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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The implementation of the Waldorf curriculum –
an educational philosophy related to the New Age religion
“Anthroposophy” — in some California public schools, has stirred up
controversy as opponents say its use violates the U.S. Constitution.

People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools, an unlikely coalition of
liberals and evangelical Christians, has filed suit against both the
Sacramento City Unified School District and Twin Ridges Elementary
School District for allowing public funds to be used to set up schools
which teach the Waldorf curriculum. In the lawsuit, PLANS contends that
public Waldorf schools are “intrinsically and inseparably” based upon
Anthroposophy, a religion that PLANS further contends is occultic in
nature.

What is Anthroposophy? “The Waldorf Teacher’s Survival Guide” is
designated by the Sacramento City Unified School District as one of its
resource materials for “training or instruction in Waldorf teaching
methods or Waldorf curriculum.” WorldNetDaily obtained a copy of the
67-page pamphlet, published in 1992 and written by Eugene Schwartz, head
of the Waldorf teacher training program at Sunbridge College in Spring
Valley, N.Y. The “Guide” says, on page 54: “Most of that which
contributes to our work as teachers, preparation work, artistic work,
even meditative work, is under the guardianship of Lucifer. We can
become great teachers under his supervision, for he is responsible for
much that has blossomed in the unfolding of civilization and culture in
the past.”

Lucifer?

In Anthroposophical doctrine, Lucifer is the god of light. His
antagonist is Ahriman, the god of darkness. To balance these two
opposing forces, Christ comes to earth as a sun god.

Ilna Jue is principal of the John Morse Waldorf Methods Magnet
School, one of the schools named in the suit. She defended her school,
saying, “Our curriculum is the curriculum of the State of California.
With that, we bring the methodologies of Waldorf education.”

Jue described Waldorf methodologies as including arts such as
painting, drama and music. Illustrating the importance of color in the
use of painting in Waldorf education, the book, “Sleep: An unobserved
element in education,” by Audrey E. McAllen, notes: “The colour sequence
works as a cleansing re-orientation of soul, helping the individuality
to accept the present incarnation in a physical body. This is clearly
shown in the pictures which pupils make.”

Is the Waldorf curriculum intended to indoctrinate children in an
occult religion? “I think that it’s a curriculum that attempts to be
palatable for public consumption,” says Danny Aguirre, access line
director at the Spiritual Counterfeits Project in Berkeley, Calif., “but there’s a strategy to
subtly influence the children toward Anthroposophy.”

The Spiritual Counterfeits Project is a Christian think tank that
monitors current trends affecting society, particularly spiritual
movements.

Ironically, Debra Snell, who is now the president of PLANS, was once
involved in Mariposa Waldorf School, a private school in Cedar Ridge
just outside Grass Valley, Calif. When the school closed down, she and
other Waldorf parents investigated the possibility of founding a charter
school that would use Waldorf methods. In August, 1994, Twin Ridges
Elementary School District agreed to sponsor the school. The Twin
Ridges Alternative Charter School, which opened in September 1994,
became the Yuba River Charter School.

Snell told WorldNetDaily that when she first got involved in Waldorf
schools and pushed for the Yuba River charter, she had no idea that
Waldorf was connected to a religious philosophy.

“I suppose that you can say that I feel a tremendous responsibility,”
Snell said. “I was one of the founders of the school. I was very
naive. I believed it was nonsectarian. When I heard of Waldorf
education, I had never even heard of Anthroposophy.”

Although Snell and other parents like her wanted the new charter
school to utilize credentialed public school teachers who would loosely
use the methodologies of the private Waldorf schools, Snell said
Anthroposophical teachers quickly took over the school. Curious as to
what Anthroposophy was, Snell obtained a copy of the course study book
list from the Rudolf Steiner College, an institution in Fair Oaks,
Calif., that trains Anthroposophical teachers.

“When I read what the course study was for Waldorf teachers, I
realized right away that it was a religious seminary. There’s no core
academic classes in the entire teacher training program,” Snell said.

