By Warren E. Berkley
“The parents have a right to say that no teacher paid by their money shall rob their children of faith in God and send them back to their homes skeptical, or infidels, or agnostics, or atheists.” William Jennings Bryan, testifying at the Scopes trials, Dayton, Tenn. July 16, 1925.
If the famous attorney could be here today and make only limited observations into the public school system, I think he would repeat what he said in 1925, and perhaps with more urgency. The secularism that is spreading in our society has found an ally in the public schools. This doesn’t mean that every school, teacher or educational official has been taken captive, but the influence of secularism in our schools (and through our schools) cannot be disputed.’ Evidence follows .. .
1. Humanism isn’t just a philosophy to provoke intellectual discussion.2 It has become a political agenda, championed by the liberal left and advanced by many educators. Humanists believe “that man is just as much a natural phenomenon as an animal or plant; that his body, mind and soul were not supernaturally created but are products of evolution, and that he is not under the control or guidance of any supernatural being or beings, but has to rely on himself and his own powers.”3 If those making curriculum and text book decisions hold to this view of man, don’t you think that will affect their work? What about class room teachers who are humanists? Consider, humanists have said that “the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom, by the teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith. . . . The classroom will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new the rotting corpse of Christianity … and the new found faith of humanism.”4
2. The Sex Education Movement is on the fast track, and proponents of these indiscreet curriculums have declared success in some states. Here in Texas we must constantly look over the shoulders of our state legislators, the lobbyists who try to purchase them, state and local school board members and the abortion advocacy groups such as Planned Parenthood. Educating children in sexuality, per se, is not the problem. The problems of secular influence become apparent when you start asking questions:  Who will teach my children?  What will my children be taught?  When will they be taught?  With whom will they be taught?  Can I opt my children out of the program?  Will the popular “mixed message” be the theme? “Don’t have sex, but if you do. . .?”  If “abstinence” is even brought up, what will the definition be? Another fearful dimension of the modern sex education agenda is the powerful homosexual lobby, and their intrusion into the school room. Consider, if state and local educational officials allow every culture, sub-culture, and interests group to have input into the sex education agenda, the militant gay rights leaders will be in line, right along with the conservative fundamentalists and family values people! It’s already happening, here in Texas and everywhere. If this agenda of perversion is implemented in the schools, homosexuality will be taught as an “alternate lifestyle,” and if your children are mature, articulate and courageous enough to state their objection, they will be labeled as guilty of the politically incorrect crime of homophobia. Anybody who expresses moral outrage or objection to the practice (sin) of homosexuality is according to the politically correct pundits homophobic. In some public universities, “Students who express disapproval of homosexuality are, under threat of expulsion, being required to take `sensitivity training’ to cure their ‘homophobia’.”’ (In a recent Andy Rooney column he spoke out: “. . .I disapprove of making condoms available to children because there may be a few boys or girls in the class who are sexually active. The only certain thing that all the talk about sex can do is promote more of it at a younger age.”6
3. Outcome-based Education (OBE) is one of the “politically correct” methods being discussed in circles of modern education reform. In some states, this has become nothing but a professional-sounding label for the same old secular agenda: getting in touch with your feelings, situation ethics, values clarification, subjectivist, affective development … and all this along with lowered academic standards, and at tax payer expense!’
4. Social Services On Campus for “at risk” children is a growing trend. These “social service centers” are opening up for “business” on campuses all across the nation, taking schools further beyond their traditional academic roles. In some cases, semi-professionals are identifying children who are “at risk,” by applying standards that derive from their own secular agenda. School counselors and paraprofessionals in mental health are labeling children as “disadvantaged,” or “abused,” and in some cases the “evidence” is that the parents are using “inappropriate discipline”; that may mean that the discipline the parents are using is not what the secular, humanist mentality approves.
5. Multiculturalism. In some places, school children are being taught that street slang is just as good as proper English; social integration must take precedence over hard work and a free economy; and the fraudulent agenda and messages of some “minority groups” is part of the curriculum, all in the name of a newly created god, multiculturalism. Cultural assimilation has been elevated to a virtue at the expense of good education in many cases. “. . . Ethnic communities that are committed to preserving some of their cultural values and their heritage should be free to instill these values in their children at home, at church, in the neighborhood. Surely it is not the office of public schools to promote separatism and heighten ethnic tensions.”‘
6. Re-writing history. In the effort to achieve cultural assimilation, some secularists are busy re-writing the history books not to correct known error, but to indoctrinate. The revisionists are determined to use public schools as mediums for their activist agendas. Parents, beware!
