BY 2050, ALMOST ONE-THIRD of the population of the United States will be older than 60 years old. Economists ask, “What does an aging population mean for a nation’s productivity, innovation, and savings?” What is ignored is the effect of our aging population on fundamental Christian beliefs. Since the founding of America and its framers, who espoused godliness and moral living with Christianity, there has been an effort by reformists, now called progressives, to remove any semblance of Christianity from society. America’s public educational system is the battleground for the minds of our youth. Governmental education seeks to abolish and expunge any Christian expression by treating it as profanity. How did this all begin?
EARLY AMERICAN EDUCATION
Early American education was largely a private issue. Education was under the control of the church. America’s oldest universities were started by preachers and churches. Harvard was founded in 1636 by the Puritans.
The university’s “Rules and Precepts” stated: “Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life and therefore lay Christ at the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”
Harvard’s original seal states upon it, “Truth for Christ and the Church.” Yale was established in 1701 with a stated goal that “every student shall consider the main end of his study to wit to know God in Jesus Christ and answerably to lead a godly, sober life.” William and Mary was founded to supply the church of Virginia “with a seminary of ministers” that the “Christian faith may be propagated.” John Knox Witherspoon was a Scots Presbyterian minister and a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Jersey. Because of him, Princeton became known as the seedbed of revolution. Princeton had as one of its founding statements, “Cursed is all learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.” Columbia, previously known as King’s College, had as its purpose to “inculcate upon students’ tender minds the great principles of Christianity and morality.”
At the time of American independence, the best-selling book was the Bible. The second most popular book was John Cotton’s Spiritual Milk for Babes, the first children’s book published in America. How things did quickly change from a God-fearing, Jesus-loving society to a nation accepting an atheist like John Dewey, who was called “the architect of modern education.” Dewey would say, “There is no God, and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion.”
EDUCATION AND THE CONSTITUTION
The matter of education was left to the states by the Founding Fathers. The subject of education is absent from the body of the Constitution of the United States. The Tenth Amendment gave the states power to handle education.
The Tenth Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Government-controlled education began in Boston in 1817. Lobbyists contended that poor families were unable to afford private schooling for their children. Public school advocates pushed for a publicly funded school system in lieu of the fact that 96 percent of Boston’s children were in school, even though there were no truancy laws. The battle raged on for over 30 years as public school advocates persisted toward a “tax-supported, publicly controlled and directed, nonsectarian common school system.” In the 1850s, the decentralized educational system that demonstrated great results was affected by the governmental schools that began to wipe out sponsors who could not simultaneously support them while paying taxes to support the public school system. The idea that a governmental school would increase enrollment and become a safety net so that poor children could go to school turned out to be the first step in removing Christian influence in education. Governmental education funded by tax dollars gradually achieved its goal of removing religious education and replaced it with humanism. The effort to systematically destroy Christian influence in education initially came from Horace Mann. His goal of centralizing education became a reality through his efforts to establish the Massachusetts Board of Education. Mann supported the idea of social engineering. He believed that the governmental schools would provide the mechanism to create a society in which crimes would be eliminated. It was during Mann’s tenure that the seeds of secularism were planted in the educational system, and the idea of religious instruction would be left to the parents at home.
LAWS OF CHANGE
The landmark decision by the Supreme Court in the case of Everson v. Board of Education (1947) opened wide the door for public schools to strip Christianity from public schools. The case was the result of Arch Everson filing a lawsuit against Ewing Twp to prevent state taxes from being used to transport parochial students to their Catholic school in Trenton, New Jersey. Justice Hugo Black took Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation” statement out of context and gave it its first precedent for future church and state jurisprudence. Black claimed the First Amendment “has erected a wall between church and state. That must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” This meant that from that day forward, the separation of church and state would be applied to all aspects of government, not just the federal level. Several key factors in Justice Black’s background may have inclined him to rule unfavorably against religion. It is a known fact that Justice Black was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was not a practicing Christian, and the evidence shows that he did not believe in the supernatural aspects of Christianity. This evidence supports a conclusion that Justice Black was prejudiced against religion in his decision in Everson v. Board of Education and engaged in judicial activism.
WALL OF SEPARATION
The Danbury Baptist Association wrote to President Thomas Jefferson in 1801, and in the president’s reply, he coined the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state” in assuring the Baptists that government would not interfere with their religious freedoms recently guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The phrase, “a wall of separation between church and state,” cannot be found in the Constitution or any other founding documents. Justice Black made a decision that was based on a quote from the response letter Jefferson wrote back to Danbury Baptist Association.
What the First Amendment says is: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers knew the intension of the First Amendment was simply to prevent the establishment of a single denomination. The letter sent to Jefferson by Danbury expressed their concern that the guarantee of the “free exercise of religion” appeared in the First Amendment. To them, this suggested that the right to religious freedom was a government-granted right rather than a God-granted right. Their concern, as should be ours, was that someday the government might try to regulate religious expression. A court declared in 1799: “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the stablished religion; and all its sects and denominations of Christians are placed on the same and equal footing.”
The misapplication and distortion by Justice Black of Jefferson’s response phrase “a wall of separation between church and state” gave license to all in government to use the new philosophy of the court to abolish Christianity from the public sector. The eight words within Jefferson’s letter to Danbury have become a mantra often repeated enough for the masses to believe it as though this is what the founders desired. The unconstitutional phrase was used successfully in the case of Engel v. Vitale - the case that struck down school prayer. The court also redefined the word church in their ruling. Up until 1962, the word church, as used in the phrase “separation of church and state,” was defined to mean a federally established denomination. From 1962, the word church would now mean “a religious activity in public.” Prayer was considered an activity in public and, therefore, deemed unconstitutional based on the new meaning. The meaning of the First Amendment was altered by the courts. Within a year after prayer was successfully removed from schools by the court, two more cases also eliminated Bible reading, Bible classes, and instruction. This was a great departure from our founders.
Christian education was replaced with humanism and psychology. Have the changes in our schools helped our society? Is moral evolution working to improve humanity, or has it been our demise in America? We will continue our discussion on education next month. Satan knows that if he can get the minds of our youth while they are impressionable, he can then plant seeds of doubt and foster rebellion against Christianity.
The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”