Monday, March 12, 2012

Drawing the Line Between Risk and Religion in Daycares in Indiana

Throughout the news we hear constant debates over the role of religion in high schools and middle schools but new developments in Indiana are asking about its role in daycare.  During last month an infant drowned who was attending a religious affiliated daycare that is registered as a non-profit and receives government funding but is not registered with the state as a daycare.  This tragic incident has many questioning why these non-profits are not licensed within the state and can still function as a daycare.  Within this debate there remains a balancing act between the power of government regulations within religious institutions and the right of a religious institution to function without government influence.
     The debate about the non-profits in Indiana stems from the question of why these religious daycares are not seeking the licensing that their secular counterparts are.  Some state that this move is to avoid “most state oversight” and this claim may carry some weight.  One example that has many supporting this claim is the number of regulations that the two types of daycare have to abide by such as; “licensed centers must follow 192 rules; the unlicensed faith-based ministries, 21”.  To further this sides argument the article states that “restricting religious expression isn’t one of them”.  

On the other side many are claiming that they are retaining their right to teach religion in their daycares. Many on this of the debate fear that allowing the government into the school beyond the current regulations could open the door for limiting religious expression.  One man states that “we would not want to see a tragic moment in a church be used for government oversight”.  There becomes a real fear that the government is attempting to enter the church through the door of the daycare.
This issue is important to our discussion because it shows the current debate going on where the role of the government belongs within the practices of the church.  For the government there is a concern for the children in the daycares that are not licensed because the safety regulations are limited.  While there is a concern for the children, there is also the concern at where the line must be drawn on the issue of governmental regulations within the practices of a church.  For me, I have to say that the concern of the children really comes to the forefront of my mind.  One incident has already occurred due to the lack of regulations for safety issues within the nonprofit organizations. I believe that there can be a limit to what kind of regulations that the government enforces and still keep a separation of religion and state concerns.  For the state the concern is the children while for the religious institution it is the freedom for religious expression.  This debate is bringing to light the ever-long struggle to find that fine line between government interference and religious freedom and putting it within the context of the typical daycare.

1 comment:

Anne G said...

Blake, you said the state is concerned for the children while the religious day care is concerned about religious expression. Maybe, but I think they are acting like they are more concerned with government funding at the expense of the children since they are not complying with safety (and I'm assuming reasonable) regulations. From the Ravitch readings isn't the state obligated to oversee how the funds they give are being used? Can the state really NOT know it's a day care center and subject to the state regulations?