The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Indoctrination is an Inescapable Concept

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A window of opportunity exists in our nation since families are being pressured by circumstances seemingly beyond their control to follow ominous historical patterns set before us in the atheistic regimes of Marx and Hitler. Education, for the most part, is centralized and controlled by civil government, at both the state and national levels with its Department of Education. Women are entering the work force for various reasons, most out of financial necessity. Our nation’s tax structure is a burden on families.[1] The continuing rise in the Social Security tax is financially handicapping the family.[2] State governments are pushing for longer school years and earlier attendance requirements (e.g., compulsory kindergarten). Today’s educational establishment is in academic and moral crisis. The April 1983 publication A Nation at Risk “expressed alarm at the marked deterioration of academic study in or secondary schools.”

Secondary school curricula have been homogenized, diluted, and diffused to the point that they no longer have a central purpose. In effect, we have a cafeteria-style curriculum in which the appetizers and desserts can easily be mistaken for the main courses.[3]

In addition, there is a moral crisis. “A generation ago, American public schools began to walk away from their role as moral educators. Schools feared they would be accused of imposing religion or ‘indoctrinating’ children, so they stuck to academics, leaving moral instruction to parents and the community.”[4] In light of all of this, frustrated parents, conservative groups, and some educators are calling for a new approach to moral education, one that gives students a grounding in what former Secretary of Education William Bennett described as “those values all Americans share.” One school district in Maryland has chosen 24 core values from the Constitution.[5] But why are these values “core values”? On what ethical standard does the Constitution rest? The Constitution itself does not say, unless it’s “We the people.” But that only takes it back a step. Democracy is no moral cure all. John Winthrop (1588–1649), first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, declared direct democracy to be “the meanest and worst of all forms of government.”[6] John Cotton (1584–1652), seventeenth-century Puritan minister in Massachusetts, wrote in 1636: “Democracy, I do not conceive that ever God did ordain as a fit government either for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed?”[7] James Madison (1751–1836), recognized as the “father of the Constitution,” wrote that democracies are “spectacles of turbulence and contention.” Pure democracies are “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property. . . . In general [they] have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”[8] John Adams, the second president of the United States, stated that “the voice of the people is ‘sometimes the voice of Mahomet, of Caesar, of Catiline, the Pope, and the Devil.’”[9] Francis A. Schaeffer described democracy as “the dictatorship of the 51%, with no controls and nothing with which to challenge the majority.”[10] The logic is simple: “It means that if Hitler was able to get a 51% vote of the Germans, he had a right to kill the Jews.”[11]

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Unfortunately, there is no consensus on morality just as there is no consensus on curriculum.[12] A transcendent standard of right and wrong must be found—a standard that is greater than man or corporate man. Vox populi, vox dei, “The voice of the people is the voice of God,” is not the answer. Only the Triune God of Scripture can set forth what is right or wrong. But this cannot work in today’s educational atmosphere. Such an approach would mean “indoctrinating” students. Let’s face facts. Children are indoctrinated the first day they enter a classroom. All teachers espouse a moral code. Sometimes that moral code comes as a directive by the State. If a teacher can’t say that this is right or this is wrong, then anything goes, and usually does.

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[1] “During the last four decades, families with children have seen their federal tax liability rise dramatically. In 1948, a median-income family of four paid two percent of its gross earnings to the federal government in income and payroll taxes. Today, a median income family of our pays 24 percent of its earnings to the Federal Treasury. The failure of the personal exemption to keep pace with inflation has been the primary cause of rising income taxes on families with children. If the exemption had been indexed since 1948, it would now be $6,300. Instead, it is a mere $2,000.” (William R. Mattox, Jr., “The ‘Parenting Penalty,’” Family Policy, Family Research Council, 601 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite 901, Washington, D.C. 20004 [March/April 1989], 3).
In 1937 the Social Security tax was 2% of a maximum 3,000 yearly income. The system originally covered only 15% of the work force. In 1973 the taxable wage base was $10,800. In 1974 it was $13,200. In 1980 it went up to $25,900; and in 1985 the total was increased to $42,000. Even the percentage of tax taken has gone up, from 2% to 15.3% for both employees and employers on incomes up to $62,100 through 1995. The percentage will continue to climb: The inspiration for America’s Social Security system came from a plan developed by Otto Von Bismark, the “Iron Chancellor” of Germany, which included “a program for social security far beyond anything known in other countries. It included compulsory insurance for workers against old age, sickness, accident and incapacity, and though organized by the State it was financed by employers and employees” (Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 96, note). Hitler “studied Bismarck’s socialist legislation in its intention struggle and success” (Mein Kampf, 155). FDR also followed Bismark’s methods. See P.J. O’Brien, Forward with Roosevelt: An Authentic Narrative of His Life, Aims, and Ambitions, and a Graphic Story of His Endeavors for Social Security (Philadelphia, PA: The John C. Winston Co., 1936), 84–85.
Quoted in William J. Bennett, James Madison High School: A Curriculum for American Students (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Education, 1987), 1.
Eleanor Smith, “The New Moral Classroom,” Psychology Today (May 1989), 32.
Smith, “The New Moral Classroom,” 34.
Quoted in A. Marvyn Davies, Foundation of American Freedom: Calvinism in the Development of Democratic Thought and Action (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1955), 11.
[7] Letter to Lord Say and Seal, quoted by Perry Miller and Thomas H. Johnson, eds., The Puritans: A Sourcebook of Their Writings, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Row, [1938) 1963), 1:209–210. Also see Edwin Powers, Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts: 1620–1692 (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1966), 55.
Quoted in Jacob E. Cooke, ed., The Federalist, (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), 61.
Honest John Adams (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co., [1933] 1961), 241 in John Eidsmoe, “The Christian America Response to National Confessionalism,” in Gary Scott Smith, ed., God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1989), 227–228.
[10] Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century (1970) in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, 5 vols. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 4:27.
Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, 4:27.
[12] A number of universities are designing a revised curriculum by adding non-western texts. This will mean a shift in values from a once-unified Western (Christian) ethical system to a smorgasbord (pluralistic) cultural ethical system. As the study of western culture goes so goes western values. Margaret Mead’s study of Samoan culture would be just as valid (maybe even more so) than the Old and New Testaments. Mead wrote: “Romantic love as it occurs in our civilization inextricably bound up with ideas of monogamy, exclusiveness, jealously and undeviating fidelity does not occur in Samoa. Our attitude is a compound . . . of the institution of monogamy, of the ideas of the age of chivalry, of the ethics of Christianity. (Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa [New York: William Morrow, (1928) 1973], 79. Quoted in Ian T. Taylor, In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order, rev. ed. [Toronto, Canada: TFE Publishing, 1987], 417). In 1991, Georgia rejected the high school textbook Triumph of the American Nation, “criticizing its ‘outdated approach, inattention to multiculturalism, inadequate critical thinking questions, and choppy narrative flow.’. . . The new Todd and Curti exemplifies disturbing trends in social studies publishing today. It is a big step backward, a case of ‘dumbing down’ and revisionist folly in search of a larger audience. No ‘Triumph’ remains in the title, except for the many forces in contemporary culture that seek to transform the curriculum along the fault lines of multiculturalism.” (Gilbert T. Sewall, “The Triumph of Textbook Trendiness,” Wall Street Journal [March 1, 1994], A14).

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