The Christian Nationalist Ideologies of a Law School Professor

Professor Lee Strang is a Christian Nationalist law professor who is the go to guy for the religious extremists in the Ohio state house when they need conservative justifications for hurting the people of Ohio. Strang also founded a public charter school that is really religious. He also believes the 1st amendment doesn’t apply to atheists or secular humanists.

Episode 62: The Christian Nationalist Ideologies of a Law School Professor

In this large size episode, we’re venturing into a discussion about renowned Professor Lee Strang, a symbolic figure of Christian Nationalism in Northwest Ohio. From his significant role in academia as a law professor at the University of Toledo to his controversial advocacy for so-called Intellectual Diversity centers at Ohio law schools, Strang’s influence is widespread and thought-provoking. His recent participation in State Issue One showcases his role at the core of significant legal and societal debates.

Our discussion doesn’t shy away from the controversial aspects of Strang’s work. We dissect his interpretation of the First Amendment, where he argues it excludes atheism and secular humanism from the definition of religion, and discuss his belief that an unborn fetus should be constitutionally protected. We also touch on his founding of the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy, a religious school disguised as a public charter school with a distinct approach to education, and how his views on constitutional selective originalism shape his approach to these institutions.

Finally, we delve into the complexities of Strang’s Christian nationalist influence and discuss the appearence of a quid pro quo with the leaders of the Ohio Republican Party and Ohio anti-abortion groups. By examining Strang’s founding of the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy and his attempts to pass State Issue 1 with State Senator and former student Rob McColley, we provide an intriguing look into the dynamics of Trumpian politics. Whether you agree with his views or not, Strang’s influence in Ohio and beyond cannot be ignored. Tune in for a fascinating exploration of one man’s impact on law, education, and society in the state of Ohio.

Editor’s note: Professor Strang was invited to be a guest on the show to talk about these topics. He initially agreed to appear then shortly before it was to be recorded he canceled the interview.

00:56 Introduction And Clarifications
11:27 Originalism And The 1St Amendment
24:27 Anti-Abortion Activist
30:05 Letter About Homosexuality Harming Families
41:30 Founding Of Religious School Disguised As A Public Charter School
55:13 Media Darling

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Lee Strang Website
Northwest Ohio Classical Academy
Barney Charter School Initiative

The Meaning of ‘Religion’ in the First Amendment (2001)

Center for Christian Virtue

Lee Strang Dossier by ‘Whip Hendricks’


Click Here to Read Full Transcript

[0:00] This is Glass City Humanist, a show about humanism, humanist values, by a humanist. Here is your host, Douglas Berger. Lee Strang is locally well-known as a constitutional law professor, and he also has some strong Christian nationalist tendencies that have helped the religious extremists in the Ohio legislature hurt many Ohio citizens. It probably is no surprise that he also doesn’t think the First Amendment religion clauses apply to atheists and secular humanists. Glass City Humanist is an outreach project of the secular humanists of Western Lake Erie, building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow.

[0:41] Music.

[0:54] One of the things that I have tried to do with this podcast over the time that I’ve been doing it is I’ve really been trying to hold to the humanist principle that all our ideas are open to questioning and examination. In humanism, we examine our beliefs on a continual basis based on new information that we may receive and we may change our viewpoints on something. The classic one I always give is I tell people that I’ve changed my views on homeschooling. I used to be very, very much against homeschooling 20, some 25 years ago.

[1:46] You know, and I fell into that same myth, mythology about homeschooling that it’s insular and kids need to socialize and so they need to do that in a public school, etc., etc. And I came around. I came around because, you know, we see religious people setting up their home, you know, doing the homeschooling and they’re teaching kids religious beliefs in place of actual knowledge that they would need in order to be productive citizens, etc. So I’m thinking, well, why can’t humanist parents or free-thinking parents also homeschool their children to be more humanist and more free-thinking? So if the religious people can do it, I think that atheists, freethinkers, humanist people can do it too.

[2:44] So having said that, one of the things I’ve always been open to in this is having guests on that aren’t necessarily humanists, and I’ve had a few of those, but they’re not conservative, they’re not religious, they haven’t been conservative, they haven’t been religious, overtly religious, put it that way, and I want to have discussions. And one of the things that I’ve seen since I’ve lived in Toledo is I’ve been exposed to Professor Lee Strang. He’s a professor at the University of Toledo Law School. He’s a constitutional law professor and the reason why I’ve been exposed to him is because he’s appeared in Toledo media quite often. He’s had several articles written about him in the Toledo Blade, they’ve had him on local local TV stations to explain constitutional issues, Jerry Anderson in the Leading Edge interviewed him, I think just shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned. He’s the go-to guy in local media when you want to talk about constitutional issues.

