CULTURE AND CIVILISATION: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
Education wars: the battle for our children
, September 29, 2012
There is perhaps no greater battleground than that of the education arena. Whoever can educate (or indoctrinate) our children will win not only our children but the future. For centuries we have known of the crucial importance of education, especially the relatively new public, or state, education.
Abraham Lincoln once said: “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Vladimir Lenin boasted, “Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” And again, “Give us the child for eight years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.”
Well did Winston Churchill lament, “Schools have not necessarily much to do with education… they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school.”
Religious leaders too have seen the battleground that education is.
The famous 19th-century British Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, offered this caution: “To leave our youthful population in the hands of secular teachers, will be to sell them to the Ishmaelites.”
But it is not just a question of secularism robbing children of values. If education were indeed value-neutral, that would still be a worry.
As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” Or, as Theodore Roosevelt once put it, “To educate a child in the mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”
But education of course is not value-neutral. Someone’s worldview and values will always be pushed. And what we have witnessed over the past century or so is the steady banishment of Judeo-Christian values, replaced by those of the secular humanists.
But don’t take my word for it. The secular warriors themselves have been most explicit about their intentions of capturing education for their purposes. They have made it absolutely clear that they are engaged in a war on religion, and want to replace it with their own religion: secular humanism.
All the early atheists and secular humanists admitted to the religious nature of their worldview. For example, in late 19th-century England, Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) and other atheists sought to overthrow the cultural dominance of Christianity. Their goal was to secularise society, and replace Christianity with the “church scientific”.
His grandson, Julian Huxley (1887-1975), sought to “develop a scientific religion”, which he called “evolutionary humanism”. As he wrote in 1959, “It is essential for evolution to become the central core of any educational system, because it is evolution, in the broad sense, that links inorganic nature with life, and the stars with the earth, and matter with mind, and animals with man. Human history is a continuation of biological evolution in a different form.”
And they knew the key role which public education would play in carrying out their work of indoctrination. John Dewey (1859-1952), the father of modern education, and a signatory to the 1933 Humanist Manifesto, was adamant about the role of education is promoting agendas and pushing values: “Schools do have a role — and an important one — in production of social change.”
Or, as he said elsewhere; “We make a religion of our education…. Faith in education signifies nothing less than belief in the possibility of deliberate direction of the formation of human disposition and intelligence.” And again, “I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.”
The early secular humanists all knew the importance of using the education system to indoctrinate the young. They knew that if they could get to our children at an early age, they could win them for their religion of secular humanism. Way back in 1919 the American Communist Party had this as its slogan: “Give us one generation of small children to train to manhood and womanhood and we will set up the Bolshevist form of the Soviet Government.”
John Dunphy, who wrote “A New Religion for a New Age” in The Humanist (January/February 1983), was most clear about this. He said: “The battle for mankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytisers of a new faith: a religion of humanity….
“These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilising the classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level — preschool, day care centre or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new — the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.”
Or, as Charles Francis Potter — another signatory to Humanist Manifesto — put it, “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?”
More recently, the postmodern philosopher Richard Rorty (1931-2007) said this: “I, like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities, try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own.”
Rightly did Thomas Sowell write in his 1993 volume, Inside American Education: “Advocates of secular humanism have been quite clear and explicit as to the crucial importance of promoting their philosophy in the schools, to counter or undermine religious values among the next generation.”
Or, as Dennis Prager put it in his recent book, Still the Best Hope: “Just as the purpose of Christian seminaries is to produce committed Christians, the primary purpose of most Western universities is, consciously or not, to produce committed secular leftists. The major difference between them is that Christian seminaries declare their purpose, and Western universities do not.”
James Dobson and Gary Bauer, writing in Children at Risk (1990), warned: “The humanistic system of values has become the predominant way of thinking in most of the power centres of society. It has outstripped Judeo-Christian precepts in the universities, in the news media, in the entertainment industry, in the judiciary, in the federal bureaucracy, in business, medicine, law, psychology, sociology, in the arts, in many public schools and, to be sure, in the halls of Congress.”
Or, as Ann Coulter rightly complained in Godless America: “Public schools are forbidden from mentioning religion not because of the Constitution, but because public schools are the Left’s madrassas…. At least the crazy Muslims get funding from Saudi Arabia for their madrassas. Liberals force normal Americans to pay for their religious schools.”
Quite so. We now have religion and values galore in our public schools. But they are those of the secular humanists. And this has certainly not been by accident; it has been quite deliberate, as the above evidence affirms. Those with agendas have long known the importance of capturing education for their purposes.
As William F. Buckley warned a half century ago: “The most influential educators of our time — John Dewey, William Kilpatrick, George Counts, Harold Rugg, and the lot — are out to build a New Social Order. There is not enough room… for… religion (Christianity). It clearly won’t do … to foster within some schools a respect for an absolute, intractable God, a divine intelligence who is utterly unconcerned with other people’s versions of truth.… It won’t do to tolerate a competitor for the allegiance of man.
“The State prefers a secure monopoly for itself.… Religion (Christianity), then, must go.… The fight is being won. Academic freedom is entrenched. Religion (Christianity) is outlawed in public schools. The New Social Order is larruping along.”
As Mark Steyn put it in After America: “The massive expansion of American education is evidence not of progress but of its exact opposite — its decay into ideological factory farms. It’s a progressive 4-H: Hogwash, Hypersensitivity, Habituation, Homogeneity — for the price of which you wind up in Hock.”
The schools have been captured by the other side. Unless our children have been given a solid training in the biblical worldview, they will be ill-equipped to take on the secularist educators. As Dr D. James Kennedy pleaded, “Don’t send an eight-year-old out to take on a forty-year-old humanist. I have never seen any people more unhappy than fathers or mothers who have come to me and said, ‘Where did we go wrong? We gave him everything, and now he’s turned his back completely on everything we believe.’ Yes, they gave him everything but a Christian education.”
Or, as Mark Steyn wrote: “For four decades America watched as politically correct fatuities swallowed the entire educational system, while conservatives deluded themselves that it was just a phase, something kids had to put up with as the price for getting a better job a couple years down the road. The idea that two generations could be soaked in this corrosive bilge and it would have no broader impact, that it could be contained within the precincts of academe, was always foolish.”
Exactly. We have lost millions of Christian young people to the religion of secular humanism. If we want to turn this around, we first must be aware of the problem. In the West the schools are no longer the domain of the Judeo-Christian worldview, but of secular humanism. And, as Francis Schaeffer wrote in A Christian Manifesto: “These two world views stand as totals in complete antithesis to each other in content and also in their natural results.
“We must never forget that the humanist position is an exclusivist, closed system which shuts out all contending viewpoints — especially if these views teach anything other than relative values and standards. Anything which presents absolute truth, values or standards is quite rightly seen by the humanists to be a total denial of the humanistic position.”
So parents have a lot of serious thinking to do here. Will they abandon their children to the wolves in the public school system? Some may feel called to do so. But many may well need to look seriously at some other options — before it is too late.
Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com