Secular Education and the Uprooting of Eduction – Part Two

How did we get here?

Waning Influence

The Christian faith has for many years seen a steadily decreasing influence in American. In an article entitled, “Atheism Doubles Among Generation Z,” we read: “The influence of Christianity in the United States is waning. Rates of church attendance, religious affiliation, belief in God, prayer and Bible-reading have been dropping for decades. Americans’ beliefs are becoming more post-Christian and, concurrently, religious identity is changing. Enter Generation Z: Born between 1999 and 2015, they are the first truly “post-Christian” generation.”1 For the present cohort of youth, the reporter notes: “’atheist’ is no longer a dirty word:” Indeed, the percentage of teens who are atheists is double that of other Americans.

These statistics are staggering but not surprising. The church seems numb to the hemorrhaging of our youth – a numbness not due to indifference but, like a frog in water, unaware of how quickly the temperature of the environment is changing. Moreover, our culture embraces a patently anti-Biblical worldview at an ever-escalating pace. Politicians celebrate America’s post-Christian state as a strength. Christians are being inundated at every side, and even within the church, by the shameless mocking of Biblical principles. The symptoms of a diseased culture are all around us, and the manifestations are seen most clearly in the younger generations.  People ask, “How did it all go so bad so quickly?” How did the faith go from being respected to being actively opposed?

Cultural Mocking

There has always been an opposition to Christianity present in the USA, but that opposition has usually been a minority voice and largely muted. No more. The anti-Biblical worldview of modern secular culture is reflected in the song Hymn by Grammy-award-winning pop star Kesha, which proudly proclaims: “This is a hymn for the hymnless, kids with no religion, Yeah we keep on sinning, yeah we keep on singing, don’t need no forgiveness, ‘cause if there is a heaven, don’t care if we get in.”

Kesha’s friend Taylor Swift mocks traditional marriage advocates in her video, “You Need To Calm Down”, portraying Christians as uneducated, hate-filled lunatics. In Vogue magazine, Taylor says, “Rights are being stripped from basically everyone who isn’t a straight white cisgender male.”2  This statement seems to go in opposition to observable facts. On the contrary – we have seen a great expansion of homosexual and transgender rights. Perhaps objective reality is secondary to woke soundbites.

Many have said in principle that a culture is decaying beyond hope when the creative arts are obsessed with the perversions of sensationalistic sex. We only need to look to the world’s largest streaming service, Netflix, which seems to glorify pedophilia in the film, “Cuties” that at the same time purports to warn against pedophilia. The movie is described as “Maïmouna Doucouré’s sweet-spirited French coming-of-age drama” while showing close ups of pre-adolescent children dancing in an intentionally titillating manner. Those who decried such sexual exploitation of young children were described as “the pedophile-obsessed American right” by NBC’s contributing writer Sam Theilman 3. To question debauchery now is to invite scorn and ridicule.

Feelings to Replace Right and Wrong

The keynote of our era is emotive reasoning, with facts secondary to feelings. Discussion is crushed as entire swaths of society are labelled “racists” simply due to the “privileged” color of their skin and accused of a vaguely defined and unfalsifiable “systemic racism.” Cities are burnt and businesses looted in what the Media describes as “peaceful protests.” In one particularly flagrant example the self-delusion of our mainstream media borders on the surreal. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, CNN national correspondent, Omar Jimenez, broadcasts with a gas mask on his neck and goggles on his forehead, standing in front of cars that have been torched as flames soar high into the air. The caption displayed on the screen reads, “Fiery but Mostly Peaceful Protest.” 4 Such Orwellian “spin” on patently obvious facts disturbingly typifies the “mainstream narrative.”

Legal Maneuvering

Legislation increasingly reflects the same hostility to a Christian worldview – with the laser focus on children. What was once called “abuse” is now called “loving” and what was once “loving” is now called “abuse.” Parents with children struggling with gender dysphoria who send those children to loving pastors or professional counsellors are now called abusive, and laws banning this type of counsel have been passed in 20 states. Legislators in Canada have been particularly vocal in this realm, and the Canadian legislature has passed broad, sweeping laws that serve as beacons to the direction in which the movement is headed.