[4:10] I’ve been concerned about Professor Strang for some time and it kind of coalesced recently when the state government, the state legislature was considering giving the University of Toledo three million dollars to set up what was essentially a conservative think tank. And then I kind of find out that Professor Strang, it was his idea. And so.

[4:40] Kind of looks like he’s getting a payback for helping and I found this out later that he’s been helping the Ohio, Republican Party in some of their extremist laws, He’s he gave testimony to support State issue one that at the time that this is going to be, At the time that this is recorded. I’m recording this on Election Day, August the 8th, And so he had a hand in that that. Some other concerns I had was during the pandemic, he got together a group of parents to sue the state to try to get the mask mandate that was required in schools to get the mask mandate thrown out. During the pandemic, there was another situation where he was interviewed about a professor in Southern Ohio who was reprimanded.

[5:42] He lost pay or something like that, because he refused to use the preferred pronouns for one of his students. And of course, Professor Strang supported that professor’s, ultimately, that professor won his lawsuit, and Professor Strang supported that decision. All right, so then I had a friend of the show, who I can’t name because he wants to remain anonymous, sent me several pages of information that shows the Christian Nationalist ideology of Professor Strang. And so I wanted to talk to him about it. One of the things that when I was investigating was I found a paper that he had written in 2001 or 2002 I think it was 2001, that where he made the claim and made the argument that first amendment religious protections do not cover atheists or humanists all right so I wanted to talk to him so what I did was, I sent him an email. I said, you know, I have this podcast Glass City Humanist, You know, I’d like to interview you about these things and I said, you know, you’re an anti-abortion activist, I was interested in your paper.

[7:04] And some other issues and I said, you know, I’d like to interview you Thinking that he was not going to agree And he sent me an email back saying I would love to appear on your show. I’m like great, So we worked it out To the date that we were gonna do it was July 31st, and we were gonna do it at the studios for WAKT, Because he wanted to do it in person which is fine and, so We scheduled that so I was thinking about things that I was going to say and working some questions out and, Comes out a week before I send an email, Reminder email saying, you know, you’ve agreed to meet with me on the 31st at 1 o’clock. We’re gonna, to talk for about an hour. Here are some.

[7:58] He sends me an email back saying that he didn’t appreciate some of the topics that I wanted to talk about, like saying that he was an anti-abortion activist, and he said I didn’t know this was going to be all about me, I thought we were going to talk about policies and laws, and he said maybe we should just not do it, so he cancelled.

[8:22] Well, I have all this information. I wanted to do this episode about Professor Strang, but he’s not here to answer some of these questions. So we’re just going to go ahead and do the show, do the episode without him. I’m not making an argument or anything, and I just want to be clear. Professor Strang is a Catholic. He’s very religious, as you’ll find out in the information that I have on him. He’s a devout Catholic. He’s a supporter of the anti-abortion movement.

[9:02] I do not have a problem with people being religious. If you want to be religious, if you want to live your life according to a certain religious template and beliefs and do all that, more power to you. I have a problem when people take their religion and use it to justify extremist laws and policies that affect other people who may or may not be that religious. For example, banning abortion. I don’t believe in that. These laws that have specifically targeted the LGBT community recently. Like the SAFE Act, Reverend Click over in Fremont got the SAFE Act passed that would ban gender-affirming care.

[9:56] I disagree with that as well. If you want to be religious and live your life as your religious dictates, say, more power to you. What you can’t do is you can’t tell other people how to live their lives according to your religious dictates. And that is the main thrust of this episode talking about Professor Lee Strang. He’s not he’s not a terrible human being. He’s actually very nice. He was nice to me. You know, he didn’t like name call me or anything when he said he wasn’t going to be on and whatever. He’s a very nice guy. And I’m sure he’s a very good teacher or else he wouldn’t be having a job. I just disagree with his politics and I disagree with his religion. And I and one of the things I support is a strict separation of religion and government. And so some of this stuff I’m going to talk about comes from that viewpoint. So, I just wanted to make this introduction, clarify some things that this is not a hit piece on Professor Strang personally. This is just an example of the kinds of things that we need to get away from, especially here in Ohio, because a lot of this extremist law that Professor Strang supports hurts other people.

[11:22] And I think people need to realize that. So let’s get started. Professor Strang is a proponent of constitutional originalism. And if you’re not familiar with that term, that’s used by conservatives because they don’t like the fact that courts in the past have applied the Constitution to society changes. So like, for example, Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 on the basis that, a basis of the right to privacy. That unless somebody’s life was in danger, the mother’s life was in danger, the government had no reason to get involved with her decision to abort her pregnancy.

