What is "PLANS Inc."?
A summary
In recent decades, fundamentalism has become increasingly common in different parts of the world in a way that crosses religious and philosophical boundaries and national borders.

All three of the main religions of the world, Christianity, Judaism and Islam are experiencing an increase in fundamentalist groups. But the same sort of dogmatism can be found in secular humanist and atheist circles, and is a potential danger facing all world views and philosophies, including anthroposophy.

People who adopt inflexible positions become defensive or hostile when faced with conflicting worldviews. We are entering a world increasingly filled with groups of people who on more or less well founded grounds feel as though their most basic beliefs are under attack, and take more or less extreme action to defend and assert it.

This theme was clearly articulated in a 1993 essay by Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, in Foreign Affairs. This seminal article by a Harvard scholar identified seven main world cultures and predicted that in the future, relative homogeneity would continue to exist within the areas dominated by these cultures, but that conflicts would develop along the borders where they meet.

According to Huntington, such conflicts based on cultural differences will replace the conflicts between nations and political ideologies the last centuries.


PLANS, Inc., an odd group whose only purpose seems to be attacking Waldorf education and anthroposophy, tries to present itself as a organization which includes and welcomes both secular and religious views.

However, the main force behind its ten-year old anti-Waldorf and anti-anthroposophy campaign, carried on through the Internet and other media, is Dan Dugan, PLANS secretary and treasurer.

Mr. Dugan has spent many years campaigning in San Francisco to promote an atheist and secular humanist worldview, starting with a failed internal rebellion in a local "skeptic" organization at the end of the 1980's. His goal at that time was to transform it into a crusading organization, preaching atheism and secular humanism at the grassroots level in Bay Area colleges. 

A couple of years later he turned up in a different campaign, attacking audiophiles with McCarthyist smears (see Stereophile magazine for the full story).

In 1995, he started a personal mailing list against Waldorf education. On the main page of the listserv he runs, Mr. Dugan describes it with:

"Sharing of Waldorf horror stories. Anthroposophists "defending the faith" against PLANS philosophy warriors".
On his mailing list, he attracts and supports smear, defamation and untrue demonization of everything even remotely related to Waldorf and Waldorf-methods education, and then at first republished all of this nastiness as archives at a section on his personal site. Later, the section has been transformed into the PLANS site.


In 1997, Mr. Dugan fired up his witch hunt against Waldorf education, using the newly formed PLANS to attack school districts applying Waldorf methods in public schools. According to the Sacramento Bee, PLANS charged that the schools not only practiced witchcraft, but also taught it to their students.

In the media (California Aggie, May 22, 1997), Mr. Dugan commented on the Waldorf School in Davis, CA: 

"They believe that there are spirits behind everything. I know there are people who would call that evil. (They) would consider anthroposophy a satanic religion."
When criticized even by a supporter for the way PLANS used allegations of witchcraft at Waldorf schools in its anti-Waldorf campaign, he defended this on his personal mailing (June 9):
"What I say 'in defense of the Waldorfians' is that 'they don't eat babies.' " 

"Am I pandering to the prejudices of Christians? Personally, yes I am!"

The false allegations of wicca that PLANS had encouraged were then used by a right wing law firm, naming the president of PLANS Debra Snell as client, to solicit $15,000 from an evangelical organization.

The money was used to finance the initiation of a litigation by PLANS against two public school districts, Sacramento City Unified School District and Twin Ridges Elementary School District, for "advancing religion" by using Waldorf teaching methods in two public schools.

The schools were using Waldorf teaching methods as part of developing an increasing methodological diversity in public education, and had been organized specifically so as not on any point to violate the U.S. Constitution regarding the separation of church and state. 

In the litigation, PLANS accused the two school districts of causing PLANS' (six) members "great and irreparable injury" with their support of the use of Waldorf teaching methods at the two public schools. 

In 1999, a federal court ruled that the two school districts have a secular, non-religious purpose for the operation of the two schools. But it let the case proceed, to find whether public Waldorf-methods programs might have the unintended consequence of directly and substantially "advancing religion" to such an extent that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

In 2001, the court dropped the case, following a review. In 2003, an appellate court overruled that decision. It returned the reactivated case to the lower federal court where it was filed. The court scheduled the case for an actual trial on September 12, 2005.

When it started, seven years after the litigation was filed, it turned out that PLANS was unable to produce a single witness or admissible piece of evidence to prove that anthroposophy is a religion in a traditional sense, and the case was concluded after only 30 minutes of proceedings.


Mr. Dugan has offered up reasons for his attacks in depositions for the trial against the two public school districts for operating, not independent Waldorf schools, but public Waldorf-methods schools.

Mr. Dugan:

I'm being taxed to support a religion. I am supposed to be protected from that.
Do you think that violates some of your rights?
Mr. Dugan:
It violates my future, my ability to live in a world that is free from this kind of thinking. [...] It's increasing something that I think is bad. This worldview. 
(Source: Deposition of Mr. Dugan, March 24, 1999, p. 118.)

