Recently I read a post by an Atheist mom who is from my home state of New Jersey. In her article, she mentions concerns over her son being taught “God Bless America” and the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Underneath these concerns lies her fear that he is going to learn that there is only One True God when she wants him to be open to all religions. Though her beliefs are drastically different than mine, what we share in common is a desire for our children to be raised according to our values.
If she, as an Atheist, is concerned that the very secular public school may teach her child things she doesn’t agree with, how much more should Christian mothers be concerned about the philosophies our children are being taught there? Besides secular entertainment, secular education is the biggest pipeline through which humanist ideas are fed to our kids. Even so, parents who don’t believe in God become upset at the mere mention of His name in morning announcements or in choral performances.
In an unrelated article, an elementary school in Haddon Heights, New Jersey received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union threatening legal action unless they cease from saying “God Bless America” after the morning pledge. The ACLU claimed that by reciting the phrase daily and invoking God’s blessing, it supposedly legitimizes one religion over another, provoking negative attitudes against atheists. The school district caved and has agreed to break their 10 year tradition which began after September 11th in honor of the victims.
This is the same kind of group that effectively ended prayer and Bible reading in school some 50 years ago, and eventually the teaching of Creationism and public team prayers before sports games. Whether they are in fact, actually offended, is not really the issue here. The point is that they did something about it. Christian parents, who rightfully have more to be offended by, should rise up and do something! Everyone has the right to believe whatever they wish, but they should acknowledge that schools also have the right to teach what they want, and if they don’t agree with it perhaps this is not the kind of place they should put their children in to learn.
Since public schools are increasingly becoming the major vehicle to promote secular beliefs, Christian parents have two choices: either remove their children from this system of education and teach them at home or enroll them in private school, or accept that keeping them in this type of environment means fighting long and hard against opposing worldviews. In Chapter 1 of my book Bucking The System: Reclaiming Our Children’s Minds For Christ, I discuss how various sets of beliefs clash in the educational arena and how proponents of other views have correctly understood that education is the battleground for their particular worldview. This is something that Christians are lagging behind in knowledge of. Here is an excerpt:
One of the reasons we are losing the culture war is because many of us do not understand how critical Christian education is, in the evangelism and discipleship of the next generation. Muslims acknowledge the importance of education in the conversion of young people to Islam. Sheikh Ahmad Al Katani, in an interview on the Al Jazeera television network, responded to the fact that six million African Muslims are being converted to Christianity each year. He said, “You have to build the worshipper before you build the mosque. Schools should be built first, which are the primary source of spreading Islam and to protect the Muslim… We are proud of the mosque, but had we used the money to build a school, it would have been a lot more beneficial.” The Sheikh realized that the best way to counteract the Christian influence on Muslims was to establish schools rooted in the Islamic faith. What was the reason for the millions of converts in the first place? Not large evangelistic crusades, but Christian education!
As Christian parents, are we diligently “building the worshipper” in our kids first? Of course, there is no 100% guarantee that they will be strong, committed followers of Christ, but they have a much better chance if we are shaping their views according to God’s Word, instead of letting a secular educational system do the teaching! Like the mom who is an Atheist and fears the influence of a few scattered references to God in the classroom despite her example at home, let us be wary of the godless influences our children come under every day at school.