[12:17] That was the, I know I’m simplifying things, but that was the main argument, was the right to privacy. And that was based on an earlier court case that did away with laws that prevented doctors from talking to patients about birth control. Yeah, there used to be laws preventing doctors from talking about birth control, and the, court said, no, that’s marital stuff, that’s private, that’s no concern of the government. The same with sodomy laws. There’s a sodomy law in Texas that was struck down in, I believe it was in the 80s, late 80s, early 90s, might have been, I apologize for not having the dates. But again, the court said, what people do in their bedroom is no concern of the government. You have a right to privacy. Well, one of the major proponents, modern proponents of originalism was Justice Anton Scalia, who is no longer with us. He passed away several years ago. And he famously said in a speech at some law school or some legal thing, that the Constitution, does not include a right to privacy.

[13:34] There is no, nobody has a right to privacy because it’s not explicitly stated in the Constitution. And that’s how originalists work. If it’s not in the Constitution, then it’s not a federal question. That was the main argument that was used to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision. Abortion law or the right to an abortion was not a federal question. It was not a civil rights question, that the federal government should get involved with. And so the way the Constitution is written is a power that does not go to the federal government then gets passed on to the states. And so that’s what the Dobbs decision did was it passed the decision on to the states.

[14:24] So now, you’re going to have, instead of having a right to abortion in all the states, because of the 14th Amendment that says that you have to apply the law fairly and equally to everybody, now you’re going to have a mishmash of state laws. Various levels, some are going to ban them outright like Arkansas, some of them are going to have severe restrictions, then you’re going to have states like New York and California where it’s going to be like it was during Roe v. Wade. Michigan recently approved a state constitutional amendment that protects reproductive rights. And here in the state of Ohio, they just got certified for a ballot measure in November that would do the same in Ohio. That if it passes, it would also protect reproductive rights in Ohio. So it would depend on where you live, whether or not you had a right to reproduce, you had reproductive rights. And you can see how that’s unfair. You really do. Because I would think that bodily autonomy is a primary civil right. I mean, they have, you know, it starts out with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You know, how does banning abortion fill any of those requirements. They don’t.

[15:54] But that’s for another episode. We’re not going to get into that argument right off the bat. But anyway, so Scalia was famous for this, that there’s no such thing as, privacy and originalism. And so some people might be confused.

[16:15] So basically there’s two slightly different understandings of originalism. One is Original Intent that says we should interpret the Constitution based on what its drafters originally intended when they wrote it. The other is that we should interpret the Constitution based on the original meaning of the text, not necessarily what the founders intended, but how the words they used would have generally been understood at the time. It says both versions of Originalism, Original Intent, and Original Meaning contend that the Constitution has permanent, static meaning that’s baked into the text. Originalism in either iteration is contrary to the Living Constitution theory. That’s one legal expert’s belief that they call it Living Constitution. But what it is, is interpreting the Constitution as if it was written today rather than when it was written in 17 in the 1790s. Okay, so that’s originalism. Strang was is a big proponent of that. He also wrote a paper in 2012 that called into question whether or not the First Amendment applied to atheists.

[17:39] His argument in that paper was that the word, the First Amendment, only talks about religion. So the title of this paper was called, The Meaning of Religion in the First Amendment. And the abstract from it is, this article articulates the original meaning of quote, religion, unquote, in the First Amendment. This article contends that religion in 1791 meant belief in a God with concomit duties in this life and a future state of rewards and punishments. Religion did not encompass atheism.” And that is a very provocative.

[18:22] Paper. And if you read it, he makes the argument based on his reading of history, and the Founders and how they felt about things that the originalist meaning or the actual meaning of the term religion meant Christianity, or at least a monotheistic religion that believed in punishment and rewards in the afterlife. So that’s what he believes that the First Amendment, the Establishment and Free Exercise clause covers religion, but not anybody that’s not religious, like secular humanists.

[19:14] And he goes on for many, many, many pages talking about originalism and the meaning. So the paper is available free of charge from this paper website, and I’ll put the link in the show notes so you can actually read the whole thing. But what I wanted to know, and this is what I wanted to talk to him about if he was going to be on the show was his conclusion. OK, so on page 239, well, it’s not 239 pages, it’s on the 59th page of his paper. But in this journal that it was published in, it was page 239.

[19:59] And it was and this was published in 2002. Says here, he writes, the string writes in the realm of the establishment clause, persons who sue claiming that the government has established a religion when the religion is secular humanism would not prevail under the original meaning of the Constitution. Secular humanism is a belief system that places individual autonomy as the top belief and claims that value is individual relative, guided by human reason. With these beliefs, secular humanism is not considered a religion by even the most attenuated originalist definition, and thus persons seeking to prevent the government from espousing such beliefs would not succeed under the original meaning of religion.

