Today I am addressing faith and public education, and I hope to show how the latter often serves to undermine the faith of our children. Right out the hatch, this is an emotional and controversial topic and with good reason. Institutions that hold the obligation to pass knowledge and truth to the next generation exist to reach us at our core. So I am going to start at the seat of our core, conscience.
Conscience at the time of our Nation’s founding was defined as Internal…judgment of right and wrong; or the faculty, power or principle within us, which decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condemns them…Webster 1828
This is important because the idea of the right of conscience lay in the heart of our nation’s founding and in determining a just form of constitutional government.
James Madison wrote an essay called “Property” which was circulated through a national paper of the times. In it, he defines property and explains the proper role of a just government with respect to an individual’s property. Foremost on this property list is an individual’s “conscience” to which he ascribes it “the most sacred of all property.” He illustrates that “other property possessions depend in part on “positive law,” but states that “the exercise of that (meaning conscience) is different in that it’s “a natural and unalienable right.” He emphasizes that government “can give no title to neither invade a man’s conscience “nor” withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.” He charges that any government that directly or indirectly violates the property which individuals have in their opinions (free speech), their religion (morality), their persons (rights), and their faculties (conscience); is not a pattern for the United States and is not a just government. He concludes that the protection of these (free speech, morality, rights, and conscience), is alone the end of just Government.
It is important to note also that “moral” was culturally and legally understood as the exercise of conscience in guiding the external conduct of the individual and “applies to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined.” Webster 1828. Thus, the two were connected.
Because conscience is property and man has been endowed with it by His Creator (Declaration language), it can be assumed as something we must steward, and stewardship implies an obligation by the individual. As property, it is also understood that in individuals lies the power to neglect or oppress, pervert, and even destroy. And although all come into this world in possession of this faculty, it remains largely informed by our environment, via parents, religion, school, culture, or other.
As women of Faith, we understand the moral imperative of guiding our little one’s hearts and minds to the assenting of truth and our major role as mother is to carefully train, nurture, and guard over our children’s faculty of conscience as a child’s morality is developing. We remain on the same page as our founding forbears.
I think we could all agree on the cultural moral invasion that incessantly lures upon our youth, and I think we understand the negative peer influences that can exist at school, but do we realize the extent of how the child’s education itself in public school serves as the child’s major source of conscience misinforming, neglect, oppression, and even destruction, and that schools are not the neutral institutions they claim to be?
Our public school system is the sieve most American youth have to legally pass through during their formative years. Legal assumptions, language, standards, and doctrine defined or upheld in our Supreme Court directly and indirectly effect the operation of schools from administration to curriculum. This makes sense because public schools are legal institutions governed by law. It follows that to understand modern public education, an understanding of the legal reality in which it now operates is essential.
The Supreme court in the last hundred years or so has exchanged legal assumptions, originally based on a vertical recognition and upholding of God’s moral authority, for modern legal theory based technically on this horizontal plane which relies on man’s authority and limited to what is observable, and a whole reliance on what is supposedly scientifically not even proven, but probable. A whole course or more could be given on this subject, but I’ve tried to briefly summarize a few key points.
In Teach the Children, Neil Flinders explains some of the major legal effects. First, was the Courts’ “abandoned idea of a constitutional recognition of a Deity that bestowed upon man inalienable rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.” From this rejection, two significant legal doctrines have arisen. First that “rights are to be perceived as based in government, not God, and hence subject to the Court’s interpretive protection,” and the court also changed what was accepted as permissible evidence essentially to only that which can be observable by man or scientifically explained. This rendered old, definitions used in founding documents and previous law useless or obsolete, so in trying to establish standards for a nontheistic legal basis for court consensus and continuity, it had to modify its contextual framework, which of course would also result in modifications of word definitions. Words like equality are now defined not in terms of all men are of equal value individually in the eyes of God, but “in terms of tangible possessions or government granted privileges. “Natural law” is no longer defined as allegiance to a higher, theistically based set of principles or laws—natural law is now considered compliance with social consent, existing law, or custom.” And going back to the word “conscience,” it is no longer legal, nor its former role recognized as a connection of obligation between man (and this would have included the court) and Higher Law, but “considered simply the individual’s reflection or social consensus.
