I think this is going to be my last post on this matter...
This might sound funny coming from an Asperger, but I see Baruch as suffering from a lack of a theory of mind. (See Neurotypical Mental and Emotional Handicaps.)...At a physiological level Baruch simply does not get that there are other people out there who believe differently from him and are equally convinced of their beliefs as he is. Baruch thinks that it is so obvious that he is right that if he repeats his arguments or has the government step in and support him as being right, those other people will eventually come to their senses; that the Christians, Haredim and white supremacists will suddenly realize that they are superstitious intolerant bigots, apologize to Baruch for being such naughty children and go home.
Now, he just made this stuff up (funny, for somebody who compared my view of the world to that of haredi historical revisionists). I do understand (physiologically, even!) that there are people who believe differently than me and are equally convinced of their beliefs as I am. I don't think they will just come to their senses if the government supports me. I don't think "they'll apologize to Baruch for being such naughty children and go home." So that whole bit is a destabilizing lie meant to pull emotional strings. Benzion can be excused of trying to mislead you on the grounds that he may well be deluding himself.
Benzion sees separation of church and state as "not a legitimate legal concept, but a letter from Thomas Jefferson, wrongfully brought into play in the twentieth century." I don't know where he gets that from; it seems to me that any intellectually honest person making a claim about the separation of church and state would have looked into American history and found out that the precedent obviously goes back at least to Reynolds v. United States (1878). Benzion can disagree with the judgment in that case, but I don't think he should pretend that the court decision doesn't exist.
Benzion understands "the Constitution's establishment clause to apply to all ideas," which is odd because it specifically refers to religion (I would take the mention of the word "religion" directly as an indication that the founding fathers differed between religion and truths to be regarded as factual). But he thinks it applies to all ideas. According to Benzion, the government shouldn't be involved in doing anything except protecting a person's right to not be physically harmed. So the government-funded public schools can teach that Jesus is your savior, you can put your minor in a sweatshop or a brothel [!?!]...I think Benzion and I disagree on the role of government in protecting peoples' rights here.
Because I have been having a rough week, I neglected to mention that during our initial conversation, I asked some people from The Straight Dope for insights (I didn't mention it initially to Benzion because I was having an even rougher time during that conversation). I thought I'd here quote one of the commenters there, Der Trihs:
...First, the alternative to public schools is massive public ignorance; they were created in the first place because before the government stepped in most of the population had no formal education at all. Second, evolution and the falsehood of creation is a fact, not just an opinion. Third, children are not the toys of parents to exploit as they will, they have rights too; including the right not to be rendered hopelessly ignorant because their parents prefer lies over truth.
And fourth, his position is the authoritarian one; as libertarians typically do he is pretending that government action is the only possible source of oppression. Saying that the government should only take action to defend "people from direct physical harm caused by other people without their consent" is a demand that the primary function of government should be as a tool of oppression for the wealthy and powerful organizations. Because the rich and large organizations like corporations, political parties and religious organizations and so on don't need to use violence to get their way, to oppress and exploit the common people. The common people however need the government to protect them from just that. And if the government refuses to protect them, then all the common people have left is force - and then and only then is when the libertarians like your friend want the government to step in, on the side of the wealthy and powerful. Under the system your friend wants the only real function of the government is to serve as a giant boot to stomp on any of the lower classes who get uppity. not to help people, not to educate or defend them from being exploited; just to crush them when they get tired of being treated as slaves.