[20:55] Finally, if the government seeks to exclude certain groups that are religious in the modern, broad sense from access to fora that religious groups, traditionally understood, are admitted to, does not constitute discrimination in violation of the Establishment Clause. If a group’s belief system does not conform to the original meaning of a religion, that group has no Establishment Clause claim. The exclusionary government would not have the defense, however, of avoiding establishment clause problems in a free speech claim by the excluded group. So, you know that was basically what I was trying to look for is a lot of times when people like Strang make these these arguments about original meanings and, and whether or not somebody deserves certain rights or fetuses or people is I I always wanna know what the end game is. What is the result? What are you looking for to happen if we say, okay, we’ll do this, then what?

[22:08] And here he’s saying that even though secular humanists couldn’t have a complaint for establishment clause reasons, because secular humanism is not a religion, they would possibly have a case under free speech jurisprudence.

[22:30] So I don’t know. Like I said, it was a provocative paper, and it’s something that I wanted to discuss with him, pretty much, if he was here, and get his thoughts about it. Because.

[22:42] You know, I think that the way that the courts address deeply held beliefs as religious, quote unquote, for purposes of the First Amendment, I think that is more fair and more just, than saying, well, you know, these Christians, they get an exemption because of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clause, but me, being a secular humanist, I don’t get the same exemption because I’m not a religion. And so I have to file a lawsuit based on free speech reasons. And I just can see, I’m not lawyer, but I can see the problems with that. And so if you want to read up more on the definition of religion in the First Amendment, there’s a case from 1970, a conscientious objector case called Welsh v. United States. It talks about it, he talks about, Strang talks about it in his paper and some other ones too, but that one, the Welsh one, is the most most recent one that expanded the definition of religion to include any deeply held belief.

[24:02] So basically, Strang’s an originalist who doesn’t believe that atheists are protected under the First Amendment. Well, modify that. Not protected under the Establishment or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. For more information about the topics in this episode, please visit One of the other items that he took exception to, that Professor Sterling took exception to was that I had called him an anti-abortion activist and he said that was not a good characterization.

[24:42] The thing is, you know, I have receipts. This dossier that this friend of the show put together has some very good information about Strang and his anti-abortion activities. For example, you can learn more about Strang’s position by listening to his 60-minute interview on May 3, 2022 with the president of the Center for Christian Virtue, the day after the leaked Roe v. Wade opinion was announced. And again, I need to point out that the Center for Christian Virtue funded his anti-abortion amicus brief in the Dobbs decision that made the argument that unborn fetuses were people. Strang is also the past secretary and a current member of the Foundation for Life, which is an umbrella organization that includes all the anti-abortion groups in Toledo and Northwest Ohio.

[25:45] On May 17, 2022, the organization hosted Strang for his talk on the case for personhood at Post Rowe. The event was held in the evening at the school he founded, the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy. In 2019, Peter Range, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, interviewed Strang for his show on Annunciation Radio to discuss the basis for overturning Roe v. Wade.

[26:16] [Lee Strang] And there’s also another issue that in the pro-life community we’ve debated for a long period of time, and that is even if there’s not a constitutional right to abortion, is there a constitutional right to life for unborn human beings in the United States? And that debate has been going on since Roe versus Wade. And honestly, as I told Aaron, my view had been that there was not a constitutional right to personhood for unborn humans, but then after a series of articles that I read last spring, that I started to think, gosh, maybe I better rethink that issue, and it culminated after a conversation with Aaron in a brief that I submitted in my own name to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing for an interpretation of the word person in the 14th Amendment that would protect all human beings, including unborn human beings. So the case is personally important to me as a scholar, but of course as a pro-lifer, but as a scholar as well. And Aaron played a big role in helping me think through and move towards doing that. So thank you.

[27:13] [Douglas] In 2011, Strang wrote a letter of testimony to the Ohio Senate Health and Human Services and Aging Committee supporting passage of the informed consent provisions of HB 125, also called the Heartbeat Bill. He shared that he was a board member of Toledo Area Right to Life and directly declared his goal of outlawing abortion. And there’s, I also have a Facebook posting from the Foundation for Life of Northwest Ohio with a picture of Professor Strang speaking at his school to 75 guests on the history of U.S. Supreme Court abortion decisions in Roe v. Wade and Dobbs case, also the argument for personhood. And then I also have an image of the quarterly publication for the Foundation for Life from the summer of 2013 that shows board members and it shows Lee Strang as secretary. And also his friend from UT, Kirk Ross, was also on the board at that time. So that is the receipts on his anti-abortion activism. I mean, you don’t write paper, you don’t write amicus briefs and talk about personhood for fetuses, and serve on the board of the Foundation for Life if you’re not anti-abortion.

