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The State of Schools in American Perception: From Dissatisfaction to Religious Necessity May 25, 2007

Posted by Daniel Downs in Bible, creationism, education, freedom, Freedom of Religion, God, government, Intelligent Design, law, morality, news, politics, prayer, public schools, religion.

When it comes to education, over 82% of Americans still send their kids to public school. So why are Americans not happy with public education? Socialism may not be such a good thing, but socialism does seem to be the problem. As will be shown, secularism, an offshoot of American socialism and humanism, is the problem.

According to the most recent Gallup Polls, 52% say they are very dissatisfied with America’s education, and only 37% are only somewhat satisfied. The educational reform No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is not the reason for the negativity about public schooling. If most Americans really understood NCLB, they would probably feel something is finally being done about our educational problems. The dissatisfaction is not about school safety either. For only about a third voiced any concern about school security. More emphasis on academics does not appear to be a major problem. Only between 30% and 40% of Americans believe there is not enough emphasis on the 3Rs, History, Science, Health, Arts, and Foreign Languages. Although a significant number of people think better teachers are needed.

So why then are so many Americans dissatisfied with American schools? The answer may surprise you, but the real problem with America’s public schools is the lack of religion. Sixty percent (60%) said they believed America has too little religion in its public schools. The survey does not give us any clear idea of what Americans mean by it. However, over 92% think prayer should be allowed and over 76% would support a constitutional amendment allowing voluntary prayer in state-run schools. It gets even better. Most Americans think creationism and intelligent design should be taught along with evolution in science class. Fifty-four percent (54%) were for creationism, 22% were opposed, and 23% were unsure. Concerning intelligent design, 43% favored it, 21% were opposed, and 35% were uncertain. The relative large number of people who were uncertain indicates insufficient knowledge about the issue.

It is encouraging to see that most Americans hold to at least some of the core views and values held by our predecessors at our nation’s founding. Early Americans debated not about whether religion should be taught but rather who should be responsible for teaching it to America’s school children. The issue was not a conflict of church versus state. It was one between federal and state governments, which also extended to state versus local jurisdiction. The outcome of the debate was defined by Congress in the Northwest Ordinance. This legislation regulated the creation of territories, states and local communities. The Ordinance specified land to be set aside for community schools in which religion would be taught among other subjects. Notice, the same Congress that established our nation and constitutional form of governments also authorized public schools–not Sunday Schools–to teach religion. Why? Because a free self-governing people require the moral understanding and discipline only religion adequately provides.

What kind of religion did early Americans propose? Most believed biblical religion was the best of all possible religions. When early Americans spoke of religions they usually meant Christian denominations such as Congregationalist, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Catholics, and the like. However, they often included in their discussions discussed the religions of Buddhists, Mohammedans or Muslims and Jews. Complementing a pluralist view, many early American leaders held to a type of religious universalism. They believed all world religions taught the same basic morality. The only real difference was the extent each religion comprehended the moral laws of human nature. Most, if not all, early Americans thought Christianity had obtained the fullest understanding both by revelation and by reason of the divinely created moral law in human nature and human society. (For more on early American views concerning education and religion read Thoughts upon the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic written in 1786 by Benjamin Rush.)

Why do modern Americans think more religion is needed in public education and what kind of religion do they propose? Again, a clear answer is not found in the Gallup Polls. It is reasonable to assume most Americans still agree with the founders and their views. For example, nearly 70% say America is a Christian nation, according to a Pew survey. Most Americans (59%) see religion is losing its influence in society. They regard it as a bad trend. Only 34% of Americans think the public influence of religion is increasing, and the majority (62%) says it is a good thing. The importance of religion’s public influence goes back to the historical necessity of moral discipline. It is a prerequisite to living in a free self-governing society. While 71% of Americans want more religion in the public square, 51% want more religious influence in political or law-making affairs. When we consider the fact that early America was dominated by Puritan ideals and that Puritans were called evangelicals, it should be less difficult to understand why 60% of evangelicals still believe the Bible should be the most important influence in shaping laws. The same is generally true for most Protestants but oddly enough not for Catholics and certainly not for liberal Protestants. Put in perspective, the majority of Americans (63%) say the ‘will of the people’ (law of consensus) should be the most important influence in law, while only 32% say it should be biblical precepts and biblical law.

Now, we have a paradox. Americans say they want more religious freedom. They want more religious influence in schools and in society including government, but Americans also say they do not want social law to be shaped by that influence. If by religious influence Americans mean its affects on people in schools and government some of whom make legal decisions, they still hold to the founding ideals. However, early American law reflected biblical precedents. Why? Because they applied the moral ideals and laws derived from the Bible to laws governing human behavior in society. It is likely, therefore, that what most Americans mean when they say they want more religion in society, government, and education is more of religion’s moral influence in all aspect of life. (Read Biblical Law in America by John W. Welch.)

If so, the hope for America’s future is much brighter than imagined, one in which life, liberty, equity, equality, prosperity, and happiness may remain supreme. The one obstruction to fully realizing this hope is like minded leaders. If Americans will only insist on having moral leaders of this kind, leaders who genuinely support religion and morality will arise to the demand, but Americans will also have vote them into office at local, state, and national levels of government. When America do, restoring religion to public education will then be possible.

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1. in2thefray - June 4, 2007

The initial cure will be continued school choice. Vouchers and charter schools are to be included in this. What it amounts to is that the people have to accept the responsibility. The schools meaning the unions and left are not going to yield to democracy. With that said I’m not advocating armed revolt. School choice etc. On a side note I heard the kid that won the national spelling bee was home schooled..go figure.

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