As devout Evangelicals, Polly and I strongly believed in Christian education. Outside of our two oldest sons attending public schools for two years when they were young, our six children either attended church-operated Christian schools or were home schooled. Our youngest three children were home schooled from kindergarten through grade twelve. Our oldest two children attended Licking County Christian Academy (LCCA) in Heath, Ohio for two years, attended Somerset Baptist Academy in Mt. Perry, Ohio for five years, and then were home schooled through grade twelve. Our third son took a similar path, except that his stint at LCCA took place his senior year, the result of him trying to run away from home. LCCA was, and still is, owned and operated by the Newark Baptist Temple (NBT). Polly’s uncle, Jim Dennis, pastored NBT for almost fifty years. Polly taught third grade one year at LCCA in the early 1980s, and worked two years in the church’s daycare “ministry.” She was summarily fired after church leadership determined that all church employees had to be members of the church. At the time, Polly and I were members of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, a church that I started with Polly’s father.
I recite the above historical sketch to impress on readers that I was a big proponent of Christian education, be it church schools or home schooling. In 1989, after having a falling-out with Polly’s preacher uncle, I started a church-operated Christian school in southeast Ohio. I served as the administrator of this school until March 1994, at which time I packed up my family and moved them to San Antonio, Texas, so I could become the co-pastor of Community Baptist Church. While at Community, I started Community Baptist Academy in Elmendorf, Texas. Once the school was up and running, I moved on to other duties. The school had 55 students its first year. I left the church later that year (Please see the series, I Am a Publican and a Heathen.) The church later shuttered the school.
Ohio and Texas were similar when it came to regulations governing church schools. Simply put, there were no rules outside of fire and safety requirements. When I say NO rules, that’s what I mean – no curriculum or teacher requirements. Both states minimally regulated home education, but when it came to controlling schools owned and operated by churches, it was hands-off. In Ohio, schools such as Somerset Baptist Academy were called non-chartered nonpublic schools — institutions that objected to state oversight for religious reasons. Many Ohio parochial schools, however, were considered chartered nonpublic schools. Such school:
. . .holds a valid charter issued by the state board of education and maintains compliance with the Operating Standards for Ohio’s Schools. These schools are not supported by local or state tax dollars and require the family to pay tuition. Chartered Nonpublic schools are eligible for the Administrative Cost Reimbursement Program, Auxiliary Services Program and Transportation services for students.
As an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor and later as a Calvinistic Baptist pastor, I vehemently opposed public education. In southeast Ohio, I was well known for letters to the editors of local newspapers I wrote decrying the damage “government schools” were causing to American children. I saw public schools as tools of Satan, little more than places where children were indoctrinated in socialistic, humanistic, atheistic, liberal, anti-American ways of thinking. I publicly went after school superintendents and teachers, the former for refusing to give Christianity its rightful place in their schools, and the latter for refusing to teach creationism and Christian-centric curriculum.
When I started Somerset Baptist Academy in 1989, the superintendent of Northern Local School District gave me old desks for our school. He was a gracious man, but I wondered at the time if he was actually quite glad I started a school, and the desks were a parting gift. I am sure he was tired of my visits and letters, thinking that my starting a school would put an end to the attacks. It didn’t. There were parents in the church who refused to put their children in the church’s school. This irritated me, but I still felt a pastoral duty towards them, so I continued to monitor and publicly harass public school officials when it was warranted (from my narrow uber-Fundamentalist point of view). I remain surprised that these families, for a time, stayed on as members. I routinely preached against public education and teachers’ unions, and argued that parents were commanded by God to raise their children up in a Christian environment — complete with proof texts such as Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:6,7, and 2 Timothy 3:14,15. There were even two public school teachers who attended the church for a while. For the life of me, I don’t know how they weathered my frequent and brutal assaults on their livelihood. Eventually, everyone who saw things differently moved on, leaving me with a congregation committed to my singular vision of Christian education.
As I ponder my past, I can see how hatred and mistrust of government fueled my desire to educate my own children and those of the people I pastored in distinctly Christian schools — institutions that were anti-government and totally separate from the “world.” My worldview, at the time, was anti-cultural, not counter-cultural. I was closer, thinking-wise, to the Amish or Mennonites. In my mind, the world was “evil” and I was duty bound to be separate from the world and protect my children and those who attended the churches I pastored from Satan and his wicked emissaries. The Christian school, then, was a way to limit the influence of the “world.” As I will share in a future post, try as I might to shield students from the “world,” kids were kids and they found ways to drink in the culture of the day.
As I think back over my motives for starting two schools and sending my own children to Christian schools and homeschooling them, I have concluded that I sincerely wanted what was best for my four sons and two daughters and for the children of the families who attended the churches I pastored. I believed, at the time, that immersing children in a Christian environment and sheltering them from the “world” was the best way to protect them from sin and prepare them for adulthood. I now know that such thinking is not only naïve, it harms children and cripples them as adults. Later in my pastoral career, I realized this and made sure that my children were exposed to the world. Yes, we continued to home school, but we did so for pragmatic reasons — mainly continuity due to our frequent moves. If Polly and I had it to do all over again, we would send our children to public schools, especially now that Ohio allows open enrollment. All of our school-age grandchildren (ten) attend local public schools (Defiance City Schools, Northeastern Local Schools, and Stryker Local Schools). Their schools and teachers aren’t perfect, but on the whole, we are pleased with the education they are receiving.
