Consider this headline to an opinion piece in today’s Age: “Religious classes in state schools must be about teaching, not preaching”. The Melbourne academic also informs us that “A liberal society should protect children in public schools from indoctrination by well-meaning religious adherents”.
He also claims, “Schools set up by a liberal state and pursuing public good should not be intruded upon by the private convictions of any groups within society.” And he insists that “Children do not have the capacity to critically assess the ideas that are presented to them. The dividing line between telling students about religion and inducting them into religion is very hard to draw.”
The point of all this is of course that he does not like Christianity being taught to our students, and he wants this stopped: “Young people should understand the religious traditions that influence world events and which are adhered to in our multicultural society. But this can be achieved in better ways than special religious instruction.”
Of course the secular left Age has long been targeting Christianity in general and Christian religious classes in schools in particular for some time now. So we should not be surprised to see yet more of the same in its pages. But I just wish to make one fundamental point here, and use the author’s very reasoning to do so.
That point is this: we already do have hardcore religious preaching taking place in our public schools. It happens every day in every school in the country. And the religion being taught in all our schools is that of secular humanism.
Secular humanism is a worldview with a set of basic beliefs which address the basic issues of life. And it has its sacred texts, its prophetic voices, and its list of dos and don’ts. It is a worldview and it is a religion. Even the US Supreme Court ruled that secular humanism is indeed a religion.
So our academic is being quite disingenuous at best, and fraudulent at worst, in saying there should be no preaching in our public schools. It happens every day. Secular humanism is the default worldview which is being promoted in our schools all the time.
And this has not happened by accident. The humanists have said for quite some time now that the most important thing they can do is target children in our schools. They know that if they can get access to young children, they can turn them away from the beliefs and values of their parents and the churches.
As Thomas Sowell once remarked, “Advocates of Secular Humanism have been quite clear and explicit as to the crucial importance of promoting their philosophy in the schools, to counter or undermine religious values among the next generation.”
Plenty of humanist quotes can be produced here to demonstrate all this. Let me offer just a few. Charles Francis Potter, a signatory to Humanist Manifesto I, put it this way: “Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?”
Interestingly, educational reformer John Dewey, known as the father of modern education, also was a signatory to the Humanist Manifesto. He was a member of various humanist societies, and even referred to humanism as our “common faith”. His influence on education – including his worldview – has been enormous.
Julian Huxley, writing in 1959, said this: “It is essential for evolution to become the central core of any educational system, because it is evolution, in the broad sense, that links inorganic nature with life, and the stars with the earth, and matter with mind, and animals with man. Human history is a continuation of biological evolution in a different form.
“The battle for mankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity. . . . These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing the classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level – preschool, day care center or large state university.”
Or consider what John Dunphy wrote in “A New Religion for a New Age,” (The Humanist, January/February, 1983): “The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new – the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.”
More recently American philosopher and postmodernist Richard Rorty made this admission: “I, like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities, try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own.”
No wonder Vladimir Lenin once said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Or again: “Give us the child for eight years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.”
As James Dobson and Gary Bauer once wrote, “The humanistic system of values has become the predominant way of thinking in most of the power centers of society. It has outstripped Judeo-Christian precepts in the universities, in the news media, in the entertainment industry, in the judiciary, in the federal bureaucracy, in business, medicine, law, psychology, sociology, in the arts, in many public schools and, to be sure, in the halls of Congress.”
Abraham Lincoln was certainly correct when he stated, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of government in the next.” And the philosophy of the classroom today is unquestionably that of secular humanism.
Thus if our academic friend is really worried about preaching in the classroom, he should be targeting the secular humanists, not the Christians. But he won’t because that is his default position as well, as it is of the Melbourne Age. And he knows full well what he warned about: “Children do not have the capacity to critically assess the ideas that are presented to them”.
Exactly. That is why the secular preachers are winning in our schools.