Chapter 27 American Education was Christian Based
America's Public Schools: Christian Based
For the sake of emphasis and in direct contradiction to anti-American Secularists, a quote from a previous chapter is repeated here:
"We are Christians, not because the law demands it… but from choice and education… But they [the Founders] had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people… they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistic apathy."1
Early Americans saw a God-centered education as a requisite to gain and maintain religious and civil freedom. By enabling their children to read God’s holy Word, the colonists expected them to come to know, love and believe in Jesus Christ personally. They knew that only He could provide an inspired answer to who they were and why they existed and where they were going - a comprehensive and understandable Worldview. America’s founding charter, the Declaration of Independence could not have been penned, let alone approved, by Secularists. Overall, the colonists were purposeful and productive people on assignment as ambassadors for their Creator who sent them to recruit others into His kingdom. From Columbus to George Washington and beyond, some explorers and most colonists revered the Gospel message and were committed to spreading it. They believed that a Bible-based education was an indispensable key to life here and hereafter.
America's Colleges: Christian Based
America's first college was founded in 1636 when Rev. John Harvard established Harvard College to train ministers and missionaries. In America's first century, Christian denominations founded more than a hundred colleges to teach what Dr. Francis Schaeffer referred to as "a Christian consensus."2
Consider these quotes:
"In 1746, the Philadelphia Presbyterian Synod secured a charter for the College of New Jersey, which in 1756 became Princeton College. Most of its first six presidents, Jonathan Edwards among them, had been prominent preachers in the revival movement.
In 1766, members of the Dutch Reformed Church founded Queen's College, which sixty years later became Rutgers at New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1764, Baptists founded Brown University in Rhode Island, and in 1769 a Congregational preacher by the name of Eleazar Wheelock founded Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Even the nonsectarian University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1756 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, welcomed preachers to edify the students."3
“The Massachusetts Law of 1647, also known as the Old Deluder Satan Act, was passed that required every town of at least 50 families to hire a schoolmaster who would teach the town's children to read and write. All the towns of at least 100 families should have a Latin grammar school master who will prepare students to attend Harvard College."4
"The Bible is the foundation upon which our nation was built. A hundred and nineteen of the first schools, including Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Yale, were established on the Word of God and dedicated to the Lordship of Christ and for the training of disciples of the Lord. As late as 1850 Christians ran virtually every newspaper in this country."5
America’s Educators: Christians
Noah Webster was dissatisfied with English textbooks of the day. He was prompted to write A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, which consisted of three volumes: a spelling book, a grammar book and a reader. They were so popular throughout the United States that the spelling volume (later renamed the American Spelling Book and often called the Blue-Backed Speller) has never been out of print! This is part of his story:
"While teaching in overcrowded, ill-equipped one-room schoolhouses, Webster became burdened for American students. Noah Webster observed the fact that the American colonists spoke numerous languages, and even those who spoke English often spelled and pronounced words differently. If the nation was to survive, he believed, its people had to have a common language and set of moral values. Furthermore, he thought that the schools should teach from American, not British, textbooks.
Although he was concerned that children learn to read and write, Webster was also burdened for them to learn ethics, morality, and Christianity, without which, even the most scholarly person cannot be considered successful. An advertisement for his school stated, 'The strictest attention will be paid to the studies, the manners and the morals of youth...' His concern for the students' moral development was always strong, but it became even stronger following his religious conversion during the 'Second Great Awakening' when he was about fifty years old.
'The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities, and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.' ~Noah Webster
To accomplish his twin goals of developing the students' minds and enriching their souls, Webster wrote spelling books and dictionaries. ... Webster's religious world view also was apparent in his dictionary. According to the Foundation for American Christian Education, 'Unmistakably it reveals the degree to which the Bible was America's textbook and how it related to all fields.' (emphasis added)
Biographer David Micklethwait, by no means a defender of Webster's religious views, admits, 'Christianity is to be found in the dictionary in meanings and definitions, in quotations from the Bible and in Webster's own sentences illustrating the use of words.' "6
Dr. Benjamin Rush, a prominent Philadelphia medical doctor, was one of our Founding Fathers. He was a member of the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1775, he suggested that Thomas Paine write a tract, under the title Common Sense, in favor of American independence. It became very influential in turning public opinion toward that independence. The following three quotes indicate his love for the Bible and its place in American education. They reflect the convictions of most Americans of his day:
“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”7
“We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.”8
“By renouncing the Bible, philosophers swing from their moorings upon all moral subjects… It is the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published… All systems of religion, morals, and government not founded upon it [the Bible] must perish, and how consoling the thought, it will not only survive the wreck of these systems but the world itself. 'The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.' " [Matthew 1:18]9 (emphasis added)
America’s Textbooks: Christian Based
"The New England Primer was a textbook used by students in New England and in other English settlements in North America. It was first printed in Boston in 1690 by Benjamin Harris who had published a similar volume in London. It was used by students into the 19th century. Over five million copies of the book were sold.
In the 1700's schools in the colonies were strongly influenced by religion. It was the intent of the colonists that all children should learn to read and in 1642 Puritan Massachusetts passed a law stating this. They believed that an inability to read was Satan's attempt to keep people from the Scriptures.