As I age — I will draw my first social security check in June — I lament past actions. I have spent countless hours in counseling lamenting choices made because I thought God wanted me to do something. I hurt a lot people trying to “help” them. That said, on balance, our children and those who attended the schools I started did well educationally. The reasons for this are many. I will share those reasons in my next post.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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Religion is a tradition and a part of life across the entire globe, appearing in virtually all cultures. It comes in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, and advocates both peace and violence. People may change their religious ideas over time. Across all of these variations, a single variable is shared: faith based not on objective fact, but on belief.
By itself, that isn’t a problem per se—religious beliefs don’t necessarily need to conflict or interact with secular ideas. But when they do, we get problems. Historically, civilizations ruled by religious ideology inevitably face challenges when it comes to making rational decisions about the greater good of society.
At the center of America’s founding principles, we have the separation of church and state. There’s a very good reason for that foundation and it isn’t because the founders were faithless heathens or that they hated religion. It was because, in their time, religious institutions wielded tremendous power over governments and interfered with progress and prosperity.
Fast forward to today, and there are a number of fascinating examples of yesterday’s problems causing today’s problems. Where then do schools fall into this argument?
Our schools teach us many things—the liberal arts, sciences, arithmetic, and sometimes even life skills such as those taught in the rapidly disappearing home economics classes. Yet regardless of the grade level or subject, the central tenant of all schools is socializing our children.
Socialization teaches them how to interact with others, what’s expected of them in the world, and how they must interact with rules and authority. Foundations begin at home but are molded by the social experience.
What then for students who are taught that it’s expected of them to follow certain religious tenets? Even if we ignore that religious ideas taught at schools can conflict with the beliefs acquired at home, we must acknowledge that institutional teaching of religious ideas limits the freedom of choice. It robs individuals of the privilege to choose their own beliefs, by spiking the proverbial thought pool with predispositions.
Furthermore, schools that push religion absolutely influence how tomorrow’s adults will interact with the rest of the world. Being taught that a single idea is right and familiar makes foreign religions and ideologies appear strange and at times threatening. It plays perfectly into fear-mongering of the “other” where one religious belief is backed by the power of the state.
Religion becomes an issue in schools not when attendees practice their own beliefs, but when the institution itself favors any form of “belief.” Schools must be objective; they need to teach skills and facts based on the best available evidence, and religion simply doesn’t fit into that category because it is inherently not evidence-based.
That doesn’t mean religion is inherently good or bad; it simply falls into a different category from what schools are intended to teach. Truthfully, there should never be room to argue about material taught in schools because the information ought to be undeniable.
For instance, one can argue whether stories in the Bible, Quran, etc. are true, but absolutely no one will disprove grammatical rules, mathematical formulas or basic scientific laws. The last comes with some caveat, as scientific theories are continually rewritten based on new information.
Admittedly one might argue that cultural identity and historic events are open to interpretation, but the underlying facts don’t change. The president during World War II is not a point of debate any more than whether or not the Civil Rights Movement actually happened.
A Balanced Viewpoint
Most information we’re given as adults comes with a major slant or agenda. Even this piece has an agenda, which you’ve no doubt assumed at some point from the title. Pushing a single religious ideology as “right” is simply not something that belongs in our schools.
Yet we see it all the time. It’s not the little vestiges such as the pledge of allegiance, but the general favoring of certain religious ideas as being more correct. For instance, the ancient religion of the Greeks is taught in most schools as “mythology.” That title assumes the ideas and stories are fictitious—something never directly linked with the world’s major religions.
Think to yourself and ask if you’ve ever seen primary or secondary school offering a class on “Islamic Mythology.” You won’t ever see this class title because it pre-supposes that one of the world’s current “top” religions is based on fiction. It becomes inappropriate to do so because it might offend someone, yet the former class on the Greeks is acceptable because there’s scarcely anyone left to be offended.
This is a double standard and truly violates the spirit of an institution built on fostering creative free thinkers, though the former point is somewhat of a “liberty” to be taken with modern schools.
But inevitably, balance would dictate that schools either teach all religions or none. The sheer number of beliefs makes the first option unreasonable, leaving only one serious choice.
For a moment, however, we need to return to reality from the land of fair and hypothetical ideas, because the real world works quite the opposite in practice.
Politics and Religion
Returning to one of our original points, we have the idea that religion and politics should be separated. It’s a founding principle in America, but that doesn’t mean it’s practiced or accepted by everyone everywhere.
Even in the United States, where religion is legally separate from the state, we constantly see the use of religion to steer politics one way or the other. Pastors, priests, rabbis, and all other sorts of religious leaders seek to use their influence to steer voters or public policy.
