Few remember today that education in America began with Christianity. The Puritans in Massachusetts passed the Satan Deluder Act in order to establish public schools that could teach their children to read. The Puritans believed that children who could read the Bible would be less vulnerable to the devil.
As is often the case, institutions once established to do good eventually do evil. William F. Buckley, in his breakout work “God and Man at Yale,” documented the decline of Christian values in Yale during the 1950s. Although Yale was a private school founded as a religious college, Buckley noted in great detail how Yale was drifting away from Christianity and toward a position of hostility to religion.
Fueled by a leftist cultural advance, in the 70 years since his book’s publication, the phenomenon Buckley noted has spread into public education. Much of the last half-century in education has been filled with an all-out assault against Christianity and traditional Western and Christian moral values.
Largely, the leftists have won, and Christianity has lost. Traditional values have been largely expunged from the schoolyard.
Voluntary student-led prayer and prayers before commencements and football games have been silenced. School nativities have been dismantled. The Ten Commandments have been obliterated from classroom walls. The use of the phrase “Christmas Break” (literally the “reason for the season”) has been usurped and replaced on academic calendars. Even moments of silence and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance have been assaulted by leftists in education.
With few surviving vestiges of the Christian undergirding on which our educational system was built, modern leftists have worked to replace Christianity with the golden calf of race.
Critical race theory treats kids not as children of God with equal worth but as oppressors and oppressed. Morality under critical race theory is not determined by a universal set of principles and ethics; rather, it is determined by a combination of identities that bring with them a set of arbitrary entitlements and privileges.
Nothing is eternal or true in CRT; there is only a superficial fixation on skin color. Christianity and critical race theory are mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed. They cannot exist together as moral systems. Now, we must choose what moral system the education of our children will be built upon.
To paraphrase Pascal, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” Education is no different. The educational system, like the people that form it, has a God-shaped vacuum in its heart. If the vacuum is not filled by God, it will be filled with a false idol like CRT.
Some school districts like Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, have moved overwhelmingly to expel CRT from their curricula, and while this should be applauded, it is not enough. Expelling CRT only expels the woke left’s agenda de jure. CRT will take another form or the woke left will move (as it always does) to another cause.
The only antidote to CRT and to whatever the woke left concocts next is Christianity. Christians, conservatives, classical liberals and those who value the great Christian tradition of the West must work with the same verve and persistence that the proponents of CRT do.
Some inroads have been made to restore Christianity’s status in public education. Several cases that could be used incrementally to restore the status of Christianity in public schools are being considered by the Supreme Court this term.
Texas, this past summer, created avenues for some schoolhouses to display donated signs bearing the national motto, “In God We Trust.”
A top priority of all state legislatures should be the “Biblical studies” bill proposed in Florida recently. Florida’s bill would allow for students to take, as an elective, a course that focuses on the Bible as an influential document in American history, philosophy and government.
Without any major court decisions or legislative reforms, even the smallest of school districts should remember they have the power to make an impact.
The effort to expel CRT and return Christian morality to the classroom can begin at the local level. School districts can direct their history courses to focus on the documents with the largest Christian influence and impact on America, including the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address and the “I Have a Dream” speech.
School districts can direct their music, art and English programs to teach the many spirituals sung by slaves on the underground railroad, the tremendous canon of religious renaissance art and the works of Shakespeare, Steinbeck and C.S. Lewis, texts laden with biblical allusions.
Despite the recent Washington Post headline proclaiming, “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They Don’t,” Carroll ISD proves that parents and school districts have the power (and the right) to retake control of their children’s education.
The Washington Post and the proponents of CRT must not forget that we can choose whatever moral system we like for our children.
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