“The required text for the first year includes occult science, and
the spiritual hierarchies, spiritual guidance of man,” added Snell. I
mean, where’s the phonics?”

PLANS had also learned that public school teachers at the Waldorf
methods schools were taught by the Anthroposophists at Rudolf Steiner
College to categorize school children by their Zodiac signs. The
children would be divided into one of “four temperaments.”

WorldNetDaily contacted Scott M. Kendall, the attorney for PLANS in
the case and an affiliate attorney of the Pacific Justice
Institute
. “This case is about whether
or not Waldorf Schools can be publicly funded,” said Kendall, “because
Waldorf schools historically have been private religious schools, and
just recently, over the last ten years, they’ve been able to manage to
get school boards to publicly fund them either as magnet schools or as
charter schools.”

“What we’re trying to prove is that the Sacramento City Unified
School District (and Twin Ridges), by having a Waldorf-type school and
identifying it as such, and by having the teacher training being
provided by Anthroposophists, are endorsing the religion called
Anthroposophy, which is a New Age occultic religion,” Kendall further
explained.

Jue, trying to draw a contrast with the Waldorf curriculum in private
schools, said that the Waldorf program at her school is not at all
religious.

“We have been most careful,” Jue said. “Our training has been very
secular, if you want to consider Anthroposophy as a religion. Our
training has not even involved Anthroposophy at all.”

Jue added that all of her teachers are credentialed by the state of
California, and that it was only after having received state credentials
that they obtained further certification in Waldorf education at Rudolf
Steiner College.

“It made sense, since Rudolf Steiner College is in town, that the
training be through them,” said Jue. “But again, it was geared for the
public school teacher. It was not geared for the private school
teacher.”

Nevertheless, both Snell and Kendall believe the school districts’
implementation of the Waldorf curriculum violates the First Amendment’s
Establishment Clause. According to the Supreme Court, “the Establishment
Clause (has come) to mean that government may not promote or affiliate
itself with any religious doctrine or organization, may not discriminate
among persons on the basis of their religious beliefs and practices, may
not delegate a governmental power to a religious institution, and may
not involve itself too deeply in such an institution’s affairs.”

“The basic premise of this case is if a Christian school or Catholic
school tried to receive charter school status or get public funding, it
would be crushed immediately. That would never happen,” said Kendall.
“So basically, the premise of the lawsuit is that New Age religion
should be treated the same way.”

“PLANS does not believe that the school districts are intentionally
promoting religion,” Snell said of both the Sacramento City and Twin
Ridges school districts. “What we believe is that unsuspecting board
members have been fraudulently sold religious pedagogy by the
Anthroposophical Rudolf Steiner College.”

Indeed, “The Waldorf Teacher’s Survival Guide” suggests that
Anthroposophists are trying to sell their religion through the Waldorf
curriculum:

“The time has come for us to stop pussyfooting around and fearing
that we’ll sound too strange if we tell the parents what we are really
doing,” the guide says. “Well, we are really doing many things, on many
levels, and giving parents a clear picture of human development is by no
means giving away the most esoteric of our work. Whatever may have been
true in the past, the fact is that the parents who come to us are well
aware of spiritual matters — and I don’t only mean the New Age
parents. Many Americans today ascribe to reincarnation; most Waldorf
families know that there are transcendent elements in the human being.
… If Waldorf education is truly going to be a ‘movement for cultural
renewal,’ it is our responsibility to share with the parents those
elements of Anthroposophy which will help them understand their children
and fathom the mysterious ways in which we work.”

District Court Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr., in reviewing the
arguments of both the school districts and PLANS, has so far come to the
conclusion there is substantial evidence that public funding of Waldorf
schools may violate the Constitution. The trial date is currently set
for Feb. 28 of next year.

Pacific Justice Institute, the non-profit organization funding the
case for Snell, is confident the judge will rule in favor of their
client.

Speaking for his organization, Brad Dacus said, “In general, the
Court has concluded that this is not a bogus lawsuit, and it has merit.
We’re convinced that when the facts are fully addressed before the
court, that we will prevail.”

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