Church-State Issues with Public Waldorf Schools

Schools as Churches
Drawing almost exclusively from books in the “Foundations of Waldorf Education” series (Anthroposophical Press), I have pulled together list of statements by Rudolf Steiner indicating the religious nature of Waldorf education. I think that, for most readers, the list should prove conclusive: Steiner meant Waldorf to be religious, and thus to the degree that Waldorf teachers attend to Steiner’s expressed intentions, Waldorf schools today are religious institutions.
January 15, 2014Concerns about the state funding of Steiner schools: British Humanist Association
The BHA has a large number of varied concerns about the state funding of Steiner schools. … These concerns range from the quality of education provided, to pseudoscience on the curriculum, to homeopathy being given to pupils (which is unique), and at least one of the schools opting out of providing vaccinations (which is extremely unusual). The place of anthroposophy in the schools is consistently misunderstood. The human rights implications of state funded Steiner schools have not been properly considered.
April 12, 2013Medford school doesn’t recite Pledge of Allegiance, but bill would require it, flag in classroom: Oregon Legislature today
The director of a public charter school in Medford has defended the school’s practice of not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, saying that it has nothing to do with lack of patriotism. The Waldorf-based school believes children should understand the pledges they make, before they make them, said Joseph Frodsham, director of the Madrone Trail Public Charter School.
April 5, 2013Defamation Trial of Gregoire Perra (preliminary translation)
Gregoire Perra published an article critical of Waldorf education on the web site of UNADFI, a French anti-cult organization. An English translation of that article can be found at The French association of Waldorf schools sued Perra for defaming the schools. A trial was held in Paris April 5, 2013. Linked here is a rough translation of Perra’s notes on the trial, followed by the French original text.
January 7, 2013Tory Free Schools Plot to Spin Away the Racism of Steiner Schools
Last year, I wrote to my local MP, Lib Dem Tessa Munt, to raise concerns that the nearby opening of a state funded Steiner School raised a number of issues. Most importantly, that Steiner Schools are not open about the religious and occult nature of their philosophy and that this philosophy is based on an abhorrent racist view of human spirituality. Furthermore, children are likely to be exposed to pseudoscience, hidden spiritual agendas and nonsensical teaching philosophies.
February 27, 2012Frome Steiner Academy: Absurd Educational Quackery: Government funding of occult schools presents real risks to children’s education and health. by Andy Lewis, Quackometer blog
“Steiner schools (sometimes called Waldorf Schools) are not open about the true nature of their origins, beliefs and methods. The new web page of the Frome Steiner Academy gives the impression that they follow a progressive approach to teaching that uniquely follows a child’s personal development. That all sounds wonderful. What they do not say is that this approach is based on occult thinking, astrology, clairvoyance and esoteric cult-like beliefs.”
2012Denying and Defining Religion Under the First Amendment: Waldorf Education as a Lens for Advocating a Broad Definitional Approach by Richael Rhea.
“The greatest significance of the Waldorf dispute does not lie in its resolution; rather, the scenario more importantly foretells the manifestation of similar factual situations in the future and emphasizes the need for a workable definition of religion. Nonetheless, this author believes that, under the newly proposed definition of religion, Waldorf schools and anthroposophy would potentially earn religious classifications.” [Louisiana Law Review Vol. 72, Issue 4, note 214 p. 1127]
October 21, 2010The Steiner Waldorf cult uses bait and switch to get state funding. Part 2 102 Comments
July 22, 2009Pseudoscience – not a valid educational choice by Unity
“It seems that the DCSF now has a rather curious working definition of ‘diversity’ which now includes funnelling public money to an occult society that derives it ideas on childhood development from a thoroughly bastardised fusion of Edwardian occultism, quasi-Christian Gnosticism and badly re-written Hindu mysticism and its idea of what constitutes science from the otherwise long-discredited work of the author of Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the German Counter-Enlightenment.” There is some critique of the Woods Report. External link.
July 10, 2009Fairies at the bottom of the schoolyard
Frank blog with public discussion. “What kind of complete fucking idiot would provide state funding to a network of schools operated by a bunch of woo-peddling occultist fucknuts?”
January 27, 2009Dan Dugan speaks to the San Francisco School Board about an application for a Waldorf-inspired charter school. (external link to video 3:51)
September 14, 2007Steiner approach under review By Mary Gearin.
One investigation relates to literacy and numeracy standards, and the other comes after some parents complained that the spirituality implicit in the Steiner system was incompatible with secular public education. Transcript of ABC broadcast
July 28, 2007Questions about Steiner’s classroom by Milanda Rout, The Australian.
July 25, 2007Steiner education in State Schools
Is it Occult? Steiner education in Victorian state Schools may be stretching the secular intent of Victoria’s 1872 Education Act. The Act was the first in Australia to make education free, secular and compulsory. Transcript of ABC broadcast
July 15, 2007Talkback: Who was Rudolf Steiner?
Why the current controversy over Steiner education programmes in Victorian state schools? Transcript of ABC broadcast
Summer, 2006Steiner Preschools
More Taxpayer-Funded Loopiness. By Raymond Richards. New Zealand Skeptics Newsletter.
February 4, 2004Letter from the Anthroposophical Society to the Benicia, CA, School Board
Anthroposophists compare PLANS to!
2003Why Waldorf Programs are Unsuitable for Public Funding by Dan Dugan, Cultic Studies Review, Volume 2, Number 2
October 28, 2003Minutes of the Ross Valley School District Board denying Oak Mountain Waldorf Charter School Petition : October 28, 2003.
Nov. 16, 2002Gnomes and Critics at Waldorf Schools By Carol Milstone, National Post (Canada).
March 27, 2001Appeals Court Decision: Altman vs. Bedford Central School District
February 7, 2001Findings of the Chico Unified School District Board denying Blue Oak Waldorf Charter School Petition
October 30, 2000Religion or Philosophy?
Critics say Waldorf schools’ unusual methods make them ineligible for public funding An article appearing October 30, 2000 on the front page of The San Francisco Chronicle.
October 7, 1999WCBM “Uninhibited Radio”
Transcript of radio program on Waldorf Education and PLANS’ lawsuit, October 7, 1999 on WCBM Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. Host: Les Kinsolving. Guests: Dan Dugan, People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS); Betty Staley, Rudolf Steiner College; David Alsop, Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.
1999Reading, Writing, and “Spiritual Science”? by John W. Morehead.
1997New Age Education Supported By Public Tax Dollars?
Waldorf Charter School Controversy by John W. Morehead
Winter 1997Going Public: Schools weigh the Waldorf alternative by Nora Mealy, California Schools
March 4, 1997Twin Ridges School – A Deceptive Alternative by Dr. James M. Morton. The Union, Grass Valley-Nevada City, CA, March 4, 1997.
June 28, 1996AWSNA Position Statement
“Waldorf education is only possible if its practitioners and administrators are free to work out of a clear recognition of and commitment to the development of the spiritual nature of the human being.”
June 25, 1996Americans United to Novato School Board Letter from John C. Barker
April, 1996Charter for Indoctrination?: Why a San Diego Teacher Gives Tax-Funded Waldorf Charter Schools An ‘F’ by Rob Boston, Church and State
July 6, 1995General Counsel to San Diego School Board Letter re Tubman Village School
March, 1992The Rudolf Steiner Threat to Victorian Education by Ian Robinson
The Australian Rationalist, No 30, March 1992. If the Australian authorities had listened to Robinson back in ’92, they wouldn’t be in the trouble they are with Waldorf today.