Archives for category: Missouri

The Republican-controlled legislature in Missouri has imposed charter schools on the state’s two urban districts (but not their own). The legislature is now considering HB1552, which will financially benefit charter schools. Emily Hubbard, a parent in St. Louis, wrote to ask the Budget Committee to stop expanding and favoring charter schools and to fund the state’s public schools equitably and adequately. She sent this email to the Budget Committee, which I am posting with her permission.

Dear Budget Committee Members, 

I am planning to come speak to you in person, so I will keep this email brief. 

I am a parent of four children in St. Louis Public Schools. They are amazing kids who have been loved and taught well from our neighborhood elementary school to the magnet middle school my two oldest attend. With my youngest in second grade, I have another decade in SLPS, assuming that the district manages to survive.

Y’all, I am so tired of certain members of the state legislature pitting charter schools against public school districts. I am especially baffled that this bill is sponsored by someone with no charter schools in his district. Who is he representing with this bill? Because of the laws y’all or your predecessors have already made, this statewide law will only affect two cities (and maybe Normandy?), and I know you know these are the cities with the most Black kids (mine included). 

My new neighborhood school (we recently moved from Rep. Aldridge’s district to the 81st) is a school that serves students who speak many different languages at home. ESOL services cost money. I don’t know if you have the time to watch this video from the October legislative committee of the Board of Education, but let me remind you that around 20% of SLPS kids do not have stable housing. That’s around 5000 children. This data is 2018-2019 (from this site) , but please look at these numbers: 

all SLPS kids: 21,814

all Charter kids: 10,109

homeless population at SLPS: 4,771

homeless population at charters: 470

SLPS homeless percentage: 21.87% 

charter homeless percentage: 4.65% (but some have zero, some are high as 13%, some have closed 2019)

SLPS serves a student population with disproportionately higher needs than charter schools, whether it’s through our fantastic ESOL programs; the difficult task of walking through trauma with kids (one of my daughter’s classmate’s mother was murdered over Christmas break); the cost incurred by the desegregation program which doesn’t seem to have done that much to integrate our schools (especially the neighborhood ones) and instead allows white and privileged parents the ability to cluster in the particular magnet schools and hoard their resources for the sake of their already resourced children; or the special education costs which we shoulder alone, not shared like in the county. 

And then there’s the whole transportation thing–did you know that some charter schools don’t provide transportation? So you can’t really choose that school if you don’t have a safe way to get your kid to school and home again.

I don’t know anything about the education system in Kansas City, so I can’t speak to that, but please please please consider the effect that passing this bill will have on the children of St. Louis. 

I am an evangelical Christian (a pastor’s wife, even), and I have seen our school be the means that does the Lord’s work: they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take care of the orphan, minister to the foreigners within our gates, not to mention, for our family at least, providing an education that has enabled my children to grow in their faith as we take what they’ve learned at school and use it to glorify God together. 

Please don’t take away from funds that enable SLPS to do the work it does, however imperfectly.

And could we just as a state, fund education at a higher rate all together? I know the rural schools are struggling too. 

Also if we could alleviate homelessness, do what it takes to end gun violence, prioritize the health of all Missourians, raise the minimum wage, deal with our opioid addiction crisis…there are a ton of non-education things that if addressed, would significantly and positively affect not just our district, but all the districts. Just think about it, okay?

Thanks so much for your time–see you on Tuesday! I’m sorry that this wasn’t brief at all, I just care a whole lot.

With appreciation for the difficult work you do,

Emily Hubbard

Carondelet, St. Louis

An educator in Missouri who is known to me wrote the following:

They drive us crazy.

The Governor is in favor of anything that allows people to do whatever they want when they want – even if it breaks a law or is uncivil. That has been the case for decades – except now things they all said only at dinner tables and the back rooms are expressed boldly in public… l

He and his allies have created and validated this “no one is going to tell me what to do” culture. And it is spreading regardless of politics. If you don’t get caught – it’s ok.

Even the legislature that cares less about civility and respect – including holding a hearing on CRT with only white invitees.

