When Education is Opposed to Truth

This case of denying a teacher’s First Amendment rights is worth following for anyone who considers the Bible to be God’s Word. A public school is attempting to discipline a well-liked, award-winning teacher for expressing personal views that contradict the politically-correct understanding of gay marriage. He did not express these views during school hours, nor even at school or in a school-related forum. He expressed them on Facebook, which regularly asks me the question, “What’s on your mind?” Whose mind? My mind. An answer to that question, on a social forum like Facebook, without any connection to the school, seems to be just what the speech section of the First Amendment was meant to protect. Those who argue otherwise are showing totalitarian, statist tendencies as well as rank intolerance for diverse points of view.

Now, if the school were not an arm of the government, but a private school instead, then the teacher would be subject to the terms of his employment contract. The Bill of Rights, including the protection of free speech, is not meant to limit the behavior of private citizens or employers. It’s meant to limit the behavior of government, in order to protect the innate rights of individuals.

It’s ultimately the mother and father’s responsibility to teach their children, but the civil government has undertaken this responsibility (among many others) because of its interest in future generations. Unfortunately, the civil government is in no position to teach all that children need to learn. In the United States, government is also prohibited by the First Amendment from teaching that a particular religion is truth. That’s a good thing as far as law, order and justice are concerned, but it means that government education is necessarily inadequate. Most people don’t understand this inadequacy, though, concluding that religious instruction is inessential to a complete education. This conclusion could not be more wrong.

This case illustrates another shortcoming of public education. Though it is supposed to reflect the mores of society in general without favoring one tradition over another, the inevitable compromise will not only impoverish the education program, but also blur the basis on which teachers may be disciplined. Opportunistic idealogues will leap into the breach in an effort to impose their own views upon society through the influence of government. That’s what’s being attempted in this case, leaving the destruction of this individual’s First Amendment right and his teaching career as collateral damage.

The solution for Christians is to establish and support our own schools. We can use a curriculum in harmony with God’s Word, and we will be free to run the schools in accord with the principles of our faith. If our statist neighbors succeed in destroying the protections of the First Amendment, our schools would have to close. In that case, Christian education would have to proceed in the home, and maybe even behind closed doors. (It’s happened before, under other statist regimes.) But for now, the best solution is to support our own Christian schools.

4 thoughts on “When Education is Opposed to Truth

  1. I would change your comment, “The solution for Christians is to establish and support our own schools,” to, “A solution…”

    Another obvious answer is homeschooling.

    How about some sort of non church based private schooling? I realize this is often cost prohibitive, but there are also often scholarships available for families who need assistance.

    Some states also allow charter schools, some of which have a bit of wiggle room to promote a certain world view over another, and whose world views will correspond more or less closely to those of Christian parents.

    How about those schools set up by a group of business owners to fill a need in a particular community?

    And for some, even the local public schools are a good options. In our situation, although not perfect, this has become a good option.

    The churches here tossed around the idea of a parish school at various times, but in a small community the support of local schools is very strong among church membership. This is my human wisdom, which I realize is not perfect, but I think it would take years of healing to repair potential damage to the congregations if a Christian Day School was “forced through.” And I do believe it would have to be forced, if it were to be instituted. A very small number of people would be in favor of such a move.

    The other option in this situation is to spend years raising awareness and speaking out about the advantages of A Christian education. And few pastors have the luxury to make any “non-Word and Sacrament” issue a focus of his ministry.

    I in no way mean to tear down the idea of Christian elementary schools, but I also don’t want to let stand an idea that they are the only perfect solution. After all, like everything else in this sinful world, they also are not perfect.