The intent of Bill 89 Ontario, Canada, Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017, was described by Michael Coteau, the Minister of Child and Family Services, who introduced it: “I would consider that a form of abuse, when a child identifies one way and a caregiver is saying ‘No, you need to do this differently.’ If it’s abuse, and if it’s within the definition, a child can be removed from that environment and placed into protection where the abuse stops.” 5

This bill was passed by an overwhelming margin of 63-23 and applies to foster children. It was mirrored in a similar law in Illinois, which states: “In no instance should LGBTQ children/youth be placed with a non-affirming caregiver who is opposed to sexual orientations that differ from the caregiver’s own.” 6

Both laws apply to the foster care system and have not jumped over to break up biological families until recently.  In Hamilton County, Ohio, parents lost custody of their minor child for wanting to delay hormonal treatment until the child was 18 years old. In a state where a child cannot receive a dental filling without parental consent, now the state becomes the parent for what is often irreversible treatment.

Municipalities threaten pastors for what they teach from the pulpit as they flex political muscles to threaten those who oppose their agenda. They often understand the influence of the Church better than Christians do. The city of Houston, TX issued subpoenas demanding that pastors turn over sermons dealing with homosexuality or gender identity. Pastors who failed to comply were told that they would be held in contempt of court. Thankfully, in this case the pastors refused to comply.

Many Christians reading the headlines don’t know what to do, and they retreat into depression, anger, isolation, and fear. But if such horrors are recognized as symptoms of a diseased culture, understanding the causes of the spiritual diseases we suffer from may lead to proper treatment. As Christians we see the visible ideological opponents. At the same time, we must recognize that we have an enemy that is “seeking to devour.” If we can understand the root causes of societal disease, we can soberly seek solutions to the seemingly overwhelming threats of our day.

Secular Educators: Pied Pipers of Corruption

Sin is ever present in every human, corrupt and corruptible. And Satan is ever active, as he has always done and always will be on this earth. But the third in the well-known triad of the world, the flesh and the Devil is the wild card. The way that the world reflects sinful corruption is very much a societal phenomenon. This is clear from the way one country differs from another in our world. But it is also clear from changes in cultures over time. And, if one wanted to change a culture, with the long-term in view, what better way than to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation? And when they are largely a captive audience, your task is greatly simplified.

The Secularization of Public Schools – Not by Accident

The public-school system has been systematically abolishing God from the schools. This activity accelerated starting in the early 1960’s. But secular education was always designed with this end in view.

Horace Mann, the first father of the American public educational system, was born in 1796. Today more than 50 schools in America carry his name.  In his “Six Principles to a Good Education” Mann affirmed that “the education that is taught must be nonsectarian,” and that “the public should … control, and maintain education.” 7  He would go on to make a clear statement about his goal: “What the Church has been for medieval man, the public school must become for democratic and rational man. God would be replaced by the concept of the public good.” 8

John Dewey, considered the father of modern progressive education and a signer of the Humanist Manifesto I, agreed: “There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural laws or moral absolutes.” 9

In 1973, Humanist Manifesto II updated the ideals of the original. In his contribution to this second document John Dunphy emphasized the role that education should take in spreading Humanist ideals: “The battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public-school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being.” 10 Dunphy wrote of “…utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values” in every subject, “regardless of the educational level — preschool, day care, or large state university.” 11

The National Education Association (NEA) is one of the largest labor unions in the United States. The power and influence of the NEA cannot be understated. The website states that it “is more than 3 million people” who use “the power of public education to transform lives.” They see themselves as disciple-makers and transformational change agents. Leaders within the NEA recognize that their values are often at odds with those of parents. NEA specialist Paul Haubner explained the need to change the student’s parent-centered value system: “The schools cannot allow parents to influence the kind of values education their children receive in school; that is what is wrong with those who say there is a universal system of values. Our goals are incompatible with theirs. We must change their values.” 12