[28:34] And he’s an anti-abortion activist because he actually does things to try to get abortion abortion banned, such as giving a justification for state issue one, which is primarily on the ballot in order to sabotage the Reproductive Rights Amendment that’s supposed to be voted on in November. And of course, I still don’t believe that even if State Issue 1 passes, that it’s going to affect, that, because I don’t think you can do that legally, because they’ve already completed the process, they’ve already got their signatures, they’ve been approved to be put on the ballot. So I don’t see how you could change the Constitution for future ballot measures and have that apply ex post facto is the legal terminology.

[29:58] Music.

[30:04] Professor Strang is also against the LGBT community, or doesn’t support them. Professor Strang wrote a letter back in 2003, back in February of 2003, that was published in The Record, which is the independent weekly newspaper at Harvard Law School. And it’s titled, Private, in quotation marks, Acts, Public’s Harm.

[30:35] Kind of set the set the stage for this particular letter. At the time that Strang wrote his letter, the U.S. Supreme Court was considering the case of Lawrence v. Texas, and Lawrence v. Texas was a lawsuit that claimed that Texas’s sodomy laws were unconstitutional.

[30:58] Sodomy laws are typically understood to include consensual, adult, non-procreative sexual activity. A lot of times it includes same-sex sexual activity. It can also include masturbation. It can also include other sexual activities. And so, because of people not liking homosexuality or masturbation or anything like that, they’ve, had laws that included heavy fines, prison sentences, or both with some states, with Illinois, beginning with Illinois in 1827, they could also keep you from voting, take away rights, etc., etc. As of 1960, every state had an anti-sodomy law, and in 1961, the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code advocated the repeal of sodomy laws as they applied to private adult consensual behavior. Now, this is the key. This is the key when we’re talking about laws, sodomy laws, information on birth control, which also used to be illegal, abortion.

[32:20] Anything that you do in the privacy of your own home, as long as it does not harm other people, The government has no business sticking its nose into it.

[32:35] And so it’s really important to note that the sodomy laws outlawed consensual adult non-procreative sexual activity. And it was particularly used to target homosexual men and you could be put in jail. It’s like if somebody knew you were in a homosexual relationship, they could assume that you were having sex and the police could break down your door and arrest you. That’s how these laws worked. So in 2003, the court was considering Lawrence v. Texas. And so the way it happened was the court eventually ruled 6-3 that adult consensual non-procreative of sexual activity was protected by the Constitution because you had a right to privacy. So again, as long as you are not harming other people, that’s why it says consensual, that’s why they define it as consensual. As long as you were not harming other people, then the court said the government needed to keep its nose out of it.

[33:59] So, that case was decided in June. So in February of 2003, currently, Professor Strang sent this letter to the Harvard Law School newspaper saying, Private Acts, Public Harm. So I’m going to read the beginning of it, or most of the beginning of it, and then I’ll have some comments on it. And so he writes, he says, A look at this term’s Supreme Court docket reveals another example of a continuing conflict in our society between two rival and incompatible visions of the nature of man and society. This particular case, Lawrence v. Texas, involves a petition by two men convicted under the Texas sodomy statute. The court must choose whether to force states to abide by one of the two rival visions of society. One vision, represented by the petitioners, is of a society that does not seek to guide its citizens to become fully integrated human beings. This society is agnostic between different views of the good possessed by its people. As a result, it cannot help people reject, activity that is harmful to them so long as the activity does not directly impede the rest of the citizens from pursuing their vision of the good. This society must not prohibit private activity, no matter how immoral.

[35:29] And then he next says, The opposing vision is Christian and Aristotelian. Most Christians believe that men are created with a purpose to love God, to serve him and to be with him in heaven. According to First Corinthians 6.9, homosexual activity and social tolerance of such activity, contravenes the individuals and society’s purposes. According to this worldview, both homosexuals and those who are exposed to them are harmed when society refuses to proscribe their private activity. Of course, Strang doesn’t mention what that harm is. I’m assuming by based on the text, that a person is harmed from serving God or to love God.

[36:20] Because if you’re having sex not to procreate, then for some reason that’s an offense against God. And yes, I do know that the Bible talks about homosexuality and not in a good way. But again, we’re talking about religious beliefs. You know, he says in his piece here that the activity is immoral. Well, how does he know it’s immoral? Because the Bible tells him that it’s immoral. That might be a valid thing for him, you know, if he feels that way, if he feels that homosexuality is harmful and immoral, then he should not perform those activities. So then they did a poll quote where they take a bit and highlight it, and it says, and he writes, people who have not yet discovered the truth or are confused about their purpose are harmed by a society that does not prescribe homosexual activity. These people are tempted to believe that such activity is not harmful.