The latest is a child bringing a gun to school paired with the Michigan case. Blame the parents everyone says. Well – in Missouri, there is no law (they tried) requiring that guns be locked up in homes.

Then there’s masks! Eric Schmitt, the attorney general, sued every school district with a mandate and Republican judges supported it. The governor hid a scientific report that illustrated masks do save lives and severe illness. And the list goes on and on.

Not only has it taken authority from local districts to enact a mandate, he issued “cease and desist” orders to districts with mandates AND he is tweeting and encouraging parents to sue their districts. With all of the anti-mandate stuff, to encourage parents to sue their local government is actually treasonous as well as worthy of a hot line call.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote an editorial excoriating Schmitt. The editors titled it: “How Many Missouri Lives Will Eric Schmitt Endanger to Win a Senate Seat?”

“As Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt’s job on paper is primarily to defend the state’s interests in legal matters. But to watch how he has approached that job in recent months, Missourians would think his main duty is to stamp out medically valid pandemic safety policies wherever they might sprout. Whether it’s a school board member trying to protect students, a city leader trying to protect the local citizenry, or a medical patient whose life could be put at risk by an unvaccinated health care worker, Schmitt has sided against them in court, using Missourians’ tax dollars to do it.null

“Schmitt says he is standing up to big-government intrusion by Washington regarding vaccine mandates — but then he turns around and wields the power of the state to overrule local leaders and school officials on mask mandates, imposing his own judgment (and his own political interests) in place of both local decision-making and medical science. There is nothing conservative about this litigious campaign of anti-science demagoguery. Schmitt is pandering to the irrational right, pure and simple, in his attempt to win next year’s Republican U.S. Senate primary.

Schmitt reached a new low last week, directly appealing to parents to report to his office any school districts that enforce mask policies, which he unilaterally decrees to be in violation of a court order. This extralegal stunt — reminiscent of the tactics of dictatorial strongmen who pit their citizens as informants against one another — ignores the fact that it’s not at all clear that the court’s order applies to mask policies imposed by elected school boards.”

Missourians will die because of Schmitt’s unreasonable opposition to public health measures.

A group committed to equity in schools—the Missouri Equity Education Partnership—posted a list of bills that have been filed for the 2022 session of the Legislature. The group makes no judgment about the bills. If you scan the list, you will see that the general trend is to clamp down on discussions of racism and to guarantee “parent rights.”

The first bill listed is HB 1457, which “prohibits the use of the 1619 Project in public schools.”

Several other state legislatures have already banned this book. Why should the State Legislature have the power to prohibit the use of a specific book? This is censorship. I have read The 1619 Project, and I think it is excellent course material for high school students. As I have written previously, teach the book and teach the criticism of the book, and let students debate the controversy. It will encourage them to think.

Apparently the thought of students reading about racism frightens GOP legislatures. perhaps even more frightening is the idea of students thinking for themselves. Thought control—which this is—should be banned.

The Network for Public Education created a website where. Parents could express their views about their schools. This post was written by Jessica Piper, a mom and a farmer in rural Missouri.

She writes:

I am a rural woman. I am a subsistence farmer raising hogs and chickens in Northwest Missouri in a town of 480 people. I live in a century-old farmhouse on a few acres on the Iowa border that we purchased for less than the price of a new car. I was also an American Literature teacher for sixteen years, and my children are all products of rural schools. Our youngest is still in school and her class, the entire fourth grade, consists of 16 children. 

Public schools are the heart of rural Missouri. The school bus picks up my daughter at the end of our driveway every morning, avoiding the chickens pecking in the gravel. She arrives at a tiny school that supports her and knows her well. She eats in the cafeteria that also serves as the gym. We mark the cafeteria Thanksgiving meal on our calendars to eat lunch with our kids—the turkey is pretty good but we really come for the annual tradition and because our kids expect us. Entire communities gather for Christmas pageants and band and choir concerts in our rural schools. We attend Friday night football and basketball games and reserve the rest of the evenings for softball or baseball. We know the teachers and we support schools with raffles and by buying apples and beef jerky from the yearly FFA sales. Nearly every event in our small community revolves around our school.

