Chapter 11 considers Pennsylvania’s Hatboro-Horsham School District (HHSD)’s determination that the proposed Good Earth Charter School (GE) is religiously sectarian. GE is a Waldorf Methods school, premised on Rudolf Steiner’s (1861-1925) anthroposophy, a religious cosmology that explains humanity’s spiritual evolution from cosmic origins and anticipates humanity’s attainment of divine nature. Although Waldorf charter schools withstood a legal challenge in California in PLANS, Inc. v. Sacramento City Unified School Distict, Twin Ridges Elementary School District (1998–2012), HHSD found that GE’s curriculum, teacher training, and affiliations reflect its anthroposophic foundations. Contrasting the California and Pennsylvania cases illustrates how resource disparities can affect legal determinations of what counts as religion. This chapter argues that Waldorf Methods charter schools illustrate how a pedagogical approach can be secular and religious. GE’s curriculum is aligned with state educational standards, and there are public Waldorf Methods schools that promote secular interests by offering an arts-focused education to students who otherwise could not afford it. Yet, Waldorf’s distinctive pedagogy—including its meditation practices—is an outgrowth of Steiner’s esoteric understanding of child development. Modern anthroposophists have in two separate court cases argued successfully that anthroposophy is a religion for free exercise purposes.
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