Recently, much ink has been spilled on New York State’s attempt to ensure the Hasidic (Ultra-Orthodox Jewish) school system provides its students with an adequate secular education, but this is just one of many examples throughout America of states attempting to regulate private religious schools. Not surprisingly, governmental regulation of the parent-child relationship in the context of religious education is fraught with difficulty. Everyone wants children raised successfully: the state and parents all have an interest in well-educated and healthy children—and parents have the additional right to pass their religious heritage onto their progeny as well.

Sometimes these rights are in conflict. What to do when parents believe that the state’s minimal secular education is incompatible with their religious faith is one such hard case. Furthermore, the Constitutional law here makes this problem harder to solve, rather than easier.

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