I tell you the story of rural schools because we are in a fight to keep our public schools funded and open in Missouri. In my state, we are 49th in funding for public schools. We don’t provide public schools with enough for the basics. The state funds just 32% of schools’ budgets, which means that residents must pay for the bulk of their local school expenses through property taxes. That means that our system is highly inequitable. The defunding of Missouri public schools has happened over the last decade, but has been on warp speed in the last five years. The school funding formula was adjusted to lower the amount a few years back, meaning we lowered the funding bar to be able to claim we met the bar. And now, even more bad news for Missouri rural schools: a voucher scheme.

In 2021, Missouri Republicans devised and signed into law a system for vouchers that will further defund public schools. This is how it works: Missouri taxpayers can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit that will pay for private school vouchers. In essence, public tax funds will be diverted to private or religious schools with no oversight or accountability for student performance. Missouri will allow folks to essentially pay their taxes directly to the private school of their choice, defunding public schools in the process. In rural Missouri, our schools are already strapped for resources. Diverting money away to any fly-by-night charter, or a private school that accepts vouchers will devastate our rural schools.

When schools are defunded, the next move is often consolidation. When a school consolidates, students may be travelling to and from school for over an hour a day. School consolidations also ravage small communities and often cause ripples that can be felt for years. In my town, the school is the largest employer. Community members who work for the school district receive health insurance through their employer, while disadvantaged children are fed through the school year through the  school free lunch program. School closures cripple small businesses and decrease property values. Our main streets empty out with the loss of a local school. When schools consolidate, rural communities lose their economic epicenter.

We must fully-fund public schools in an equitable way for all children to have the opportunity that a public education promises. Rural students and our small communities count on public schools. Charter and privatization schemes purposely funnel public tax money into private hands. That’s harmful to rural Missouri public schools and to our kids. 


Jessica Piper is a candidate for state representative in rural Northwest Missouri. She received her BA in English and her MA from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. She was a tenured American Literature teacher and frequently writes about rural schools and school funding. She lives on the Missouri/Iowa border with her husband, children, and two dogs. Piper is a farmer who raises hogs and chickens.

An organization of business leaders in St. Louis issued a demand for more “high quality schools” (by which they mean privately managed charter schools). But it’s not clear that charters are synonymous with “high quality schools.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which manages seven charter schools in the city, is likely to close one of them. The Arch Community Charter School opened in 2017 and has an enrollment of 95 students.

In fact, charter schools and competition has weakened the city’s struggling public schools.

Here is some useful information from the story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The potential closure comes as city leaders focus on the fluctuating public school landscape, including a sharp population decline among school-aged children, which dropped to 45,000 from 60,000 over the last decade.

On Thursday, the Education and Youth Matters Committee of the Board of Aldermen will discuss a resolution to support a moratorium on opening new schools and the development of a citywide plan for public education. The resolution would amount to a symbolic ban on charter schools, which are governed by state law.

But after looking at the Arch’s academic records, the school does not have the numbers and planning to meet students’ needs, Marino said.

In 2019, the most recent state data available, 3% of students at the Arch tested proficient or advanced in English and none in math.

UMSL’s decision about Arch follows the closure several months ago of Clay Elementary School, one-half mile away in the Hyde Park neighborhood. That was part of a St. Louis Public Schools downsizing. Enrollment below 200 students was among the criteria considered for closure, and Clay had dropped to 128 students last year.

The aldermanic resolution says: “The local, state, and federal support for school choice programs continues to create a system of schools and programs that fight over a declining population of children and a shrinking pool of resources, leading to duplicated services and system-wide inefficiencies.”

Charter schools enroll close to 12,000 students in the city, while St. Louis Public Schools enrollment dropped below 20,000 last year. The district has lost more than 50% of its enrollment since the first charters opened in 2000.

Open the article to see the graph, which demonstrates the folly of expanding the charter sector, which drains resources and students from a weakened public sector.