[37:32] Well, technically it’s not harmful. If you’re a consenting adult and you’re having non-procreative sex, who are you harming? That’s the question. Who are you harming? It shouldn’t be against the law if you’re not harming anybody. Again, if it’s consensual, you’re not harming anybody. As long as they’re adults, you’re not harming anybody.

[38:03] People say, well, if you don’t, and in some of the things that they’re talking about, and I think he kind of alludes here, that if you don’t, if the court doesn’t rule, correctly on this, then who knows? All bets are off, and there’ll be sex everywhere, all kinds of immoral sex. No, not necessarily. We still have laws against sex with children. We still have laws against incest and things like that. This is just talking about sodomy. This is talking about consensual, adult, non-procreative sex. And the government needs to keep their, nose out of it. Then it says here, Christian parents today are faced with a culture that attempts to subvert at every turn their struggle to enable their children to achieve their purpose. My wife and I want our children to know that sexual intimacy is, by God’s design and man’s nature, made to bring a man and woman together as husband and wife and to co-create with God new people. We do not want to live in a community that tries to tell our children exactly the opposite. In a society that permits homosexual activity, we have to explain to our children before their years would otherwise make it necessary why people harm themselves and why homosexual activity is wrong.

[39:31] You know, that’s his opinion. That’s his opinion based on his religious beliefs. And the fact that he’s telling his children, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. Now, I do have a problem if you then use that belief to make sodomy laws outlawing homosexual sex or any consensual adult non-procreative sexual activity. Because it’s none of your business what happens in the privacy of somebody’s bedroom. And just because somebody is in a house down the street having sex and not making babies, doesn’t have anything to do with your children. It doesn’t have anything to do with how you raise your children. You know, they’re going to know soon enough, that there are differences, that not everybody follows the Bible, not everybody is trying to love God, and there are different people. People love other people. Love is love, whether it’s same-sex or different sex or intersex or any of those things. And so this letter, it just shows his Christian nationalism in a blazing red flag.

[40:58] That he would talk about this Supreme Court case before it had even been decided, that he’s making these assumption that homosexuality is immoral and it’s harmful. To who? Not to him. And if he feels that it’s immoral, then he should not perform those acts. Simple as that.

[41:22] Music.

[41:29] So, let’s get to talking about his founding of his school. It’s the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy. It’s a conservative public charter school that opened in 2019, and now enrolls about 500 students. And it says, Strang says the idea first started in his living room when several families gathered to brainstorm options for their children. And the information I have quotes him, says we were from all different backgrounds, different schooling choices, he says, but we were not happy with the options. Homeschooling was time consuming and burdensome to family life. Private school was expensive and tuition was a strain on family resources or the education provided was not considered worth the price. Public education had low, low academic value or was inconsistent with their family values. We wondered how we could start a private, religiously-oriented school that would provide an education consistent with family values.

[42:34] And so the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy is a public charter school. And what that means is it accepts state tax dollars to operate. It is not overtly religious, it meets in a church or a former church building, but they don’t have a chapel, and they don’t have ministers teaching classes, and religious education isn’t really done. It’s done in the context of social studies, just talking about different religions. It’s not like a Catholic school at all, or an evangelical private school at all. The classical academy movement, I call it a movement, is a conservative-based.

[43:31] Alternative to a religious school in that it basically hides the religious intent.

[43:39] So that you can get tax dollars easily and not run afoul of state law or federal law that prohibits schools from getting direct money from the government. I mean, they teach Latin. They teach Latin in this school. Latin is a dead language. I was talking to somebody who went to a Catholic school in the 80s, and back in the 80s, Latin was optional for Catholic students. You know, there’s no real use for Latin, but they add it to add on to this classical. So it does, basically it It focuses on, for like literature, it focuses on dead white men, and in history it deals with all the good things about America and doesn’t talk about the bad things, at least not comprehensively as we should. And so they had a family handbook that really kind of gave me pause. They have a section on teaching controversial issues. And we’ve seen in the news, these parent groups, supposedly grassroots parents complaining about CRT, and grooming children and removing inappropriate books, et cetera, et cetera. So this Northwest Ohio Classical Academy has a section in their family handbook, about teaching controversial issues.

