‘It is one thing to show a man that he is in error,
and another to put him in possession of the truth.”
“No Bigotry, No Sanction”
Rev. Donald N. Sills
The writer is a born again Christian, whose roots sink deep in mainline Evangelical theology. I am a Baptist Minister and have been for almost 40 years. Academically I hold two Doctoral degrees, Divinity and Humanities. In the field of education I currently (1994) serve as the President of George Wythe College and I am the Executive Vice President of the Center for Educational Restoration, with 62 schools in the United States. I am also on the Board of the Coral Ridge Baptist University, Jacksonville, Florida.
Like most who may read this article I accepted Christ, and grew up during the 1950′s, 60’s, and early 70’s. The prevailing view during those years regarding our educational system was, “It’s working and we are producing the best educated students in the world.”
True, there were a few who started sounding the alarm that there was something wrong in the system. When the words and views of John Dewey, the reputed “Father of Modern-day Education”, were closely analyzed, stirrings that something was amiss began to arise. Dewey once said that if the public (government) schools could keep the children occupied from 7:00 or 7:30 in the morning, throughout the day, with sports after school, and homework in the evening, that the parents would have less than an hour a day with their children, and that the family’s and Christian church’s influence over them could be broken in about a generation.
(In the late 80’s a colleague of mine, Dr. Robert Grant, founder and chairman of the board of Christian Voice and founder and board chairman of The American Freedom Coalition, spoke on a number or occasions regarding the subject in question. I have asked for and received his permission to include many of his comments.)
The prevailing view regarding political activism by Evangelicals, was still non-involvement, although, as early as1947, Dr. Carl F. Henry’s book, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, had signaled the early stirring of a shift back to a more Biblical view.
During this same era Conservative Bible-believing Christian preachers correctly taught that we must pray for those who are in authority over us. They bolstered the need for evangelism to win people to Christ and preparation for eternity in anticipation of Jesus’ imminent return.
Also believers were exhorted to maintain separation from the world (II Cor. 6:l4ff) . “Separation” had two common applications during those days.
First, it was interpreted to establish restrictions against participation in “worldly” entertainments. Believers were forbidden from attending the theater, playing cards, dancing or the use of tobacco and alcohol.
Second, it was interpreted to place a stricture against getting involved in politics. The argument against political activism was largely based on the premise that politics was dirty, was “of this world” and therefore would end up soiling those Christians who got involved. This argument was based upon a failure to understand that politics is neither intrinsically dirty or clean. It is neutral. Actually it is the moral or immoral use of politics (the science or governing) which makes it either good or bad.
The result of this shoddy theology was that churches became spiritually ghetto-ized, and a society that rotted from within. Hence came about many of the abuses and social ills that now eat away at the innards of this great country, a country that initially prospered as a result of a historic compact between involved men or faith, and God.
A brief historical review of America’s national spiritual decline documents that during the 60’s religious exercises were removed from the public schools. During the 70’s the abortion holocaust began. It has been followed by an escalated assault on religious freedom. The bounds of decency have been relentlessly pushed back so that now magazines and television, not to mention the theaters, have virtually no limits on what can be depicted. More recently the “mining” of the bodies of the unborn for spare parts (as though they were discarded wrecks in some auto grave yard) also has become socially acceptable. Given the premises of humanism… if they be true.., then why not?
The ultimate responsibility for the destruction of America’s moral values, (which includes our dismal failure in the field of education) , during recent generations, in my judgement, will be laid by God at the front steps of America’s churches. Biblical Christians clearly abandoned the battlefield and allowed evil to occupy it by default. The resulting massive spiritual/civic defeat is in my judgement directly traceable to the apathy which pervaded the hearts of millions of individual believers in America. Judgement is indeed come to the Church in America.