The average annual performance score for local charter schools, which includes factors such as attendance, academic achievement, and high school or college preparedness, was 80% in 2018, the most recent figures available. St. Louis Public Schools scored 79%, according to state data.

Of the 30-plus charter schools that have opened in St. Louis since 2000, about half have been shut down for academic or financial failure. Carondelet Leadership Academy was the latest to shutter in June 2020, displacing 400 students and 50 staff members.

One new charter school will open in 2022, sponsored by—wait for it—the Opportunity Trust.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen endorsed the moratorium on new schools and agreed on the need for a master plan for schools. However, the state legislature decides what happens in St. Louis to St. Louis schools. The Republican legislature does not believe in local control..

The board voted 24-1 for a nonbinding resolution that notes that charter schools and the city public school system have been fighting “over a declining population of children and a shrinking pool of resources.”

Supporters included Alderman Marlene Davis, a former city school board president, who said charter schools were forced upon the city by the Missouri Legislature.

Any new restrictions on the opening of additional charter facilities also would have to be imposed by state lawmakers.

“It’s a sin,” said Davis, of the 19th Ward. “We have gone through trauma after trauma” when some charter schools have suddenly closed.

She also complained about the performance of many of them, while acknowledging that there have been a few with adequate or superior records.

“Nobody can tell me that there’s appropriate oversight of these schools,” Davis said.

The resolution also won support from a critic of the city public schools, Alderman Carol Howard, 14th Ward.

“We need a master plan” for all types of schools, said Howard, a retired school principal in the city school system. “We need to all agree — Black, white, whatever — that our children are important.”

The voucher movement should be dead, in light of the numerous evaluations showing that voucher schools do not get better results than public schoools, and in many evaluations, voucher students lose ground compared to their peers in public schools.

The GOP is determined to siphon public dollars away from public schools and send them to religious schools.

Missouri Governor Parson just signed a voucher bill that will allow students to attend low-cost private and religious school while reducing the state’s revenues and reducing funding for public schools.

This is choice for the sake of choice, not for the benefit of students. This is the Betsy DeVos model.

The Associated Press reports:

Missouri students as soon as next year could have access to scholarships for private school through a new tax credit program signed Wednesday by Gov. Mike Parson.

Under the voucher-style program, private donors would give money to nonprofits that in turn would dole out the scholarships. The money could be used for private school tuition, transportation to school, extra tutoring and other education-related expenses.

Donors to the program would get state tax credits equal to the amount they give, an indirect way to divert state tax dollars to private education.

Parson’s signature represents a long-sought victory for primarily GOP advocates of so-called school choice legislation, which has struggled to gain traction with Missouri Republicans in rural areas where public schools likely would be students’ only option regardless of changes in state law.

“This legislation will empower students and parents with access to resources and educational opportunities that best meet the individual needs of their child,” Sen. Andrew Koenig, a suburban St. Louis Republican, said in a statement.

Critics of school voucher programs have said they funnel money away from public schools by drawing students out of those districts, leading to a drop in attendance and a subsequent drop in funding.

“Missouri is 49th in the country in average starting teachers’ salaries,” Melissa Randol, who heads the Missouri School Boards’ Association, said in a statement. “We need to invest in Missouri’s high quality teachers, rather than funnel money to institutions that have no accountability to taxpayers for how they spend taxpayers’ dollars or how they educate our children.”

Only K-12 students in the state’s largest cities — those with at least 30,000 residents — would be able to get the scholarships. That includes St. Louis, Kansas City and many of their suburbs. It also covers Springfield, Columbia, Cape Girardeau, Jefferson City, Joplin and St. Joseph.

https://www.newstribune.com/news/news/story/2021/jul/15/missouri-governor-signs-school-voucher-bill-into-law/879201/

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch excoriated retiring Senator Roy Blunt as a symbol of a cowering GQP establishment that failed to stand up to Trump. McDermott wonders why newcomer Josh Hawley has a national profile (as a Trump lackey), but the senior senator from Missouri is virtually unknown outside the state.

