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Students in public schools are often denied the right to discuss religion except in a multi-cultural way. If Christianity is discussed, it can only be studied in the context of other religious belief systems in their historical setting. But as we’ve seen, even this approach is no longer accepted in reference to Christianity. Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek School in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Cupertino, was barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God—including the Declaration of Independence.
Criticism of evolution is forbidden in most public (government) educational institutions, even if the discussion is solely academic. The claim is made that behind the criticism lurks religious presuppositions. Abstinence education also falls into this category.
Christians want to believe that “academic freedom” is an operating principle in academic settings, so they push for “equal time for Jesus” or the two-model approach to teaching origins. Academic freedom is a one-way street. It is used by secularists to get Christians to open their academic doors to their religious institutions to allow teachers and ideas where neutrality is assumed, for example in math and science departments. This is how Harvard was lost—separating the religious department from the academic departments. There is no such open-door policy in secular institutions. Public schools are no exception. Are we surprised when public schools act consistent with their adopted secularist worldview? We shouldn’t be. He who pays the piper calls the tune; he who collects your tax dollars by force writes and enforces the curriculum. When will Christians understand this?
Why do Christians waste time, money, and their children in defense of public (government) education? While Christians attempt to “save” their beloved local public schools, another generation of young people is seduced by the anti-Christian worldview of a materialist education. This has been happening for decades with no progress. Public schools aren’t even what they were in the 1970s. Watch Mr. Holland’s Opus and Lean on Me to see the retrogression.
The no-public-education view isn’t popular with the majority of Christians. Blasting public education in America is akin to blaspheming on holy ground. What would communities do without their high school sports teams and their “free” education? In order to justify the continued support of public education, the following excuses are often given:
“We can’t afford to send our children to private schools.”
If Christians pulled their children out of public schools, voted down every tax increase having to do with education, repealed the education portion of the property tax, and supported candidates who would cut every dollar from education funding, then most families could afford the costs involved. The money spent on trying to “save” public schools would go a long way in establishing scholarship funds for families who cannot afford a private-school education. Yes, it may even take some sacrificing on the part of some. Of course, home schooling is always an option. Drive a fourteen-year-old car like I did while my wife and I sent our children to Christian schools. Live in a smaller house. Don’t eat out as much. There are many ways to cut spending to fund the real necessities of life. When your children get older, have them work to share the financial load.
“It’s not the church’s job to educate.”
I’ve heard this one a lot. Christian school critics balk at turning over the church’s facilities for educational purposes because the tithe is designed to support the church’s work, not the education of children. “That’s why we pay taxes.” The church building is vacant six days a week. Sunday School classrooms are used for forty-five minutes a week! What a waste of God’s money. Our church supports numerous missionaries. Many of the missionaries we support build schools. Why is it OK to build schools in Africa with our tithe but not in our own backyard?
So we send our children to public schools where they are indoctrinated for thirty hours of classroom instruction each week in the latest non-Christian propaganda. To combat secularized education, Christian school critics develop “youth programs” for Wednesday and Sunday evenings. These kids are getting at most two hours of weekly second-rate religious instruction, while a child in a Christian school receives thirty hours of training from a biblical perspective. There’s no comparison. Most church “youth programs” are weak entertainment gatherings with a “devotional” to give them legitimacy. I know there are exceptions.
When I attended Catholic school, there was no Sunday School instruction. The assumption was that religious instruction was woven into the curriculum. When my parents sent me to public school in the sixth grade, I had to attend religious instruction on Saturday morning to make up the deficiency. There is no way that the 45-minute instruction period could compensate for what I was not receiving at the local public school.
“My child is a witness for Christ in the public schools.”
He or she may be. But I wonder how much witnessing actually takes place in public schools. Most of the time children are sitting at their desks listening to a teacher lecturing on a secularized curriculum. From the time I entered public school in the sixth grade, no one ever presented the gospel to me. It’s the friendships that are developed after school that lead to witnessing opportunities. Witnessing can take place anywhere. Jesus met people at work and in their homes. He even went into the temple. If you want to follow Jesus’ example then go witness to Jews in their local temples. Jesus never witnessed in a school.
“Our school is different.”
I heard this one from the head of a prominent Christian ministry. I told him that it’s a common response. In fact, as much as I hear it, it seems that no one’s school is bad. It’s always some other community’s school system that’s in need of reform. My guess is that most parents have no idea what’s going on in their child’s school. If they don’t hear any bad news, they assume that all is well. Keep in mind that public school children are not comparing their education with the public school education that was prominent forty years ago. And it wasn’t that great back then. The education students are receiving right now is normal for them. It’s the only standard they know, and it’s not a very good one. Anyway, a school that does not teach from a Christian perspective is at best third-rate.
“I want my child to be exposed to the ‘real’ world.”
Who defines what constitutes the “real world”? The real world is where Christ dwells and where His Word is taught. Christianity is not unreal. If it is, then why not worship with pagans since their domain is the “real world.” Remember, Adam and Eve “fell” from what was normal, that is, from a world where they were in intimate fellowship with their Creator. A world without Christ is an insane and irrational world. The Christian school is a place of re-creation, a redemptive attempt to get back to the original design. Schools that Christians establish should act as magnets for unbelievers to be brought back to the garden. Christians should be setting the agenda for what’s real, honest, and good so as to be a light for those who are in darkness.
I believe God has been giving us a very clear message through the modern-day equivalent of Balaam’s donkey: The United States Supreme Court and nearly every lower court. Balaam was called on by Balak, the king of Moab, to prophesy against Israel. God had warned Balaam to stay away from Moab. Balaam refused. The Angel of the Lord met Balaam on the road as he was going down to meet Balak. Balaam’s donkey refused to confront the Angel of the LORD. Balaam struck his donkey three times to force him ahead. Finally, Balaam realized that it was the Lord who was directing him to turn around.
Repeatedly the Supreme Court has ruled against Christians and their attempts to bring Christianity back to the classroom. Like Balaam, a majority of Christians refuse to heed the message that God is giving through the Court: Seek a different route.
Saying prayers at sporting events, reciting “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, praying around a flag pole once a year, and having the right to “a moment of silence” do not constitute a Christian education. The entire curriculum must be Christ-centered. God is speaking to us through the Court. Do we have the sense to listen in 2005?