Fortunately, a great and much welcomed reawakening occurred in the late 70’s and has continued on into our day. It may well be that the intrusion of the humanist state in the affairs and domain of the kingdom precipitated this renaissance. As a result many Christians have begun to get their theology straightened out. They have rediscovered what has been lost. . .what our Christian forefathers knew well.. .what was accepted as Gospel at the time of the largely minister-led abolitionist movement, and even earlier at the time of the Great Awakening.
The abortion holocaust shook the neutralized Christian community to its roots. In the process they rediscovered the principle that being “salt” and “light”, and “occupying”, demands Christian involvement, in the affairs of our land. At the same time, Americans at large also began to rediscover that their political roots were, surprisingly, imbedded in the spiritual commitment of those Founders who gave birth to this land. And formerly inactive Christians began to get actively involved in large numbers.
I believe this has led parents to, once again, take control over the lives and education of their children. Currently there are upwards of 3,000,000 (three million) American youth being taught at home, or as they are called, Home Schooled. The fastest growing movement in the field of educatson today is the opening of private, Biblical directed, Constitutionally-based schools, where students of like mind are coming together, in essence, to recapture the quality of education that was orchestrated by the Founding Fathers of this country.
This army of new Christian activists suddenly, and perhaps uneasily, now find themselves in the trenches” often times with other morally-motivated, as Dr. Francis Schaerer cosned, “cobelligerants of other faiths. This takes some getting used to…and some maturing as well. In many communities the first moral activists were often, in fact, not from either evangelical or fundamentalist ranks. Evangelicals have often had to play “catch up’ to Roman Catholics, Mormons, and other value-oriented activists.
What Was Accomplished?
As we look back and evaluate the strides that have been taken we must ask the question -WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED? Sad to say we have won a few battles across the country but we are still losing the war. Why? Perhaps it is because we are more interested in building our own empires and little kingdoms than in truly discovering the mind of Christ and what, as Christians, He would have us do.
Directed by strong-willed, entrepreneur minded determined leaders, single-issue groups have sprung up all around America.
These are more often than not led by people of deep religious convictions. Collectively they represent an enormous reservoir of fragmented activism, with individual memberships of dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of participants. They often become possessed by the ill- gotten idea that they, in isolation, can have great impact. Their tendency toward isolation from others of like concerns has contributed to the fragmentation process which has clearly marked this movement and which has left it nearly impotent.
Prejudices springing out of religious exclusiveness, racial prejudice, and ethnic background, have too often stood as walls preventing needed cooperative efforts. Even the urge to “be the boss”, to build an “Empire”, has greatly restricted the overall effectiveness of God’s calling. Too often the New Testament admonition concerning the servant role has given way to the overriding desire for power and control.
What Emotion Now Prevails?
What is the result of splintering? An enormous feeling of frustration that now reaches into every community in America. It springs out of the realization that, despite massive, courageous, and spiritual motivated effort we are still losing the war. We have failed thus far on a national level to establish a system whereby our children are taught the fundamentals of right and wrong. Situation ethics has gained the high ground. Because the Christian community has been waiting for somebody to fix things we have virtually lost an entire generation of our youth. Is it hopeless? Only if we determine to live in a vacuum of prejudice and spiritual bigotry.
In our churches, which number close to 400,000 in the United States, we are individually convinced that beyond doubt “we” are right and the rest of the so called spiritual community is wrong. We have developed many convenient excuses for our failures, none more convenient than, “we live in the last days and therefore it is just a fulfillment of prophecy.”
When In God’s name are we going to face the truth that as long as we spend our time in fighting with each other the Devil and His crowd will continue to march forward and keep destroying the children that God has placed in our care and responsibility?
I often wonder if He is really as concerned with our spiritual “correctness” as we are?
Perhaps the time has come when we must realize that if we are going to see our prayers answered regarding the educational morass in which we find ourselves, we will indeed have to combine our mutual talents and suppress our individual differences.
The time is long past due when we must seek common ground upon which we can build an educational system that will undergird our children from both a moral and spiritual standpoint.
(Some of the following key points are taken from The Making of America, by W. Cleon Skousen.)