In short, people of faith now stand in many ways legally disadvantaged because literally our Supernatural theistic views do not appear to legally exist.
So what begins in the courtroom ends in the classroom. It isn’t a new claim that public schools are legally godless institutions (and many may argue they should be), but because schools, like the courts, didn’t used to be Godless, there remain theistic vestiges in them. These vestiges kind of lull much of the public, which by the way are a theistic majority, into a false security where undeserved trust is often placed into public education. In addition, we often know personally many of the people who are directly involved with our youth. And thankfully, these are the ones who have direct contact with our children, are people we can trust, and one reason why local control is so important. But there are active forces unseen by the public in education like curriculum producers, test companies, behavioral specialists, groups, committees, organizations, individuals, etc., that produce and dictate much of the educational material that impact instruction. In an opaque process they have systematically worked to remove any remaining theistic vestiges while creating new educational assumptions. They are not like the religious populace majority, but are in opposition to it, and if you untangle the institutional web, and individual connections, you’ll find far leftist, secular humanist, and sexually progressive groups in control. Educational institutions like our courts have been and still are undergoing this systematic theistic unweaving.
This is accomplished not by accident or slow cultural drift, but by careful and deliberate strategy launched in combination by the above-mentioned group-types as they have obtained legal sanction almost every step of the way. (See the work of Felix Wittmer, Judith A Reisman, and B.K. Eakman. A Wikipedia analysis of the Scopes trial discloses its deliberateness.) Dishonest use of language purposely changed between generations is one classic technique. Also take note of the words “social consensus,” because this is also a root of their success and active in public schools. Words in education like “constructivist,” “collaborative,” and “cooperative learning” sound civil enough, but they are methods used purposefully in education to train our youth to submit to social consensus. It pushes what’s agreed upon as if it were truth. The Latin root of consensus actually means, “feel together.” You see it is the process, not the outcome, that is the important factor. The main rule is that everyone has to participate, and consensus a reached. The group may not have constructed a truth, but at least everyone feels good about it. It can be a form of group manipulation. In college, I had to read a 300 +/- page book on these methods. At the time, I could not wrap my brain around the ridiculous detail of process, of what I thought the purpose was just in helping the children to work together. I was naïve. Evidence that this teaching has been largely successful is that those who stand rigid in truth are often labeled divisive. To the public, this feels bad. The appeal is to feeling, not logic or reason. Groups in opposition to truth need to work constantly in building a strong (or at least the appearance of) social consensus, and always push and pull law so as to gain social and legal authority in the matter, thus legitimizing falsehood.
What is included and excluded in education is also telling. I find it astounding that while comprehensive, an educational term meaning K-12 “sex education” is vigorously accepted and pushed as essential in modern education, while truths of our nation’s founding and principles of liberty are largely neglected. What is the logical premise for comprehensive sex ed? Think about this for a moment, the idea that somehow man had yet to figure this one out. All societies at large have successfully kept at bay negative social, economic, and health consequences by reserving procreation to the natural family. Furthermore, there has never been a time in history when man has stopped procreating nor has there ever been some epidemic public ignorance where knowledge of the act has been lost. Compare that to the idea of a comprehensive (K-12) curriculum of liberty and ask why this has this been largely abandoned. It used to be carefully tended to. Consider, the securing of liberty was not something easily figured out and obtained by man, but is historically rare and an anomaly in man’s recorded existence. By using legal methods of observation and quantifiable evidence, it is easily determined the negative social, economic, and health results of the former. The real intent of education is exposed by including one and excluding the other; it is neither logical, nor reasonable, nor is it neutral, therefore it must really be moral.
