This week, PJI staff attorneys filed legal papers to become co-counsel with lead attorney D. Michael Bush in appealing the case to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The suit was rejected last fall by a federal judge in Sacramento after he determined that the belief system, called Anthroposophy, was not a “religion” and thus could not violate separation of church and state.
The ruling followed a short trial in which Judge Frank Damrell excluded nearly all of the evidence presented by plaintiff People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools, Inc. (Plans, Inc.), which has been battling for more than 12 years against public funding of Waldorf-method charter schools. Waldorf education is an activity of Anthroposophy, which was founded in the early 20th century by an Austrian named Rudolf Steiner, who split off from Theosophy to formulate his own teachings and cult-like following. Steiner’s teachings integrated the Hinduism of Theosophy with Gnostic Christianity and European occultism. Among other things, Steiner believed in reincarnation and taught that some races have greater spiritual maturity than other races. Waldorf schools require all teachers—even for their taxpayer-funded schools—to be trained at Anthroposophy seminaries such as Rudolf Steiner College in the Sacramento area.
Pacific Justice Institute was involved in the initiation of this lawsuit in 1998, has been providing research assistance recently and is formally joining the case to battle the favorable treatment being given to unusual beliefs like Anthroposophy while mainstream Judeo-Christian values are excluded from public schools.
During the case’s long history, the Ninth Circuit has already ruled twice in favor of PLANS on procedural issues.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, stated, “We are committed to litigating as long as it takes to erase the double standard in public education which welcomes the influence of the occult while closing the door to mainstream Judeo-Christian beliefs.”
Plans, Inc. can be found on the internet at www.waldorfcritics.org.