[45:09] And it goes on, it says controversial issues are defined as contemporary problems, subjects, or questions of a political, religious, or social nature where there are entrenched differences of opinion and passions are on high. Controversial issues will be explored only when emanating from some part of the curriculum in grades 9 through 12. When these subjects come up, teachers will present an impartial view of both sides of the issue without prophetizing. Very controversial issues will not be discussed in the elementary school, even if part of the core knowledge sequence, without headmaster approval. Parents will have the choice of having their children opt out of this portion of the class. This is what got me. No part of the curriculum will be used to undermine the nobility of America’s experiment in liberty and self-government under the rule of law.

[46:04] So basically, they’re going to whitewash everything, and that I have a problem with. And I get it, I get it why some adults don’t want their children to learn the truth about history and about America’s experiment and liberty and self-government. I’m guessing they probably don’t want their kids to learn about the Trail of Tears. They don’t want them to know about the internment camps during World War II. They don’t want them to know about the Civil Rights era and the fact that it took a hundred years from the time that the slaves were freed before they were considered actual citizens and could vote. It’s tough to explain stuff like that, I guess. They just kind of want to avoid reality. I’m guessing. Anyway, so then they have a next section on teaching evolution.

[47:11] So it says Northwest Ohio Classical Academy embraces a rigorous program in the natural sciences. In biology, the school will teach the theory of evolution as found in the standard high school biology textbooks, as also taught at the college level of both secular and religious, The theory of evolution is largely misunderstood today by the general public. Much of what constitutes the teaching of evolution concerns adaptation of species to their environment and change over time. A great many of these phenomena are observable. A very small percentage of evolutionary theory deals with the more controversial issue of the origins of life, and in particular human life. This latter aspect of evolution, to the extent it is taught, will be introduced to students briefly with a great deal of circumspection. It is not a central part of the theory there. Furthermore, the study of science will be confined to the investigation of the physical world. It is not the place of science to make metaphysical claims, nor to confirm or deny the validity of religion or the existence of God.” And then it says, “…the role of the teacher in a public school is neither that of preacher nor of skeptic.

[48:22] Rather, teachers of history, when called upon by the curriculum, will teach the history of religion without either advocating or undermining religion in general or any specific faith like why science teachers will teach science, without comment on religion. Teachers, students, parents must realize that a biology class has a particular purpose and is not a proper venue for a philosophical or theological discussion on the existence of God or claims relating to the activity of God or absence thereof in the natural world. That sounds completely reasonable, other than the fact that they’re ignoring macroevolution and only staying with microevolution. So then we get to where they talk about teaching human sexuality. And I’m not going to read the whole thing. A red flag just lit up the sky when I read this part. It says here, under Teaching Human Sexuality, “…sexual intercourse will only be discussed in the context of a monogamous relationship between two people of opposite sexes.”.

[49:32] That right there tells me this is a religious school. It’s not a difference of opinion. And they took a specific position. Now remember, when talking about evolution and science, they said they weren’t going to take a position on anything, they were just going to teach the facts. We get to human sexuality and it’s only going to be a monogamous relationship between two people of opposite sexes.

[49:59] That means that if Timmy has two moms, they’re not going to discuss their two moms in class. And the other thing that bothered me about this too, is they’re going to teach human sexuality in the fifth grade. Okay? And they give parents the opportunity to review the materials, talk to the teacher, and they even have the opportunity to opt their children out of this whole thing. Okay? And then it says, depending on the general maturity level of the fifth grade boys, NOCA may decide that this curriculum is too much information and less necessary for boys at this stage of development and therefore delay these lessons for a later time. Yeah, why are they putting that on the boys? The boys are the ones that need to know this stuff, and they’re the ones that need to know the facts about human sexuality. And there’s also a bit about anti-abortion. It rears its ugly head within that school as well. They do field trips.

[51:08] And one of the field trips that they did was several girls from, and this was back in 2020, several girls from the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy freshman class found a way to help bring Christmas cheer to community members unable to have visitors during, this special time of year. The girls wrote personalized Christmas letters to the residents of the Glendale Assisted Living Center, and a generous donor provided hand-knit stockings for the residents. The girls also bought baby toys and baby essentials for Heartbeat of Toledo. Heartbeat of Toledo is one of those fake pregnancy crisis centers that receive tax dollars in, order to convince women not to have abortions. The other thing, too, is that they had Jimmy Seitz, who is a religious speaker, speak at the school and sign autographs for the kids. And in the comments it says, wow, public school, good stuff right there. God is in the move. So, they expose the kids to religion during the school day in the school building, but it’s not a religious school, supposedly.