  2. I agree, Mary. When I say “Christian schools” I’m not only thinking about parochial Christian day schools. We have a Christian school in our home, as you know. Other groups of Christians from different parishes might band together to support a school too. The other alternatives you mention might be workable in certain situations, but my first concern is that the Christian doctrine should never be subject to compromise. If it were, the resulting arrangement would have some of the same drawbacks we already see in public school systems. The only way to avoid that problem is for the association that supports the school to be committed to a single Christian confession. So the most practical and common examples would be home schools and parish schools. Of course, that doesn’t mean these schools will be without any problems, but at least it will be possible to impart a truly complete education.

    As a product of the public school system myself, I admire your commitment first to home-school your children, and now to complete and correct their public school education by supplementing it at home. It takes constant dedication either way, and great vigilance too. May God bless your work as “the mom” in your household.

  3. I don’t disagree with you, Jesse, but I think I was unclear. I see Christian education as the “one thing needful,” which will always happen primarily in the home, or as an offshoot of the home (as in a parochial school setting). I totally agree that a homeschool is a Christian school of sorts. Definitely a Christian educational institution, call it school or whatever.

    And as a product of parochial church schools, I’ve often said that I learned way more Bible stories and passages, and hymn verses and even liturgy than I was ever able to teach my kids at home. I think (hope) from a doctrinal understanding point of view, we have accomplished almost as much here at home, but the breath of familiarity with the Bible and bible verses is just not as extensive in my kids as that with which I was blessed.

    But not all education is Christian education. Some is training for life, which, of course includes a Christian vocational outlook, but can be taught by anyone. It’s best of course, when the youth exposed to such teaching after they are old enough to discern differences and parents don’t have to be playing defense. (As I feel like we do sometimes with the youngest ones in public school.)

    But whether in a public school or private school of whatever bent, or home school or church school, the emphasis on religion and content of the religious training ought to still come from the parents. And that leads to my primary problem with church based parochial schools. The impetus so often comes from the church or the church hierarchy and the parents end up floating along with it in the same way they often float with public school.

    Although the spiritual content is 100% better in the church based school, the abdicating of responsibility that often goes along with church based parochial education is dangerous from a spiritual and cultural perspective. I mean, when the fathers and mothers no longer take the forefront in their children’s Christian training, it sets the tone for the entire familial structure and roles. And when the Father’s abdicate their primary role, that is contrary to God’s Word, even if the kids learn plenty of Christian doctrine. The societal structure that God describes in Scripture is replaced with an almost socialist type religious training. “We know you won’t do it well enough, so we’re going to do it for you.” Or “you don’t really want all this bother, we’ll take it over.” etc.

    (I guess I’m not done yet…sorry,…one more thing…a synopsis, perhaps?) Education could perhaps be said to be dividable into “those things necessary for Salvation,” and “those things necessary for temporal life.” It’s preferable for the parent to handle the Salvation end of things and ask someone else to help with the life end of things; than to ask someone to do both, and then think he or she no longer has to participate in either.

    Ideally a parent could ask for help with the spiritual thing and still feel responsible, but its not what I generally see. I see parents involved in everything from video slide shows, to fund raisers, to sporting events, to being a reading buddy, to whatever. But when parents help with all these things, there is even less time for a family to be a family and therefore address any spiritual concerns. Or worse yet, even know that such concerns exist.

    Does that make any sense? So unless those parish schools are set up in a way to consciously address the dangers of the parents losing touch with their kids’ religious training, those schools are only effecting part of the problem, and might even be adding a different one.

    Really, Im not trying to argue against Christian church schools. (Why do I always end up feeling like I’m arguing…Were my parents right when they said I was by nature argumentative? Yikes!)

    But I’m only trying to say that parental involvement in the religious training of their child(ren) and also specific tools, or checks and balances, to constantly remind the parents of their particular responsibility toward their child(ren) must always be part of the deal.

  4. Thanks for your very thoughtful response. It really deserves more visibility than a comment on the Plucked Chicken. As we consider the ramifications and possibility of starting a parish school in The Dalles, I’d like to include your observations on the pitfall of disconnecting parents from active involvement in the spiritual training of their own children.

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