The New England Primer followed a tradition of combining the study of the alphabet with Bible reading. It introduced each alphabet letter in a religious phrase and then illustrated the phrase with a woodcut. The primer also contained a catechism of religious questions and answers. Emphasis was placed on fear of sin, God's punishment and the fact that all people would have to face death."10
The fabled McGuffy reading instruction books were used by four-fifths of all American school children for three-quarters of a century. No other books have had so much influence over so many children over such a long period.
"McGuffey's Readers formed a series of textbooks that molded American literary taste and morality, particularly in the Middle West, from 1836 until the early twentieth century. The total sales reached 122 million copies by 1920. Only the Bible and Webster's Spelling Book have enjoyed equal acceptance in the United States. William Holmes McGuffey prepared the Eclectic Series of school readers at the request of a Cincinnati publisher interested in books adapted to the western schools. The books followed the conventional pattern of readers, teaching the principles of religion, morality, and patriotism through literary samples and pictures. They included considerable lore about nature, games and sports, manners, and attitudes toward God, relatives, teachers, companions, unfortunates, and animals. The lessons simplified complex problems so that, in the end, right always conquered and sin or wrong was always punished.
... the McGuffey's Readers' popularity extended far beyond their intended frontier audience, and they eventually had a considerable impact on curricula throughout the country."11
“The fact that our public life, and particularly our public education, inculcated the principles of Christianity is also confirmed through the holdings of the Department of Education in Washington D. C. Its old textbook library houses a collection of every text used in American education from 1775 to 1900. Even a short perusal of its tens of thousands of holdings demonstrates how difficult it is to find any textbook from any curricular field of study which did not have Christian teachings infused throughout.
These common Christian values were inculcated throughout society in a number of manners. One was by public education. For example, ...(a) law (was) signed by President George Washington on August 7, 1789, declaring that schools were to teach the 'religion, morality, and knowledge' which was 'necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.' And Founding Fathers like Constitution signers George Washington, William Samuel Johnson, Gouverneur Morris, Declaration signers Samuel Adams, Benjamin Rush, and many others, affirmed that Christian principles were to be inculcated throughout American education. In fact, in a unanimous decision in 1844, the U. S. Supreme Court held that a public school must instruct in the general principles of Christianity."12 (emphasis added)
An objective source, author and French historian Alex de Tocqueville, wrote in "Democracy in America" in 1835,
"There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America."13 (emphasis added)
The Secularist Agenda Exposed
Despite all this (and far more available evidence), anti-American Secularists will not be convinced. They believe they have a better solution to man’s misery than true Christianity rightly applied. Consistent with the Anti-Christ spirit warned about in Scripture, they resolutely declare their animosity and battle plan to rule the world.
“The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new - the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of 'love thy neighbor' will finally be achieved." - John J. Dunphy, "A New Religion For A New Age"14 (emphasis added)
Which Worldview has produced the best fruit: Jesus saving man or man saving man? Look no further than Hitler and Stalin for your answer. Our Founders knew the truth and used it to plant the seeds of the greatest and freest nation the world has ever seen. What more proof does a rational person need?
Secularist doubters want to destroy America by separating us from the very source to whom our Founders attributed their defense and success, the God of the Bible. Even though enough documentation of our government’s Christian basis has been given above, the next chapter will focus on the bogus use of the volatile phrase, “The Separation of Church and State."
1 David Barton, The Practical Benefits of Christianity, as referenced by Worldview Weekend, http://www.worldviewweekend.com/secure/institute/book/chapters/tpboc.html, retrieved June 7, 2007.
2 Tim and Beverly LaHaye, A Nation Without a Conscience, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL, 1994, 150-151.
3 Samuel Blumenfeld, "Enemies in Academe: They've Substituted Radicalism for Scholarship," American Opinion Publishing, Inc., Appleton, WI, 1989, http://reformed-theology.org/html/issue08/blumenfeld.htm, retrieved July 20, 2007.
4 Edmund Sass, Ed.D., Educational Resources and Lesson Plans, "American Educational History: A Hypertext Timeline," http://www.cloudnet.com/~edrbsass/educationhistorytimeline.html, retrieved July 20, 2007.
5 Alliance for Life Ministries, "America's Christian Heritage, Part II: The Revolution and Beyond," http://www.alliance4lifemin.org/categorized_articles/heritage/ach_part2/ach_part2.htm, retrieved July 20, 2007.
6 Dennis L. Peterson, Homeschooling Today Magazine, "The Enduring Legacy of Noah Webster," http://www.homeschooltoday.com/articles/articles/legacy_of_noah_webster.php, retrieved July 20, 2007.
7 Benjamin Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, L.H. Butterfield, editor, Princeton: The American Philosophical Society, 1951, Vol. I, 414, "To the citizens of Philadelphia: A Plan for Free Schools," March 28, 1787.
8 Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical, (Philadelphia: Printed by Thomas and William Bradford, 1806), 93-94.
9 Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, 936, "To John Adams," January 23, 1807.
10 History of American Education Web Project, "Colonial Period of American Education (ca. 1600-1776): The New England Primer," prepared by Mary O'Neill, http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/colonial.html, retrieved July 20, 2007.
11 Answers.com, "McGuffey Readers," http://www.answers.com/topic/mcguffey-readers, retrieved July 20, 2007.
12 Barton, The Practical Benefits of Christianity.
13 Alliance for Life Ministries, "America's Christian Heritage, Part II."
14 Changing Worldviews with Sharon Hughes, "Unbelievable Quotes: Education," http://www.changingworldviews.com/quotations.htm#Education, retrieved July 20, 2007.