Religious Choice in Education Protects Liberty and Democracy - April 2003

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Dear Editor

Some letters to the editor have attempted to discredit the voices of tolerance, choice and democracy when it comes to "religion in education". These vary and include everything from faulty assumptions through to blatant lies and a smear campaign.

If we look at American public schools, since prayer was banned in 1962 (the Bible and the Ten Commandments were also outlawed), academic performance has plummeted to the point where American kids in public schools are the lowest academic achievers in the industrialised world, despite spending more tax dollars per head than any other nation. American public schools are swamped with assault, drugs, rapes and even school shootings. Clearly, resources are not the problem - philosophy, values and religion is. The most recent studies indicate a continuation of this trend - most American public school teachers claim to spend more time in crowd control than teaching. Some educationists have gone as far as to conclude, public schools don't work. The 150 year long experiment of state controlled education is a failure.

Education based on secularism, logically leads to secondary outcomes such as the promotion of evolution and explicit sex education and eventually the denial of the authority of the teacher and knowledge itself. Who is to say my knowledge is wrong and yours is right? As one philosopher said, "if God is dead, (or kicked out of public schools), then all things are permissible". Education, either implicitly or explicitly promotes and teaches values. However, values based on secularism taught in public schools, conflict with values taught in churches and homes. These opposing values have been a contributing factor to the "generation gap" - a gap, which many loving parents are deeply concerned about.

As a result of the intolerant secularists forcing God and religion out of American public schools, the Christian and other faith-based communities have been alienated to the extent that this secular "pluralistic" policy has led to unintended consequences. More than seven million American learners are now enrolled in superior Christian private and homeschools.

To indicate the contrast between the secular public school and Christian school, academic standards at private Christian schools are significantly higher and there is no record of a school shooting at a Christian private school. Research has even shown that homeschoolers are far more tolerant of others than public schoolers in their "secular humanistic and pluralistic" spaces. Once again the public school fails even in terms of its social engineering objectives of bringing about the "egalitarian society."

Fears of "extremist religious fanatics" may arise from September 11th, but people should be even more wary of secularism - millions more people have died at the hands of their own secular governments in the twentieth century than in all the so-called religious wars in the entire history of humanity. The beauty of Christianity is that it has moral absolutes, like the rule of the law. Hence, by nature it protects freedoms as all philosophies, dispensations and even civil rulers and authorities can be interrogated according to an absolute and eternal standard. This is a great defence of liberty. Nations impacted by the Gospel enjoy the most freedoms and civil liberties. Or as the Bible puts it, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". This is why secularists loathe Christianity - it hinders their social engineering campaigns.

Finally it is important to note that all education is religious. Knowledge has to have an epistemological (how do we know something is true) and ontological (the nature of reality) base. When opponents of religious freedom want the state to force a one-size-fits-all approach on everyone, regardless of and without respect for their religious practice, they are advocating religious indoctrination into a religion called "secular humanism". The Christian position is to oppose this state control, by allowing for local governance - i.e. the parents have the right to choose the religion of the school. This ultimately leads to diversity, which protects religious and other freedoms as well as democracy.

Sincerely,

Rob Mc Cafferty (M.Ed)

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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