Judge OK’s Public Funding of Spiritualist-Based Schools

Sacramento, CA – A federal judge has ruled that an unusual belief system called Anthroposophy is not a religion, so public schools can continue to utilize its methodology.

The ruling followed a short trial in which Judge Frank Damrell excluded nearly all of the evidence presented by People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools, Inc. (PLANS), which has been battling for 12 years against public funding of Waldorf 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. He became dissatisfied with Christianity and developed his own beliefs called anthroposophy. 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 to lead attorney D. Michael Bush, and plans to participate in an anticipated appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. During the case’s long history, the Ninth Circuit has already ruled twice in favor of PLANS on procedural issues.

Kevin Snider, Chief Counsel of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “This ruling illustrates the double standard that many people see in public education: widely-held beliefs like Christianity and Judaism are excluded, while unusual beliefs like Anthroposophy are promoted. We believe this dichotomy is legally untenable, and we look forward to appellate review.”

PLANS can be found on the internet at www.waldorfcritics.org.