|Is Christian Education Abhorrent To Most Americans?
By Dr. Don Boys
©2000 Cornerstone Communications
The September 1999 issue of USA TODAY Magazine contained an article by Albert Menendez entitled "Dangers of Fundamentalist Schools" wherein he alleged that students are "absorbing visions of reality abhorrent to the vast majority of Americans." Of course, that is his opinion, not a fact. Various charges are leveled against Christian school publishers, specifically Bob Jones University Press and Pensacola College Press. It is alleged that Christian schools are hindering and hurting students by insulating them. Those publishers are accused of disregarding facts; glorifying war; mocking Darwin's "scientific" ideas; disdaining science; criticizing higher education; not respecting American Indians, blacks, and various religions; and generally producing mediocre and inaccurate textbooks.
Critics suggest that church schools are insulating students from modern life and culture, but the schools reply that they are insulating them from destructive influences. Those destructive influences are death, sex, drug education (where kids are not told that drugs are wrong and illegal); values clarification; self esteem (not self- respect, that must be earned); psychotherapeutic techniques; thought control; sensitivity training; outcome-based education, etc.--all designed to produce, in humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow's words, "a new image of man." Many conservatives don't like that "new image" for their children or any children.
Since children are the responsibility of parents, not the state, many parents have chosen to protect them from some public school teachers who are certified--but not qualified. There are hundreds of examples. Former California Superintendent of Schools Bill Honig admitted that 31 percent of new teachers in California failed that state's Basic Education Skills Test--one that the president of the California Teachers Association indicted "any competent high school student should be able to pass."
The head of the California State Parent Teacher Association wrote a letter to a pro- voucher group in which she made 17 errors. She even called the public schools, "pubic" schools!
Why pick only on California teachers? The Council for Basic Education reported that, when prospective school teachers in Pinellas County, Fla., were tested for teaching jobs, two-thirds of them failed. Students at a private North Dallas (Tex.) high school took the test and did better than the public school teachers and administrators. Maybe they should have fired the teachers and hired the kids.
It is interesting that this attack on Christian education appeared during the same month when the U.S. Department of Education released a $14,000,000 study entitled "Adult Literacy in America." Among the findings, it was revealed that half of America's 191,000,000 adults cannot hold meaningful employment because of various degrees of illiteracy. The report indicated that 90,000,000 adult Americans cannot write a letter to complain about a billing error or fill out a bank deposit slip. About 20% of those who did the worst had high school diplomas.
Public school advocates seem to think that throwing more money at the problem is the answer, but that only exacerbates it. That is the answer liberals have for most situations, and it never works. Elementary/secondary education costs $300,000,000,000 per year, employing more than 5,000,000 people. Yet, with all that money and personnel, American kids are being handed diplomas they can't read.
Maybe critics are referring to parents who insulate their children in Christian schools so their values will not be altered to fit more comfortably in the New World Order that is coming. Most concerned parents teach their offspring to speak clearly, thoughtfully, and precisely without resorting to street vulgarities. Nevertheless, one public school textbook tells students that "Experimenting with swearing is often a stage in maturing for both boys and girls." That kind of lesson undermines what parents are trying to instill in their children, and no one says they don't have that right.
What about the textbook telling students that "sexual diseases are easily treated?" Surely, the authors are not referring to herpes and AIDS!
Another tells high schoolers: "Contrary to past belief, masturbation is completely harmless and in fact can be useful in training oneself to respond sexually." No wonder so many parents--including public school teachers-- have fled the public schools. Public school teachers are the largest professional group with their children in Christian schools. What does it say for public education when so many teachers have no confidence in it?
It gets worse. A text tells youngsters: "A person with variant sexual interests is not necessarily bad, sick, or mentally ill." Does the author mean that any kind of sex is acceptable--even with the dead, with animals, autoeroticism, and the activities of homosexual men and lesbian women?
Christian and conservative parents are trying to insulate their sons and daughters from the filth that passes as education in most public schools. They are protecting them from dangerous, damaging, and destructive misinformation that emanates from those institutions.
Bob Jones University Press and Pensacola College Press are the oldest and most prestigious fundamentalist publishing houses and usually get the brunt of criticism from public school advocates. Critics charge that, in the Bob Jones and Pensacola texts, "Students are urged to disregard facts and conclusions widely held in the scientific community." Well, there is a world of difference between facts and conclusions. Christian educators don't want students to disregard facts. only the inaccurate interpretation of them. There is a difference.