There is an active effort in parts of our society working to demoralize our children and pervert conscience while over sexualizing them. Worse, it appears modern education desires greatly to follow suit. Whenever you hear “comprehensive sex education” beware, and get your child as far away as possible. I’ll briefly acquaint you with SIECUS, Sexual Information and Education of the United States. The tangled web of groups, individuals, and organizations behind SIECUS would nauseate most parents. This tax-funded group has formed national educational standards for sexual education curriculum. Self- touch, exploration, and homosexuality are introduced in primary grades, and masturbation and safe sex methods for adolescence where they can sexually fulfill one another without intercourse are all part of the curriculum. All parents should read SEICUS’s position statements and the curriculum itself. Once children and youth get repeated exposure to this type of moral shaping, it is not easily undone.
The material is disturbing enough, you can view it for yourself online, but they have been targeting UT, and pressuring us toward implementing their comprehensive program for a long time; and I think we have recently caved on this one; I need an update. They abhor Utah’s “abstinence only/responsible choices” state-created material. Each state is individually tracked by SIECUS, whether or not their curriculum is used. They periodically issue reports on each individual state. Each state report in addition to statistics includes a list of organizations that oppose their curriculum, (WOW should be on there), those for it, and media outlets with contact information. So, Utah does exceptionally well, somewhere within the top 5 of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and actual knowledge about such topics. One statistic that stood out on their 2011 document for UT was the number of AIDs infections age 19—24. Utah had 0 per 100,000. Compare that to the national average of 30 per 100,000. States which have fully implemented their curriculum do not fare so well. Where is the logic? They should be looking to Utah for a model, yet they pressure Utah to conform to theirs. But that’s the point; they are masters at confusing the logic.
Another false claim by schools is that they remain neutral in the God arena, but is it even possible to position neutrally on something that doesn’t legally exist or is straightway banned? Once an institution abandons a theistic morality, there are gaping holes, or moral vacuums, now attracting all types of counter conscience and morality. Philosophies like moral relativism are concocted, tried, and fitted, then validated by claims of social consensus, along with frameworks built to make up the gaping holes. Arbitrarily, you may end up with laws or curriculum that aligns with theistic morality, but it is just as possible that you don’t; this is double-minded government and citizenry in action. Such a foundation will never build a strong, secure, just, or protective government or citizenry, but a weakened one. The reality is our national foundation once steadfast, and purpose-filled, where protections of rights were secure, now rests on sand and subject to constant flux by individuals or groups, ideas or force, subject to random and arbitrary protection, making our inalienable rights insecure.
Parents and grandparents must educate themselves so as to cut through all this sophistication. Then these skills need to be passed onto our children. WOW can help parents in this area by suggesting and possibly endorsing, principled resources that can assist with this and help equip citizens to unify and rally for their protections.
In education, a first start is in learning the history of the United States’ founding, which is moral and theistic, using primary source documents which are full of truths. I was not taught this in my public school education, but was led to it later. Realizing the waste of it not being taught made me feel so cheated, underserved, and angry, but it also served as a turning point, opening my mind to the possibility of educational malpractice. This area of study will not undermine or confuse a child’s conscience or morality, but enlighten it. Being in alignment with WOW’s principles, one direction WOW could take, as well as parents, grandparents, and citizens, is in working to inform and influence local or state school boards and the legislature in adopting a comprehensive curriculum that teaches our national heritage based in founding documents, definitions, and primary sources .
When grounded in truth, our reason cannot be easily confused, nor our conscience be hardened or misinformed. As people of faith, we have been handed the means to do this. The Bible gives the formula. You have to keep in mind three things, and this also needs to be taught to every child of faith: Origin, Purpose, and Boundaries. WOW’s 14 principles actually summarize proper Origin, Purpose, and Boundaries. Anything else is a counterfeit idea and leads a population to double-mindedness if it is not recognized and exposed. Once you start applying an analysis of origin, purpose, and boundaries in any academic subject, you will discover what is or isn’t theistically neutral. Education has filled the theistic moral void, or vacuum with its own construction of origins, purpose, and boundaries, this is where neutrality ends.