7. Loss of Parental Oversight. Let me suggest that one thing parents need to look out for in public education is school officials and teachers intruding into areas tradition-ally reserved for parental oversight. The autonomy of parents is sometimes infringed by teachers who see them-selves as self-appointed social engineers and “mediums” who must usher in a new age. This was a heated issue during the term of William J. Bennett, early in his tenure as U.S. Secretary of Education. A Washington Post head-line said it all: “Education Chief Rapped for Supporting Parents.” The article said, “Some of the nation’s established organizers sharply criticized Education Secretary William J. Bennett . . . for his support of federal rules giving parents more control over `sensitive’ subject areas taught in public schools.”9 In some places, public schools may actually drive a wedge between children and parents (see Eph. 6:1-4).
8. Drug Education. Who would be opposed to drug prevention and education programs? We are not on a “witch hunt” when we ask, in regard to these programs, Who will teach it? What will they teach? Do the designers and leaders of the program have a secular, humanistic agenda? I fear that in some of these drug education programs, the students are getting the impression that the rightness or wrongness of drug use is a subjective matter that it relates to physical danger and is a mental threat, but not necessarily morally wrong. Human potential psychology may be the hidden agenda in some of these projects.10
9. The Creation-Evolution issue is not over. And all the dinosaur hype may indirectly give more credibility to some of the atheistic theories of today’s secularists. “Pictures and replicas of dinosaurs automatically conjure up a false concept of pre-historic creatures which supposedly evolved 175-200 million years ago and became extinct 65 -70 million years ago, long before man came on the scene.’
10. New Age influence is everywhere: in entertainment, the media, retail commerce, politics and schools. New Age influence involves the deadly combination of subjective humanism and secular attitudes with the eastern, pagan concepts of deity. The August 1987 annual convention of The Association for Humanistic Psychology included under the heading of Humanistic Education a workshop titled, “Zen Buddhist Ethics and the Caring Classroom: The Application of Zen Buddhism to Educating Children.”12
What Can Parents Do?
Know Your Rights! “First is the power and rights of the parents. It is good constitutional law in our nation that the parents are the primary educators of their children. They have the right to safeguard the religion, the morals, the attitudes, the values, and the family privacy of their children.”13
“Re-double Your Efforts To Educate, Discipline and Influence Your Children At Home. Talk to your children about these things as soon as appropriate. Get help, use resources, and associate with other Christian parents facing the same threats. By all means, get serious about training your children in Biblical values.
“Be active in watching your state legislature, and don’t hesitate to communicate to them and initiate all the citizen input and influence that is legitimate. Much of what happens in your local school district is directly related to state mandates, regulations, standards, and pressures. You will need to watch and participate on the local (school board) level, but some things (like sex education) may be out of the control of the school board, because of state mandates. Before the next legislative session in your state, talk to your representative about these issues.
“Be a Christian, wear the whole armor of God, and spread the gospel everywhere, starting at home. ‘Education is a weapon, whose effect depends upon who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed’ (Josef Stalin).”
1Secularism, as defined by Charles Colson (The Body 172): “As an adjective, the word secular means merely `of this world,’ or `of the present age.’ As a world-view, however, it becomes secularism, an ideology that places all emphasis on the here and now. The anthem of modern American secularism is captured in the beer commercial: `You only go around this way once, so grab for all the gusto you can.’ Or as the T-shirts proclaim, `Carpe diem’ Seize the day! the ultimate existential expression.”
The writer of this article has a tract out on the subject of humanism, in English and Spanish; order from Guardian of Truth Bookstore. Also, The New Age Movement: A Biblical Perspective.
‘Quoted in The Battle For The Mind by Tim LaHaye 63. ‘From The Humanist Magazine, Jan./Feb. 1983.
‘Jeffrey Hart, “Not Just An Alternate Lifestyle,” McAllen Monitor, July 28, 1993, 6-D.
6 Andy Rooney, “Andy’s Startling Confession,” McAllen Monitor, Aug. 13, 1993.
‘For more research into OBE, write to CEE, Box 3200, Costa
Mesa, CA 92628, or call (714) 546-5931.
‘The Way Things Ought To Be, Rush Limbaugh 213.
‘The De-Valuing of America, William J. Bennett 46.
10For an excellent discussion of various drug education programs, see Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong, William Kilpatrick, Simon & Schuster, 1992 (Chapter 2).
“Dinosaurs Attack Children!” Dick Blackford. Searching The Scriptures XXIX:11 [November, 1988], 252.
1 ‘The New Spirituality by Dave Hunt & T. A. McMahon, 43. “The Teaching Of Values In The Public Schools,” by Phyllis Schlafly, The Phyllis Schlafly Report, Oct. 1989.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 3, p. 17-19
February 3, 1994