the Founding Fathers intended America to be a faith-based country that follows the Ten Commandments instead of the Constitution. Huckabee believes that, “America …was created out of the providence of God, because of the prayers of people who, on their knees, begged for a place where they could be free and raise their children in faith.” Whether or not the Founders got on their knees and prayed is not the issue, but they certainly did not mean for America to be a Christian nation or they would have written it into the Constitution.
All across the country Christians are making their play to move the country toward a theocracy and the Koch brothers are funding that movement vicariously. If they can break the unions once and for all, a governor can install the teachers they choose, and like Texas, rewrite history to support their distorted view of the origins of America. Union teachers are held to a standard that forces them to follow the Constitution and laws in each state that forbid religious teaching in public schools unless it is a specific course on religion. Christians would love nothing more than to eliminate unions and install their own unqualified teachers who will follow church doctrine instead of a state’s curriculum.
Wisconsin has the 2nd highest graduation rate in the country and it is in part because of union representation. Christians like Walker and Huckabee are using a fabricated budget deficit to eliminate the teacher’s union’s collective bargaining agreement with the state. If Walker was a true Christian, he would not lie and blame the state’s budget deficit on the teachers and their union. The union is not responsible for the shortfall, but they are willing to take pay cuts and restructure the pension plan they have with the state. Walker never mentions that the union is willing to negotiate lower wages, benefit packages, and pension plans. The union made the existing agreement in good faith, but Walker is unwilling to renegotiate because the union will still exist. Even if the union and teachers conceded everything that Walker demands, the deficit will remain.
The teachers in Wisconsin are fighting for the right to bargain and not to drive God out of the schools or to promote a liberal atheist agenda like Huckabee claims. Conservatives and Republicans’ biggest fear is that they will not be able to control the public with fear of a secular government like the Founders intended. The Koch brothers may want to break the unions to control the government, but Christians want the godless union eliminated so they can “tell the liberals that our rights, liberty and prosperity come from God.” As Mike Huckabee claims with utmost sincerity and conviction; Christians need to “fight to win back our schools” from the unions and radical leftists. Despite the rhetoric on the religious right, unions are part and parcel of freedom and the defenders of the Constitution and religious freedom in our schools.