Sam Brownback speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, DC, on June 10, 2020.
Sam Brownback speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, DC, on June 10, 2020. (photo: Andrew Harnik / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)

Sam Brownback: Connecting the Dots Between Religious Freedom and School Choice (Season 3 — Ep. 4)

Ambassador Sam Brownback says school choice is crucial to religious liberty — but we’re going to have to fight for it.

Ambassador Sam Brownback was President Donald Trump’s ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, and, before that, he served as governor of Kansas and in both houses of Congress. In this episode of Religious Freedom Matters, he explains why he’s now devoting his time to building a coalition to defend religious liberty in the United States. If we allow it to be suppressed at home, that will empower sinister forces around the world to do the same in their countries, often employing unspeakable violence.

How does school choice — the theme of this season’s podcasts — fit into the picture? “It’s critically important,” says Brownback. If the public-school system neglects character formation, parents must be given the right to send their children to schools that do teach moral values. But today’s federal government is “hostile” to school choice, says Brownback, “because they want to control the next generation through the education system. ... They want a monopoly system.”

How can parents fight this ideological monopoly if the current administration opposes school choice? “Go to your congressmen and senators,” says Ambassador Brownback — and if they won’t listen, contact influential people and groups that advocate for school choice. He suggests that the pandemic has forced parents to think about the quality of public-school education. But for school choice to work, various monopolistic bodies have to be confronted — especially teachers’ unions, whose blind hostility to private religious education now exerts a powerful grip on the Democratic Party. So, if we want school choice, we’re going to have to fight for it. 

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

10 Scripture Verses to Strengthen You in Hardship

“The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events …” (CCC 303)