Unfortunately, Blunt also has personified what establishment Republicans became during the Trump era: passive enablers to a chronically mendacious, constitutionally malicious, mentally unfit president.

And now Blunt is, once again, personifying the GOP establishment, this time by exiting the extremist bunker that his party has become — a trend that intensified under Trump, as Blunt and others at the grownups’ table stared down at their plates in mute terror...

Blunt, just by virtue of his position in the Senate Republican hierarchy, could have forced a historic shift in the narrative of the Trump era had he done what he could have — shouldhave — done at any point during Trump’s tenure. Blunt could have walked up to any microphone in sight after some Trumpian outrage or other (the available choices were constant) and said what he knows is true: “This isn’t who we are. As a party, or as a country. Acceptance of this ignorant, corrosive sociopath of a president isn’t a valid trade for tax cuts and judges. It’s a selling of the soul, and I won’t do it anymore.

Yes, he would have lost his Senate Republican leadership role and probably his seat — the same seat he is now leaving willingly anyway. Meanwhile, it would have forced a badly needed self-examination by the GOP. Most importantly, Blunt might have provided a little cover for lower-ranking Republicans of conscience to follow suit.

Instead, Blunt mostly held his tongue for four years, voting twice to acquit Trump for his clearly impeachable offenses of trying to extort election aid from Ukraine and for inciting violent insurrection in an attempt to overturn the 2020 vote.

In essence, Blunt consistently backed a president who represented the most dire threat to constitutional democracy that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. The fact that Blunt did this quietly, without the toxic enthusiasm of Hawley and his ilk, is irrelevant. What’s the point of having a grownups’ table if its occupants let the children overrun the place?

Republicans hold a supermajority in the Missouri legislature. They can pass whatever they want. The House just passed the first voucher law in the state’s history. Thirty Republicans voted against it. The program will cost the state $50 million for starters. The measure now goes to the State Senate. Do they know that most voucher studies show that kids are harmed by switching from public schools to religious schools? Do they care?

Proponents of a measure allowing students in the St. Louis area to draw scholarship funds in order to attend the school of their choice won a narrow victory in the Missouri House on Thursday, sending the proposal to the Senate for debate.

The measure survived on an 82-71 vote, winning the minimum number of “yes” votes necessary to advance to the upper chamber. Thirty Republicans voted against the measure.

Republicans are also considering a proposal to establish Rush Limbaugh Day to honor a native Missourians. The measure was sponsored by a legislator known for his contempt for gays.

If you live in Missouri, get active to stop this dangerous effort to destroy your public schools!

Dear Friend,

If you love your public schools you need to drop what you are doing and get to work.

There is only one intent of Senate Bill 55–to destroy public education in Missouri. It was pushed through the Senate Education Committee early this morning and may go to the Senate floor for a vote as early as next week. 

1. Call your state senators NOW and ask them to support public schools by OPPOSING Senate Bill 55. You can find your Senator and their phone number by going here

2. Click here and send an email in opposition to Senate Bill 55 NOW.

3. Share this link with friends and family who live in the statehttps://actionnetwork.org/letters/oppose-senate-bill-55/

Below is the notice we just received from the Missouri School Boards Association information that provides background on the bill.

“The Senate Education Committee jammed through a mega bill on Thursday that will be heard on the Senate floor soon. Senate Bills 23 and 25 started out creating voucher schemes and expanding charter schools but were loaded up on SB 55 at the last minute with a long list of provisions hostile to public education that have never even had a public hearing. The bill now includes:

  • School Board Member Recall: Requires an election to recall a school board member if a petition is submitted signed by at least 25% of the number of voters in the last school board election.
  • Education Scholarship Account/Vouchers:Creates up to $100 million in tax credits for donations to an organization that gives out scholarships for students to attend a home school or private school – including for-profit virtual schools.
  • Charter School Expansion: Authorizes charter schools to be opened in an additional 61 school districts located in Jackson, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties or in cities of 30,000 or more and allows charters opened in provisionally and unaccredited districts to remain open even after the school district regains accreditation.
  • Turning MOCAP into Virtual Charter Schools: Allows students enrolling in MOCAP full time to apply directly to the vendor and cuts the resident school district and professional educators out of the process.
  • Home school students allowed to participate in MSHSAA activities. Districts are prohibited from belonging to MSHSAA unless home schooled students are allowed to participate in district athletics and activities governed by MSHSAA.
  • Limiting State Board of Education: Restricts members of the state board of education to serve only one full term.”