Criticism is made of a Christian school text that reminds students: "War is not a desirable event, but in this world it is often necessary." What's wrong with that statement? Of course, some wars are necessary. If World War II had not been fought, Christian school critics would be writing in German or Japanese. Remember Isidore of Seville's comment: "That war is lawful and just which is waged upon command in order to recover property or to repel attack."
The accusation is made that pupils in Christian schools are told that Darwin's "discoveries are called pseudo-scientific ideas," but can anyone provide one fact that Darwin discovered to support "his" theory--one that he stole from his grandfather (without giving credit), Aristotle, and numerous ancient Greeks and Phoenicians?
Most people probably don't know that Darwin's formal education was not in any area of science (because he couldn't make the grade in medicine), but in theology. The world has taken the writings of an apostate preacher to be gospel. Some of the most respected scientists have rejected Darwinism, but information has not been passed on to most high school science teachers.
Church schools also allegedly produce students who have a "disdain for science," and who are "warned against pursuing the life of the mind." However, they counter that students should have a disdain for what they maintain is false science such as vestigial organs, recapitulation, Piltdown Man, Java Man, ad infinitum.
It is true that informed Christians have a disdain for medical "science" that removed the tonsils, adenoids, and appendixes from hundreds of thousands of children (since they were thought to be vestigial organs) when it is now known that they are important to the immune system. What about the 30% of non-elective surgeries in the U.S. and the 500,000 unnecessary Caesarean sections that unnecessarily are performed annually? Or, how about frontal lobotomies that change people into zombies? Is that the kind of "science" Christians disdain?
Christian educators are castigated for teaching students that secular colleges and universities are centers of apostasy, and that they are "....the first social institutions to experience religious decline." Anyone with a smattering knowledge of history knows that to be true. Harvard University (founded by Bible-believing Christians) is the first and best example. It was built soon after the colonists got settled, and deists began to worm their way into the institution until they had control. They still run it today.
Christian texts are accused of disparaging the "achievements of African-Americans and native Americans." Maybe critics of Christian schools would be pleased if Christian students were required to write an essay on "Why I Feel Guilty Being White," as some eighth-graders were recently. However, Christian educators won't do that since they don't believe in "collective guilt."
Maybe public school advocates would be pleased if the church schools would ape their public counterparts and teach Afrocentrism. They could teach, as some schools do, that the first humans were black, as were the first Europeans, the original Jews, Greeks, and Italians. Beethoven was black, as was Alexander Hamilton, Robert Browning, Saint Jerome, Cleopatra, etc. They could teach that the philosophical foundations of Western Civilization were taken from black Africans, and further hatred and bigotry could be fostered by teaching from The Destruction of Black Civilization that "The white man is their [blacks] Bitter Enemy." Such nonsense is an insult to honest and principled blacks everywhere.
Critics of Christian school texts are not happy because they maintain these books are "far from friendly" toward Martin Luther King, Jr. Well, King was not "friendly" toward Bible Christians. He did not believe in the virgin birth nor the physical resurrection of Christ. He plagiarized his Ph.D. thesis at Boston University, had sex with numerous women (as he admitted to Parade Magazine), and accused America of being the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today...."
While American soldiers were dying in the rice paddies of Asia, King told an audience of Riverside Church that Americans had poisoned the water supply of the South Vietnamese (without proof) and had tested new weapons on helpless South Vietnamese. He then accused America of probably killing 1,000,000 children (again, no proof) and praised Ho Chi Minh as the only true leader of the Vietnamese people. All that was too much even for the liberal Washington Post which called his hand on his incredible charges.
Opponents don't like the treatment of the civil rights movement of the 1960s by school texts published by Bob Jones and Pensacola. Maybe they would prefer that Christian educators teach kids to follow the crowds, lemming-like, over the cliffs. There were some good results that came out of the civil rights movement. Blacks should not have been forced to ride in the back of a public bus or drink from a "colored" fountain, but when Congress was stampeded into forcing private businessmen to give up their right to choose their customers, the nation started down a very slippery slope.