Baptist theologian Albert Mohler described the agenda of this new wave of humanist educators: “Aided and abetted by strategic court decisions, the schools became transformative instruments for the secularization of the American worldview. Dewey’s atheism was not a minor factor in this development, as he and like-minded theorists saw the public schools as a means of liberating children from the religious convictions of their parents. Parental authority was undermined by the fact that the schools took on functions that had previously been left to parents only. Gradually, school officials began to speak of parents as ‘partners’ in the educational process. Many schools now treat parents as extensions of the school’s own mission and purpose—a great reversal from the time when schools saw themselves as extensions of the parents’ authority.” 13

Most people understand that the philosophy of the school room in one generation becomes the philosophy of government in the next. This is why the Homeschool Movement, private Christian education and school choice initiatives are all under pressure from secular education leaders and legislatures. In the National Education Association Policy Statements 2021-2022, the NEA makes their position clear on “School Choice” programs. “NEA reaffirms its strong and historical commitments to (1) promoting the cause of public education, (2) preserving the principle of separation of church and state … Consistent with these commitments, NEA is opposed to any privatization or subcontracting program that: … Allows public funds to be used for religious education or other religious purposes, or otherwise weakens the wall of separation between church and state.” 14 Many Christian educators who are NEA members may not even be aware of the clarity of the NEA’s stated goals.

Higher Education: Seminaries for Humanism

The Apostle Paul planned for the Gospel to grow from one generation to the next: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) In this verse one finds a progression through generations of disciples: from Paul to Timothy to “faithful men,’ and then to those taught by the faithful men. By this fruitful multiplication process comes exponential growth. Sociologist Rodney Stark argues that exponential growth, from generation to generation, was responsible for turning Rome Christian in three centuries. A seed, planted in the ground, grew into a tree.

But what we observe from the birth of Christianity we are now seeing in an anti-Biblical worldview – exponential multigenerational discipleship extending from academia. Higher education has become the “church” that proclaims and spreads the “gospel” of humanism.

In 1865 William Ross Wallace published a poem entitled “What rules the World?”, which celebrated the “divine mission” of mothers. From this poem came the common proverb “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Is the Hand That Rules the World.” But the role of mothers (and fathers, who, research has shown, deeply influence how children turn out) has been diminished. Abdication of the responsibility of education has been left to the “faithful men and women” who have been discipled by the apostles of humanism that fill tenure at our institutions of higher education. These new hands, shaped by secular universities, are shaping the future leaders and influencers.

Education must be based on some worldview, which teaches carefully selected notions of origin, meaning, morality and destiny. And Secular Humanists tell their stories divorced from the Author of Life, with warped senses of meaning and dead-end destinations.   

The Abandonment of Veritas in Universities

The New York Times headline reads, “The New Chief Chaplain at Harvard? An Atheist.”  Greg Epstein, president of the Harvard Chaplains, is described as the “godfather of the [humanist] movement.”  He authored the bestselling book, “Good Without God.”  In it he states, “This is not a book about whether one can be good without God, because that question does not need to be answered –it needs to be rejected outright.” 15 In an interview with Krista Tippet he explains, “I see this in the humanist and atheist and agnostic community, working just as hard as anyone else to build a world that is as good as it can be for ourselves and for our loved ones and for all of humanity, and for the sake of the natural world, too, that surrounds us and sustains us.”16  In essence he believes, “In man we trust, not in God we trust.”

Harvard was named after Rev. John Harvard. Its 1692 motto is: “Veritas, christo et ecclesiae,” Truth, for Christ and the Church. Harvard’s 1646 Rules and Precepts include the following points (edited for modern spelling):17

2. Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, Let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Proverbs 2:3).

3. Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoretical observations of Language and Logic, and in practical spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalms 119:130).

How did Harvard go from “Christ … the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning, to “in man we trust?”  Is truth’s foundation experience, feelings, common sense or revealed truth? And was this radical change inevitable?

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