Read more on these issues here.

Please send your email, make your calls and thank you for all you do. 

Carol Burris

Executive Director

Network for Public Education

Katherine Stewart is the nation’s leading chronicler of Christian nationalism and the religious right. Her latest book, The Power Worshippers, is a must-read; I reviewed it in The New York Review of Books. This article appeared in The New York Times. It is an alarming and well-documented analysis of the religious zealotry and intolerance that propels Trumpism. Josh Hawley is competing with the loathsome Ted Cruz to be the next Trump.

In today’s Republican Party, the path to power is to build up a lie in order to overturn democracy. At least that is what Senator Josh Hawley was telling us when he offered a clenched-fist salute to the pro-Trump mob before it ransacked the Capitol, and it is the same message he delivered on the floor of the Senate in the aftermath of the attack, when he doubled down on the lies about electoral fraud that incited the insurrection in the first place. How did we get to the point where one of the bright young stars of the Republican Party appears to be at war with both truth and democracy?

Mr. Hawley himself, as it happens, has been making the answer plain for some time. It’s just a matter of listening to what he has been saying.

In multiple speeches, an interview and a widely shared article for Christianity Today, Mr. Hawley has explained that the blame for society’s ills traces all the way back to Pelagius — a British-born monk who lived 17 centuries ago. In a 2019 commencement address at The King’s College, a small conservative Christian college devoted to “a biblical worldview,” Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and that grace comes to those who do good things, as opposed to those who believe the right doctrines.

The most eloquent summary of the Pelagian vision, Mr. Hawley went on to say, can be found in the Supreme Court’s 1992 opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Mr. Hawley specifically cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words reprovingly: “At the heart of liberty,” Kennedy wrote, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The fifth century church fathers were right to condemn this terrifying variety of heresy, Mr. Hawley argued: “Replacing it and repairing the harm it has caused is one of the challenges of our day.”

In other words, Mr. Hawley’s idea of freedom is the freedom to conform to what he and his preferred religious authorities know to be right. Mr. Hawley is not shy about making the point explicit. In a 2017 speech to the American Renewal Project, he declared — paraphrasing the Dutch Reformed theologian and onetime prime minister Abraham Kuyper — “There is not one square inch of all creation over which Jesus Christ is not Lord.” Mr. Kuyper is perhaps best known for his claim that Christianity has sole legitimate authority over all aspects of human life.

“We are called to take that message into every sphere of life that we touch, including the political realm,” Mr. Hawley said. “That is our charge. To take the Lordship of Christ, that message, into the public realm, and to seek the obedience of the nations. Of our nation!”

Mr. Hawley has built his political career among people who believe that Shariah is just around the corner even as they attempt to secure privileges for their preferred religious groups to discriminate against those of whom they disapprove. Before he won election as a senator, he worked for Becket, a legal advocacy group that often coordinates with the right-wing legal juggernaut the Alliance Defending Freedom. He is a familiar presenceon the Christian right media circuit.

The American Renewal Project, which hosted the event where Mr. Hawley delivered the speech I mentioned earlier, was founded by David Lane, a political organizer who has long worked behind the scenes to connect conservative pastors and Christian nationalist figures with politicians. The choice America faces, according to Mr. Lane, is “to be faithful to Jesus or to pagan secularism.”

The line of thought here is starkly binary and nihilistic. It says that human existence in an inevitably pluralistic, modern society committed to equality is inherently worthless. It comes with the idea that a right-minded elite of religiously pure individuals should aim to capture the levers of government, then use that power to rescue society from eternal darkness and reshape it in accord with a divinely-approved view of righteousness.

