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Should Public Schools be Supported by Christians?

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A few days ago I received an email from Jim. He was upset with my dogmatic stance on the need for Christians to abandon “public schools,” that is, schools run by local, state, and federal governments. I offered a number of exceptions to his points in the following article. In a later email, he did apologize for some of his statements. He even admitted that his “daughter home schools her three children.” Since Jim’s comments are typical of how many Christians argue for public education. Here was my response with a few additions:

Jim,

Thanks for writing. I’m not sure what article you are referring to that you read, so it is difficult for me to respond to it specifically. I’ll try to address some of the points you raised in your email to me:

First, judging Christian schools based on the bad behavior of some is not a good way to present a case. We should expect students, parents, and teachers to act like jerks, even if they are Christians. I must say, however, that Christian schools have more flexibility to deal with these types of problems unlike many public schools. I refer you to John Stossel’s “Stupid in America” to see how difficult it is to fire a teacher. It’s mind boggling.

Second, you’re right; a moment of silence is not much in terms of a Christ-centered education. It’s indicative of what has happened to Christians in America. They think a moment of silence is the first step in victory to win back the public schools. We’ve been hearing this refrain since the early 1960s when prayer and Bible reading were officially removed. The efforts to reclaim the public schools have netted a period of silence while tens of millions of young people hear secular indoctrination six hours each day. There is no neutrality. Facts are interpreted. If Jesus Christ is not the interpreter of reality, then something else is. What if Christians got their wish and prayer was made legal again? Prayers to whom? Allah? Satan?

Third, there may be teachers you know who pray in school and mention Christian things. They are breaking the law. All it takes is one parent to object, and the practice will be halted. I can cite you numerous examples. Just try to mention “Intelligent Design” or “Creation” and see what happens if the ACLU hears of it. Let’s count how many disputes will arise when Christmas, I mean, “Winter Break” commences, and someone wants to sing a Christmas song or just play the music with no words. Frosty the Snowman never saved anyone.

Fourth, students are in school to learn their academic subjects. There’s very little opportunity for witnessing. It can’t be done during class time, since students are to be silent and pay attention to the lesson.

Fifth, you are assuming that schools are the only place where kids interact. Adults aren’t in school, and yet they don’t seem to have trouble witnessing to nonbelievers. What do children do in the summer when school isn’t in session? What about after school? On weekends? The religious discussions I had as a teenager were not in school. These types of conversations took place in general conversation outside the classroom.

Sixth, my money is being taken from me to educate the children of other parents in a worldview that is opposed to nearly everything a Christian would believe and espouse. This hardly seems right.

Seventh, why would Christian parents voluntarily send their children to an institution for six hours a day, ten months of the year, for 12 years to have them schooled in a worldview that they say they don’t believe in?

Eighth, I am responsible for the education of my children. My children are my first circle of responsibility. If they are being harmed in word or deed, I’m going to take action to protect them. Protection is not a bad thing at a certain age.

Ninth, Jesus did hang with sinners, but at no time did He instruct parents to hand their children over to the Roman education system.

Tenth, I have not separated myself from people who need to see the true light by not sending my children to government schools. I could probably make a good case that Christian children are more influenced by non-Christian children in government schools. If you want, I can show you the statistics that this is a true statement.

I’m sorry to have to say this, but government education is one of the main reasons America is as bad off as it is. It’s not to indict all Christians who teach there. Their hands are tied. Their hands would not be tied in a school separated from government interference and tax-payer financing. We have freedom, unlike Daniel and his three friends in Babylon (Dan. 1), and we voluntarily send our children to be educated by a worldview that is officially anti-Christian.

It’s always the other person’s school that’s bad. I hear this so often that I wonder if there are any bad schools. We think our school is OK because no one got raped this year or some New Age religionist hasn’t come in to let the children “experience” spiritual wonderment or our textbooks aren’t at this time pushing the homosexual agenda. If every subject is not being taught from a Christ-centered perspective when it could be in a home school or institutional Christian school setting, then I don’t understand why any Christian parent would send his children anywhere else. I suspect that it’s because they consider public education to be “free.” And I wouldn’t be surprised that the main reason most Christian teachers remain in the public school is because the pay is good, health insurance is top notch, and retirement benefits are beyond belief.

If I seem closed minded, then after all of what I just rehearsed, maybe it’s not such a bad thing.

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