The Role of Religion in the Founding Fathers’
Americans of the twentieth century often fail to realize the supreme importance which the Founding Fathers originally attached to the role of religion in the unique experiment which they hoped would emerge as the first civilization of a free people in modern times. Many Americans also fail to realize that the Founders felt the role of religion would be as important in our own day as it was in theirs.
In 1787, the very year the Constitution was written by the Convention and approved by Congress, that same body of Congress passed the famous Northwest Ordinance. In it they enunciated the basic rights of citizens in language similar to that which was later incorporated. in the Bill of Rights. And they emphasized the essential need to teach religion and morality in the schools. Here is the way they said it:
1. Religion, which might he defined as “a fundamental system or beliefs concerning mans origin and. relationship to the Creator, the cosmic universe, and his relationship with his fellowmen.”
2. Morality, which may be described as “a standard of behavior distinguishing right from wrong.”
3. Knowledge, which is “an intellectual awareness and understanding of established facts relating to an field of human experience or inquiry, i.e., history, geography, science, etc.”
Please note that “religion and morality” were not required by the Founders as merely an intellectual exercise, but they positively declared their conviction that these were essential ingredients needed for “good government and the happiness of mankind.”
Rather than following the example of the Founders, wherein they labored to exclude the creeds and biases or dissensions or individual denominations so as to make the teaching of religion a unifying cultural adhesive rather than a divisive apparatus, many today have added mortar arid stone to the walls that separate us, thereby fueling the fires of distrust and religious bigotry.
Jefferson wrote a bill for the “Establishing of Elementary Schools” in Virginia and made this point clear by stating:
“No religious reading, instruction or exercise shall be prescribed or practiced inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination.”
A Plan for the Future
Since ‘government schools” have now gone far astray from America’s roots it behooves us to recapture, in the private sector, the right and responsibility of controlling our children’s education. Realizing that 95% of America’s children attend the public schools I do not advocate abandoning the public system.
But, under its present form and determination of leadership to diminish the quality of education, I am convinced that we must counter this godless control by establishing schools where the student can once again be taught the fundamentals of their faith.
This will not happen unless there is a real “Educational Revolution.” In the public sector this will only happen when those teachers, caught in the system, who do not agree with the rules and curriculum under which they are forced to teach, are willing to take control of education and teach that which they know is right and openly defy the laws under which they are required to teach. Even to the loss of their jobs. They must ask themselves which is more important, their current job or the future of the children they teach.
There has never been a greater opportunity for the development of schools where right is taught than there is now. If enough teachers, nation-wide, would move out of the current system and establish their own schools, based on biblical principles, and right morals, it would not take long until the government’s educational system did an about-face, or it would collapse internally. Then those teachers could rebuild it anew.
Not only must our private and home schools return to a Biblical based, Constitutionally grounded form of education, we must also face the responsibility of teaching our youth how to live together in the twenty-first century.
The role of education is to educate. To teach our youth how they can live in a world of diversity without losing their individuality. When a parent places their child in the care of a teacher they must know that teacher will help build a stronger child. One who can be more in tune with their families beliefs and to stand firm on their faith. The teacher’s role is to help the child be better in their home church, rather than trying to bring that child into their own church.
We must counter what John Dewey set in motion. The parent must be actively involved in their child’s education. The church must be at the heart of education. It is time to return the child to the parent and move away from any activity that will weaken the family structure. The rebuilding of the family is the most notable goal we can have as we approach the twenty-first century.
IN CONCLUSION: Please allow me to say, We need to develop an alternative educational system (where the welfare or the child is paramount). We need to build a non-sectarian inter-denominational concept or learning. A place where bigotry is given no sanction and the rights of all are upheld without any religious rancor. The goal would be not to proselytize nor to give special preference to any particular church.
Students need to be guided with the Word of God and to be instilled with a love for learning and a love for country, thus making them a better member wherever they choose to worship.