For lack of time, I’ll throw out an obvious example, Darwin’s theory of evolution-open season on me. How many have had their faith undermined permanently by this one? Or has this theory promoted a double-minded citizenry? How many of us have been asked about this one from a child? Were you prepared to place the child on solid ground with your answer? Could a simple teaching of origin, purpose, and boundaries expose the counterfeit? What about teaching the horrific outcomes this counterfeit idea helped to perpetuate in justifying atrocities committed in the holocaust and a perpetuation of denial of rights based on race? The science community at large is not neutral, and the predominant thinking is as represented in the Richard Dawkins Foundation Mission statement, which they say is, for Reason and Science to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism.
As a side note, two world wars, the revealed horrors of the holocaust, and various war crimes apparently scared the industrialized world into action, and the UN charter was initiated and ratified. Expressions of goodwill and peaceful relations between member states, the recognition of the dignity and worth of the human person, and the belief in fundamental human rights filled its preamble, which ironically clings to principles that are the fruit of a theistic belief, yet they stopped short of putting God in the charter, and Darwin’s ever-popular social philosophy of survival of the fittest was quietly swept into the dust bin of history.
Leaving the origin and purpose of language aside, I will conjecture that the boundary for language is truth. Thus the deliberate flux and confusion of definitions as stated previously is a form of perverting the language, but there is more subtlety in the employment of a language arts curriculum toward misinforming and hardening the conscience through the framing of questions. This is an extreme example, but it illustrates the method. One suggested English literature module for 9th grade went as follows: Students are to read “Mother of Monsters” by Guy de Maupassant. The story introduces a peasant girl who gets pregnant and boards up her stomach to hide the pregnancy. The result is a deformed child. She is offered money for the child to display in a type of freak show. She is offered more money by showmen and continues to have more deformed children in this manner, allowing her to live a “bourgeois” lifestyle. In the same story a “Parisian” woman does the same thing with corset to protect her figure, producing several deformed children.
Aside from this being extremely age-inappropriate reading, the students are instructed to write an essay explaining how the characters display their individuality. There are a lot of things to write about with a story such as this, but individuality? An assignment like this does not try to reason out any truth, but instead is demoralizing and confusing. Marketed curriculum (meaning not teacher produced) is filled with this sort of non-reasonable framing of questions, and so is the mandated testing.
Parents and Grandparents, you are the experts on your children. Don’t be intimidated by the legally-sanctioned experts. I’ve gone through University with a year of graduate work in education, and the truth is, much of what I was taught was just classroom management, child psychology, social development, lesson planning, and how to align it with state the framework mingled with some methodology, which some new wind of doctrine is always influencing. What I’m saying is there was no great mystery unveiled. The best way still for a child to develop reading skills is to read, read, and read some more and so on. When public schools intimate they are the experts, it probably means you’re making headway, because truth is powerful and does influence a conscience. Facts are pertinent and necessary when opposition stands before us, but we also need to stand firm in our faith, and say outright this is undermining my role and obligation to protect my child’s conscience and is interfering with their moral development. (Add that it’s your constitutional right and l have a few lawyers to back you up.)
Unfortunately, on February, 2007 a motion was proposed at a WOW board meeting to abandon its FBO face, and it was voted by a majority in favor. In this one vote WOW changed from theistic to non- theistic. This vote was not due to loss of fortune, possessions, torment or peril, but to political correctness. Is this the example we want to set for our children or grandchildren?
Our principles of faith were not given to us for private life, but for public life, and we cannot plagiarize by not acknowledging where our faith-based principles come from; we must acknowledge the Author. That is what this nation was founded on, the continuation of liberty must rely upon, and these are the principles WOW and the new board will advocate for, educate to, and celebrate.
A presentation written by Yvonne Averett and given at the October 26, 2013 WOW annual meeting. Yvonne Averett is a former California public school educator.