Posted at Free Republic, Missouri League and Friends of Liberty
I recently attended a presentation on the scientific basis for the biblical account of creation and the folly of evolution. The speaker, who was incredibly learned on the subject, demolished every imaginable argument against creationism and in favor of evolution. At one point, a friend of mine raised her hand and asked, "If evolution is so wrong, why do they teach it in the schools?"
I assume she meant public schools. We shall see that it makes perfect sense that public schools teach evolution and ridicule creationism. First, however, let us deal with some of the presuppositions that underlie state education.
The most important of these is that state education is some sort of inevitability. This is simply not true. There is nothing in either the Bible or any of America's founding documents, mandating its existence. (Indeed, government control of education is a policy prescription of the Communist Manifesto.) The Constitution authorizes no federal authority over education, and guarantees the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit, without having to obtain approval.
As a culture, we do not question our current education arrangements, as they have been around longer than most of us have been alive. When I was growing up in the 1970s, I thought that private schools were for rich kids and Catholic kids only. As a middle class Protestant, the idea of a right to choose schools never entered my head. It was as if something were sacred about state education.
From the 1600s until the 1850s, education was almost totally in private hands and attendance was strictly voluntary. The first compulsory attendance laws were enacted in Massachusetts in 1852. Attendance did not become compulsory in all states until 1918. Until after World War II, government control of education was primarily local. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare was not established until the 1950s, and a separate Department of Education was not established until 1979. Large-scale federal intrusion into education has only been a fact of life for a small fraction of our history.
Yet we act as if things have been this way since time immemorial. We engage in endless hairsplitting about public school reform. Christian preachers harshly denounce the 1962 Supreme Court decision that removed prayer from schools. Indeed, constitutional amendments have been proposed to reverse this decision. (1)
This is the wrong battle. Christians have a book called the Bible that places responsibility for nurturing children squarely on parents and no one else. The Bible separates school and state. Why are more Christians not fighting for this cause? Oh sure, a few are doing so, but they are marginalized by a Christian establishment that has become firmly wedded to the statist mainstream.
The same goes in areas such as evolution versus creationism, sex education versus traditional values education, and whether or not schools should pass out condoms. The Christian establishment tells us that electing a traditionalist Christian majority in Washington as well as on the local school boards will make things right. Majorities come and go, so it would only be a matter of time before the secularists regain the upper hand.
What ever happened to the idea that the right of parents to educate children as they see fit comes from God, and that government's job is to protect such rights? Under this arrangement, none of the aforementioned debates would be political ones. If you did not like what was happening at your child's school, you could march right down and remove your child from that school, without having to kiss the feet of the authorities.
This year, in the wake of the Columbine tragedy, Colorado's governor signed into law an anti-school bullying bill. What nonsense! If your child feels physically threatened every day at school, why can you not exercise your right to remove your child from that school without jumping through innumerable hoops? (Even if you withdraw your child from a public school, you still have to pay taxes to support that school.) Have you ever stopped to consider the insanity - yes, insanity -- of any law compelling anyone to go someplace where they fear for their physical safety? Such madness is the result of our forsaking the idea of a free society.
Why, then, does it make sense that public schools would teach evolution and ridicule and suppress creation? It comes back to the golden rule. No, dummy, not the biblical Golden Rule. This golden rule says that "He who has the gold makes the rule." Where state money flows, state regulation follows. If the state foots the bill for education, the state controls the curriculum.
The greater the size and scope of the state, the more hostile it will be toward Christianity, and the greater its desire will be to write God out of the picture altogether. The state aims to undermine church and family because loyalty to these institutions undermines loyalty to the state. It uses education as one of its primary weapons, brainwashing children into believing that everything their parents and churches have taught them is nonsensical.
The Bible teaches that God made the world and made man, that the rulers of this world are subject to God's judgment, and that we should exercise compassion and charity toward the poor and the sick. Evolution teaches that man just kinda sorta happened, that man is some kind of grown up germ with no special significance, that the fittest survive and the unfit perish. Guess which worldview is more amenable to tyrants and wannabe tyrants. Guess which worldview aspiring tyrants are more likely to propagate. Militant atheism and fervent belief in evolution have been characteristic of all totalitarian regimes.
Unless we reverse the growth of government - and I mean reverse it, not just slow it - we will one day arrive at a totalitarian state of affairs. Just as Christian education serves to propagate the Gospel, state education serves to expand and teach subservience to the state. We must disabuse ourselves of any fantasies we may have about "reforming" state education, and work to dismantle it.
(1) See The Religious Liberties Amendment: Treating the Symptom, Avoiding the Problem and We Don't Need a Religious Freedom Amendment (back)
Also see Rights You Won't Learn About in Public Schools
Freely Speaking: Speeches and Essays by Doug Newman
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