Americans are told that it is not "Christian" to refuse to serve a customer whom you don't like. A person has a right to be stupid, a bad businessman, poor Christian, or bigot (as long as he does not physically harm the object of his bigotry). The problem with the 1964 Civil Rights Act was that it went too far, and now white people are being discriminated against! Principled individuals believe that all people should be treated like people, not as Blacks, Jews, women, etc. It is incredible that anyone would argue with that position.
Another criticism of the Christian school texts concerns the treatment of American Indians. Nevertheless they were not the "noble red men" so often seen in today's TV and movies. Some kept slaves (and ate them during hard times), poisoned streams, practiced fornication, and killed without conscience. In Mexico, human sacrifice was common. Public school texts never deal with those facts because they want to change students' attitudes to fit the New World Order.
The Christian school text is correct when it states: "The Indian culture typified heathen civilization--lost in darkness without the light of the gospel." While some tribes were somewhat humane, they did not produce an enlightened, productive, and lasting civilization. The fact is that some Indians were good, some were bad--like all people-- but it does truth a disservice to insist that Indians in general were Noble Savages.
It is a fact that the Indians had all the natural resources such as water, trees, iron, gold, silver, etc. yet did not produce much except a society where private property was almost unknown, adultery was common, and children died by the thousands. When the white man came, with all his admitted sins, he dug the ore out of the ground; cleared the forests; defended himself and his family; built cities, roads, hospitals , schools, and churches; and a standard of living that is the envy of the world to this day. Why didn't the Indians do that or something similar during the hundreds of years before Columbus? Does simply asking that question make one a bigot? .
Critics accuse the publishers of Christian school texts of selecting literature books that feature "mediocre authors." It is said that "Extravagant and non-scholarly assertions and generalizations abound." No informed individual would make that accusation. Actually, the public school texts are guilty of mediocrity.
The Hudson Institute did a study of 63 public school texts and found they used "scare" tactics, "misinformation," and "sloppy writing." The texts "present statistics and population projections from the early 60s. Editors make no note of outdated information, nor do they bother to correct flagrant errors and distortions. A 1981 textbook uses figures more than 20 years old for life expectancy in India." What was that about non-scholarly assertions in Christian texts?
How about the public school texts that tell students that slaves chopped sugar cane in the American Southwest? Sugar cane in the Southwest? Or, how about the one that stated the English fought the British in the American Revolution? Then there was an illustration showing a colonial mother who had an electric range in her kitchen! Does that qualify as "sloppy writing"?
How about the public school text that blames the U.S. for the cold war, the Korean War and the Vietnam War? Is that scholarly? The same text characterizes liberals as "charismatic," "compassionate," "dauntless," "honest," "good," "eloquent," while conservatives are "reactionary," "shrewd," "undiplomatic," "inflexible," "sniping," "hateful," etc. What could motivate authors to twist history unless it was to brainwash the minds of children so they would be ripped away from their historical and religious moorings?
Public school texts such as the "Dick and Jane" reading series for lower grades helped produce a "nation at risk"? Comic books are popular in many public schools because the students didn't learn to read with the "Dick and Jane" series while in grade school. This is only one of many examples of the "dumbing down" of public school materials.
How many public schools still expose their students to Dante, Homer, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton, John Bunyan, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Martin Luther, Virgil, Cicero, etc.? Not many.
This writer developed Christian school texts that expose fourth-graders to Daniel Defoe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Wreck of the Hesperus," John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Robert Southey's "The Inchcape Rock."
In the fifth grade, students study, among many others, Louisa May Alcott, Washington Irving, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Henry David Thoreau, James Fenimore Cooper, Samuel Johnson, etc. They memorize many of the poems that are character-building in nature.
The sixth graders study authors that many college students have difficulty reading! Authors such as Benjamin Disraeli, Patrick Henry, John Ruskin, Oliver Goldsmith, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Bacon, Horace Greeley, Lord Byron, Benjamin Alexander Pope, Samuel Coleridge, etc. are common. In all grades, many of the authors have multiple works, and students often are required to memorize them.
High schoolers study Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Holy War, Tolstoy, and others. Obviously, many Christian school students are exposed to more challenging authors than the pabulum in most public schools.
The Bob Jones and Pensacola texts identify Unitarianism as a "false religion" that "ignored man's need for forgiveness of sin through the blood of Christ...." What is the problem with that statement, other than not wanting the truth revealed? Honest Unitarians will admit that it is an accurate statement other than the characterization of it as a "false religion."