At the heart of Mr. Hawley’s condemnation of our terrifyingly Pelagian world lies a dark conclusion about the achievements of modern, liberal, pluralistic societies. When he was still attorney general, William Barr articulated this conclusion in a speech at the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he blamed “the growing ascendancy of secularism” for amplifying “virtually every measure of social pathology,” and maintained that “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people.”

Christian nationalists’ acceptance of President Trump’s spectacular turpitude these past four years was a good measure of just how dire they think our situation is. Even a corrupt sociopath was better, in their eyes, than the horrifying freedom that religious moderates and liberals, along with the many Americans who don’t happen to be religious, offer the world.

That this neo-medieval vision is incompatible with constitutional democracy is clear. But in case you’re in doubt, consider where some of the most militant and coordinated support for Mr. Trump’s postelection assault on the American constitutional system has come from. The Conservative Action Project, a group associated with the Council for National Policy, which serves as a networking organization for America’s religious and economic right-wing elite, made its position clear in a statement issued a week before the insurrection.

It called for members of the Senate to “contest the electoral votes” from Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states that were the focus of Republicans’ baseless allegations. Among the signatories was Cleta Mitchell, the lawyer who advised Mr. Trump and participated in the president’s call on Jan. 2 with Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state. Cosignatories to this disinformation exercise included Bob McEwen, the executive director of the Council for National Policy; Morton C. Blackwell of The Leadership Institute; Alfred S. Regnery, the former publisher; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Thomas Fitton of Judicial Watch; and more than a dozen others.

Although many of the foot soldiers in the assault on the Capitol appear to have been white males aligned with white supremacist movements, it would be a mistake to overlook the powerful role of the rhetoric of religious nationalism in their ranks. At a rally in Washington on Jan. 5, on the eve of Electoral College certification, the right-wing pastor Greg Locke said that God is raising up “an army of patriots.” Another pastor, Brian Gibson, put it this way: “The church of the Lord Jesus Christ started America,” and added, “We’re going to take our nation back!”

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, a number of Christian nationalist leaders issued statements condemning violence — on bothsides. How very kind of them. But few if any appear willing to acknowledge the instrumental role they played in perpetuating the fraudulent allegations of a stolen election that were at the root of the insurrection.

They seem, like Mr. Hawley himself, to live in a post-truth environment. And this gets to the core of the Hawley enigma. The brash young senator styles himself not just a deep thinker who ruminates about late-Roman era heretics, but a man of the people, a champion of “the great American middle,” as he wrote in an article for The American Conservative, and a foe of the “ruling elite.” Mr. Hawley has even managed to turn a few progressive heads with his economic populism, including his attackson tech monopolies.

Yet Mr. Hawley isn’t against elites per se. He is all for an elite, provided that it is a religiously righteous elite. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School and he clerked for John Roberts, the chief justice. Mr. Hawley, in other words, is a successful meritocrat of the Federalist Society variety. His greatest rival in that department is the Princeton debater Ted Cruz. They are résumé jockeys in a system that rewards those who do the best job of mobilizing fear and irrationalism. They are what happens when callow ambition meets the grotesque inequalities and injustices of our age.

Over the past few days, following his participation in the failed efforts to overturn the election, Mr. Hawley’s career prospects may have dimmed. Two of his home state newspapers have called for his resignation; his political mentor, John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, has described his earlier support for Mr. Hawley as “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made”; and Simon & Schuster dropped his book. On the other hand, there is some reporting that suggests his complicity in efforts to overturn the election may have boosted his standing with Mr. Trump’s base. But the question that matters is not whether Mr. Hawley stays or goes, but whether he is simply replaced by the next wannabe demagogue in line. We are about to find out whether there are leaders of principle left in today’s Republican Party.

Make no mistake: Mr. Hawley is a symptom, not a cause. He is a product of the same underlying forces that brought us President Trump and the present crisis of American democracy. Unless we find a way to address these forces and the fundamental pathologies that drive them, then next month or next year we will be forced to contend with a new and perhaps more successful version of Mr. Hawley.