If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times. When talking to Christians about the need to provide their children with a biblically-based education, I hear this as one of the most common excuses for not doing so. Please remember that when I use the term “public school”, I am really talking about secular education. Here is the excuse I hear far too often.
I attended public school and I survived. I am a good Christian so I don’t see why my children won’t survive it also!
I can remember talking with some parents that believed that they had “survived” public school education. When they told me this, I asked them a very important question. Do you believe that the church today has more, less, or the same influence on the culture as it did 20, 30 or 50 years ago? It is amazing that everyone I ask this question to all answer it the same. Today’s church definitely has less influence on the culture than it did a decade or more ago! Based on that answer, how can we say that we have survived “public” education?
The truth of the matter is that “public” education has created an increasingly secular society where the church has been privatized and marginalized. We should not be surprised by this since this was a concern of some Christians more than 70 years ago. Charles Clayton Morrison was a former editor of The Christian Century magazine. Even though Morrison was considered to be a liberal theologian, he still understood the devastating results of a secular educational system. When addressing some 10,000 public school educators, he told them,
The public school is confessedly and deliberately secular. I am bound, therefore, to lay on the doorstep of our educational system the prime responsibility for the decline of religion and the steady advance of secularism, another name for atheism, in American society…Protestant children in public schools are under an influence which the churches cannot counteract. The public school presents the church with a generation of youth whose minds have been cast in a secular world.
Morrison made this bold statement in 1940! If Morrison saw secular education having such a strong influence back then, what would he say about this matter today? C.F. Potter was one of the signers of the first Humanist Manifesto. Around the same time that Morrison made his bold statement, Potter said,
Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday Schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?
Liberal author and crusader of social justice in the 1970s Paul Blanchard reinforced what others realized about secular education some 30 years later when he said,
I think the most important factor leading us to a secular society has been the educational factor. Our schools may not teach Johnny to read properly, but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is 16 tends to lead toward the elimination of religious superstition. The average child now acquires a high school education, and this militates Adam and Eve and all other myths of alleged history (emphasis mine).
There is no doubt about it. Secular education has produced a secular society. At the same time, religion [the church] has been privatized. Being privatized means that the church is free to believe anything it wants to but those beliefs should not be brought into the public square. Therefore, the church has lost its influence on the society.
There is no question that today’s culture has gone beyond being merely a post-Christian culture to fast becoming an anti-Christian one. When one thinks of the characteristics of this type of society, in every case you can trace its roots to what has been taught in secular classrooms for the last seventy five to one hundred years (I will leave this subject for future posts). So whenever I hear a Christian say that he/she survived “public” school, I look at the condition of today’s culture and the lack of influence on the part of the church.
I don’t call this surviving “public” schools. What do you think?