The Christian texts "ridicule" Muslims, Buddists, and Hindus, and Christian authors are accused of "Catholic-bashing." No one accuses the Christian texts of teaching that the various religions have no right to exist, only that they are criticized and "ridiculed." Should Christians recommend that people trust their immortal souls to what they believe are false religions simply to appear tolerant to liberals? It seems that Catholic-bashing--pointing out theological error--is anathema, but fundamentalist-bashing is acceptable! What's the difference?
Roman Catholicism, in the Christian school texts, is called, "a perversion of biblical Christianity," whose leaders are "blinded by superstition and ignorance" and "sunk deep in moral corruption." If one has a modicum of historical and theological knowledge, he will not argue that statement. All one need do is ask for a biblical foundation for purgatory, limbo, indulgences, transubstantiation, celibacy, prayer beads, idols, confession to priests, popery, etc. to prove the point.
It is charged that those students who receive their entire education in Christian schools using the Bob Jones and Pensacola texts will absorb visions of reality abhorrent to most Americans, "....especially those whose religious faiths are slandered and distorted." Speaking of religious distortions, let me set the record straight and show what a hypocrite many liberals are.
Dr. Paul Vitz, a professor at New York University (and a Roman Catholic) released a study that sent shock waves across America. He evaluated 60 public school texts used by 87% of public school students to "observe how religion, religious values, family and family values are represented in the typical social studies textbooks used in the nation's public schools."
Vitz discovered in 40 texts for grades 1-4 "....that none of the books had one text reference to a primary religious activity occurring in representative contemporary American life....there is not one text reference to characteristic American Protestant religious life in these books....[Christ and Jesus'] names do not occur in any of these books' treatments of contemporary U.S. life...when these books cover other societies--religion gets a substantially greater emphasis.... Indian religion often gets a sympathetic treatment." Is that scholarship? Is that balance?
Vitz continues his devastating attack upon public school texts by writing, "It is common in these books to treat Thanksgiving without explaining to whom the Pilgrims gave thanks....The Pueblo [Indians] can pray to Mother Earth, but Pilgrims can't be described as praying to God--and never are Christians described as praying to Jesus...."
In ten sixth-grade texts that deal with world history and culture, the life of Jesus gets 36 lines and Mohammed gets 104 lines. Keep in mind that the life of Jesus Christ made the most profound impact on the world yet it is treated as a minor event. The rise of Islam gets 11 pages plus scattered coverage, and the rise of Christianity gets only a few lines! Christmas is not the birth of Christ, but a time for "thought and thanksgiving." Is that fair, scholarly, and balanced?
Vitz discovered that "...There is not one text reference to marriage as the foundation of the family." The word "marriage" or "wedding" did not appear once in 40 books. Neither is "husband" or "wife" in those books. A family is "a group of people."
The study revealed that "There was not one story that celebrated motherhood or marriage as a positive goal or as a rich and meaningful way of living. No story showed any woman or girl with a positive relationship to a baby or young child; no story dealt with a girl's positive relationship with a doll; no picture showed a girl with a baby or doll." Does that reflect normal American life?
Vitz notes that "There are other types of feminist bias in these books, such as stories that misrepresent history by referring to women judges, merchants, and soldiers at times and places where in fact there weren't any."
It is demanded that "No public funds should be given to schools that inculcate religious prejudice." That would close down most public schools! Most people don't know the definition of the word "prejudice." It does not mean to criticize, be against, dislike, or even to hate someone. It simply means to "prejudge a matter without looking at the facts." Critics should be assured that Christian educators have not done that. What they believe has been thoroughly considered, studied, analyzed, and discussed before it is published and taught.
Let me surprise some readers and say that I agree with the statement above. Moreover, I don't believe any public money should be give to any school, from pre-school through university level, at any time under any circumstance whether public or parochial. When that happens, the free market would take over and inferior schools (public and Christian) would go out of business. Then, maybe, the nightmare of public education would become a faint memory as a very foolish, socialist experience by an uninformed American public--and taxpayers would rejoice again from sea to shining sea.
Copyright 2000, Don Boys, Ph.D
(Dr. Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 10 books, national Director of Common Sense for Today, columnist, frequent guest on national radio and TV talk shows and evangelist living in Ringgold, GA.)