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At Idaho GOP convention, lobbyist advocates for state-sponsored Christian education

Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti speaks to Idaho Republican Party convention attendees about promoting Christianity in state government on Thursday. (Kelcie Moseley-Morris/Idaho Capital Sun)
Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti speaks to Idaho Republican Party convention attendees about promoting Christianity in state government on Thursday. (Kelcie Moseley-Morris/Idaho Capital Sun)

Family Policy Center president: Purpose of public school is to teach love of God and country

The Idaho GOP convention began Thursday with a lobbyist arguing for more Christian control over childhood education.

Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti made a case to a classroom full of Republicans — gathered Thursday for the Idaho Republican convention at the College of Southern Idaho — for a Christian approach to government on several social issues, and said he’d like to see public schools run by churches.

“Even the public schools in early America were always administered by the local church,” Conzatti said. “So I’d like to see that again. But until we get there, the question is, how do we mitigate the harm that’s done and do as much good as we can in the system?”

Conzatti was a featured speaker on the agenda for the GOP convention, which began Thursday morning and will conclude Saturday evening.

The Idaho Family Policy Center is a nonprofit organization that calls itself a “ministry that advances the lordship of Christ in the public square through engaging the church, promoting God-honoring public policy, and training statesmen.”

The center has drafted and pushed several significant pieces of legislation in the past two years, including at least four successful bills related to abortion and two failed bills related to health care for transgender minors and keeping “obscene material” out of the hands of minors in public libraries.

Conzatti bases his arguments on statements from America’s Founding Fathers about Christianity. While historians argue the nation’s founders explicitly wanted religion out of government after declaring independence from the religiously dominated England, Conzatti singled out quotes about how human laws must conform to God’s laws.

“How do we preserve a constitutional government in the United States? Through education based upon the Christian religion,” Conzatti said. “Again, what’s the purpose of a public education? Love of God, love of country.”

Conzatti discussed several lightning rods in right-wing politics, such as sex education in schools and policies on what bathrooms a student can use based on their biological sex.

He also said the center is against state funding for early childhood education, which is meant for children between 3 and 5 years old, because he said the idea is rooted in Marxism.

Idaho does not have a state-funded early childhood education program.

According to the National Education Association, children who attend early childhood education programs are less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to have special needs and are more likely to graduate from high school.

“I would encourage you, as you are thinking about who to vote for, as you’re thinking about policy solutions, how to make (Idaho) a better place for families,” Conzatti said. “Let’s pursue true north, which is God’s truth.”

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.