He then tries to summarize the essence of what he means by saying that he feels that it violates his personal

"quality of life".
if students at public Waldorf-methods schools, where he has no children attending, learn through Waldorf methods instead of mainly by studying textbooks and using computers.

They learn by reciting, singing and listening to stories, by knitting, drawing, painting and sculpting, by participating in plays and rhythmic games, and by learning about the world and its cultures by engaging in them artistically, and about nature by carefully observing natural phenomena and thinking for themselves about what they observe. 

In the end, this is what Mr. Dugan considers his personal and legally protected right to a quality of life: to live in a world free from anything he considers to be religious.

His dream for the future is a world free of everything he considers to be even slightly religious elements.

This is the reason he has, as a professed atheist "philosophical warrior", spent ten years pursuing a public "philosophical war" against Waldorf and Waldorf-methods schools. He has fought this crusade on the Internet and in the media. This is why he has written a number of letters to academics and to school districts to share his concerns about the "dangers" of Waldorf and Waldorf-methods education. 

This is the reason he has spent seven years pursuing a legal battle in court against Waldorf-methods schools formed specifically not to violate the separation of church and state, a battle he has continued despite the fact that a federal court ruled in 1999 that the school districts have a secular, non-religious purpose for their operation. 

And finally, it is for this reason that he publishes the PLANS web site where he is not satisfied with trying to prove that anthroposophy is a religion, but adds to this the publication of smears and demonizations of independent Waldorf and Waldorf-methods schools as allegedly racist, un-American, anti-Semitic, anti-scientific, parochial, occult sect schools that indoctrinate students with anthroposophy instead of giving them a good basic education, as schools that are haunted by bullying, and even as a sort of "nazi training camps" (as one reader understands his site).


Left out of Dugan's rants are the realities of Waldorf education in the world. Large numbers of parents and children have connected with Waldorf schools and been thoroughly satisfied with what they found. For example: The parents of former Presidential candidate John Kerry and his sister Diana chose a Waldorf school for them when the family lived in Berlin in the 1950's. A Waldorf school was also the choice of the parents of African-American Kenneth Chenault, now COO of American Express

It was also the choice for the Auschwitz survivor and long-time Chairman of the Central Jewish Council in Germany, Heinz Galinski, for his daughter after the war. Later in life, this daughter, Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, commented : 

"I personally have had only good experiences during my school time; it was liberal, anti-racist, tolerant of every faith and not missionary" (Allgemeine Jüdische Wochenzeitung, March 2000)
A Waldorf school was also the choice of the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the parents of the labor Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former German Minister of Foreign Affairs and the present German Minister of the Interior Otto Schily also chose Waldorf education for their children. 

The long roster of distinguished parents and graduates somehow doesn't seem to match the picture of Waldorf schools painted by Mr. Dugan and his friends at the PLANS web site.

Research in Sweden on several hundred Swedish Waldorf students, who had spent the majority of their twelve school years in a Waldorf school, compared them with students in the corresponding grades in municipal (public) schools. Among other things the research showed that the majority of the pupils in both types of school repudiated Nazism and racism. 

However, the proportion of pupils who suggested anti-Nazi and anti-racist solutions, i.e., solutions that involved counteracting or stopping Nazism and racism was considerably greater among the Waldorf pupils than among pupils at municipal schools. This is in striking contrast to the various claims of racism and anti-Semitism connected with anthroposophy and Waldorf education published on the PLANS web site.

Another part of the study compared 9th grade pupils at nine Waldorf schools with 9th grade pupils at municipal schools, and corrected for the difference in the social background of the pupils in the two groups. According to the study, the Waldorf pupils felt to a lesser extent than the municipal students that they were bullied or unfairly treated. They also felt to a greater extent than the pupils at municipal schools, that teachers or other adults quickly intervened if a pupil was bullied.

The study also shows that the Waldorf pupils in Sweden go on to higher education to a greater extent than pupils in general at public schools, and that few of them consider it to have been a disadvantage to have gone to a Waldorf school.

And another study, an overview of all Waldorf high school students in North America (including Canada) during the last 10 years, shows that 77% of them have gone on directly to college after high school. Of the remaining 23%, 9% had either been accepted to a college and deferred admission for a year, announced plans to enroll in college after a year of work or travel, or were pursuing the Ontario Academic Credit (OAC).


Who are the victims in Dugan's "philosophical" crusade? Is anyone damaged by his dreams of a world free of religion?

Children are damaged who are pulled out of their independent Waldorf school or Waldorf-methods school because of the publication of untrue stories. Children are victims who never have the opportunity to attend an indepdendent Waldorf or Waldorf-methods school because of the publication of defamatory and demonizing myths by PLANS at its site. Parents are being methodically deceived about the nature of Waldorf education by Dugan as part of his "philosophical" crusade.

And there can be no doubt that children attending school in the two school districts targeted by the PLANS lawsuit have been injured by the enormous legal expenses involved in defending this case for over seven years.