[52:30] And then they take field trips to Greenfield Village in Michigan. It says, N-O-C-A first graders enjoy the field trip to Greenfield Village in Michigan. Our students learned the truth about the men and women who contributed to America’s greatness. Instead of using the quote-history-unquote of the 1619 Project at Greenfield Village, our students saw first-hand the positive impact of America’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, entrepreneurship, about which they have been learning in our BSCI Curriculum. That would be a good time. BSCI is the Barney School Curriculum Initiative. And that is from Hillsdale College, which is an evangelical Christian college connected to the DeVos family, which is the Amway people. Betsy DeVos was Secretary of Education under Trump. So this curriculum is from Hillsdale College and it’s an alternative to public school curriculums. And basically, it’s a whitewash. It’s a whitewash of real history to protect the children.

[53:45] They also, back in 2021, says the NOCA upper school students engaged in the legislative process today, by attending the Foundation for Life Legislative Breakfast. The students had the opportunity to listen to the keynote speaker, State Representative Derrick Marin, 47th House District, and he’s from Monclova Township. He is an evangelical Christian nationalist. He explained the various bills and issues he and his colleagues are working on for for the state of Ohio and our local community. In February of this year, the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy had a Liberty Gala fundraiser, and their keynote speaker was Steve, Deese, who is a conservative activist, who basically supports Donald Trump. And he wrote, he says, tremendous. This Steve Deese on his, Twitter feed says, tremendous weekend here in Toledo with real Patriots really doing something for the King of Kings and country. I’d rather do events with salt-of-the-earth folks like these than CPAC any day. They’re making much more of an actual difference. Honored to be invited. Greatly encouraged to see the faithful remnant. Remind us that a live faith will put that faith to good work.” work. And Professor Strang and his wife love Steve Deese. The other thing, too, is that.

[55:13] Professor Strang on many occasions gets puff pieces by the blade. They call on him to answer questions about constitutional issues that come up. They also interviewed him about this intellectual diversity center that’s going to be built or created at the University of Toledo and saying that this is just going to be inclusive, we’re going to have all types of views expressed, which is not true, but that’s what he says. He says, and all of these puff pieces that come out about Strang is written by Jeff Smucker at the Blade. Jeff Smucker has a child that attends the Northwest Ohio Classical Academy. He is personal friends with Professor Strang. They never disclose the connection between the two. Strang is also often favorably interviewed by conservative Christian friends Fred Lefebvre and Jerry Anderson. Northwest Ohio Classical Academy headmistress Anastasia Desmond promotes the Academy via interviews Christian media such as Proclaim!FM.

[56:37] And the the Academy also is proud to include Joel Berry among their parents. Berry is the managing editor of the Babylon Bee and co-author of their Guide to Wokeness. He also blames miserable unmarried women for the GOP losses in 2022 midterm elections. So those are some good people to hang out with your kids, huh? So, unfortunately, like I said, Professor Strang elected to cancel the interview, and, so I just needed to get this profile done. It’s something I’ve been working on for quite a while. And you know, this is somebody, Strang is just somebody who is not in favor of rights for atheists or non-believers, who tries to get exemptions for everything for believers, and he believes that the First Amendment gives them exemptions. He’s an anti-abortion activist. He founded a religious school, but disguises it as a classical academy in order to get state tax dollars.

[57:52] He also got that intellectual diversity unit to be added to the University of Toledo paid, for by state tax dollars. Now why something like that has to be paid for with state tax dollars when most of those vanity projects are paid for by donors.

[58:16] That’s how insidious these Christian nationalists are and how corrupt they are.

[58:26] Strang helped Rob McCauley in getting this State Issue 1 passed through the legislature to be put on the ballot, and they’re paying him back by giving him state tax dollars to create this conservative think tank at the University of Toledo Law School. It smells… I’m sure Professor Strang is, in general, a nice guy, but he is ultra-religious. He is no friend of secular people. And he’s teaching constitutional law, and it’s a warped idea of constitutional law.

[59:10] And so, I just wanted to make people aware about him. And so, if you see articles by Jeff Schmucker in the Toledo Blade about Strang, think of, it with a grain of salt, because it’s a puff piece and they never disclose the connection. And this is just a conservative we need to watch out for. Thank you for listening. For more information about the topics in this episode, please visit the episode page at Glass City Humanist is an outreach of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie. Surely can be reached at Glass City Humanist is hosted, written, and produced by Douglas Berger, and he’s solely responsible for the content. Our theme music is Glass City Jam, composed using the Amplify Studio. See you next time!

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Related Gallery

Teaching the controversy from NOCA Family Handbook
Teaching sexuality from NOCA Family Handbook
Getting paid for Dobbs case brief


Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley

The GCH theme is “Glass City Jam” composed using Ampify Studio

This episode by Glass City Humanist is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.