Those raised on an education where religion is omnipresent are far less likely to object to making decisions based on religion because such a thing is already a standard in their lives since childhood. And it wasn’t just mom or dad pushing those ideas.
Of course, there are other extremes that demonstrate our point much more clearly. Religious states such as Iran are the talk of the world, not because of their unbridled prosperity, but because of the threat they perceive to those with differing beliefs. The same could be said of Israel, who despite a secular slant, is dominated by a single religious faith system that very much impacts public policy.
One last form of state-sponsored religion is the unorthodox practice of a dictatorship backed by a “cult of personality.” Like the Hitler youth groups of World War II Germany, countries such as North Korea and China practice devotion not to an otherworldly deity, but to a person. These beliefs are communicated in school in a manner no different from in a devout Christian or Islamic state.
It should be noted that in either case — secular or spiritual religion — both institutions seek to repress information on a massive scale. Without the use of specialty programs such as VPNs, those in many of the aforementioned countries have severely limited access to information online, as their governments prevent access to the outside.
Obscuring dissenting ideas is just one of many tactics used by state-sponsored religion, and schools make it easier by issuing textbooks that only contain information in support of the dominating ideology.
The last point we’d like to discuss is with regards to the above points on what may as well be termed “atheist religions.” Though traditional spiritual religions have no place in schools, their absence shouldn’t be taken as permission for similar secular dogmas to step in.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in today’s cult of science. It quietly invades our classrooms, pushing singular ideas as being the one and only correct explanation for phenomenon when insufficient data exists to support a certain conclusion. And it can have dire consequences.
For the last half century, schools taught a generation of students that butter was somehow inferior to margarine. That in itself wasn’t a problem because the research seemed to support it; the problem is that today many institutions still teach these same, incorrect ideas because the established professors cling to old “facts” like a religious ideology.
These are the people – part of the “science is never wrong” group – who selectively ignore information that is detrimental to their own beliefs. These beliefs are the unintentional replacement for spiritual belief systems that need to be rooted out all the same.
If and when religion is removed from our schools, then we can truly create the most open and creative minds. These students will be the leaders of tomorrow who help to end meaningless conflicts based solely on beliefs.
Do you think religion has a place in school? Why or why not?
About the Author: Carla is a thinker and rational debater with a major focus on modern issues ranging from education to politics. With a background in cybersecurity and freedom of information activism, she brings a unique perspective into arguments, always with a hope of opening minds to new perspectives.
What follows is an excerpt from a 11,000 word sermon preached in 1971 at First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, by its pastor Jack Hyles. Titled Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Hyles makes it clear that the public schools are out to destroy America’s children. Sadly, forty years later, many Evangelicals still believe as Hyles did: that public schools are used by Satan to destroy the minds of our children. Hyles’ solution, of course, was for parents to pull their children out of public schools, and enroll them in Christian schools.
I would not preach like I am going to preach tonight if I did not love you. I know a lot of folks tonight will not agree with me, but you never heard a more honest sermon. Now I know our church has dozens of public school teachers. If we asked for a show of hands tonight, I am sure that we would have 35 to 40 people in this room tonight who teach in the public school. I would not hurt you purposely for the world, but tonight I am going to do one thing–I am going to tear what is going on in our schools apart, let me forewarn you. I am going to try to help you save your kids.
The truth is, parents do not know what is going on. I am going to be very frank tonight. No punches barred tonight. If I have superintendents of schools and principals and teachers calling me by the thousands tomorrow, it does not matter. I am going to try to save your kids if it makes the whole town mad. Tonight I am going to spend myself to save your kids. I am going to risk your devotion, your love, your fellowship, maybe your friendship, but I am going to do it because, with all my heart I want to save your kids.
A lady said to me yesterday, “I went over here to a middle school to work in the lunchroom at the lunch hour. Pastor, it never dawned on me the condition of that place. I never realized before what is happening in our schools.”
Parents, you really do not know what is going on. No, you do not. I have in my hand a teenage questionnaire. By the say, one of the reasons I am starting off slow tonight, I do not know what time it is and could not care less. You just forget your clock and your hopes of getting to bed at all tonight, because this is one night when I am going to stand before you and plead for your children.
There are people in this room tonight who care more about your dog than you do your kids. You care more about driving a Cadillac car, or new car. A lot of you ought to sell your car and ride a bicycle if you have to, to get your kids in a decent school. I plead with you tonight for your kids. I hold before me a copy of a survey that our high school students took this morning. Two hundred thirty of our students took this survey, and here are the questions:
1. Have you ever heard one of your school teachers use vulgar language in class?
2. Have you ever heard a school teacher take the name of the Lord in vain in class?
3. Do you ever hear students cursing aloud in class?
4. Have you ever been approached by someone who wanted to sell or give you marijuana or any other narcotic?
5. Have any of your school friends used narcotics?
6. Have you ever used drugs?
7. Have you ever given away or sold drugs yourself?
8. Do you know of any teacher who uses drugs?
9. Have you ever been taught evolution?
10. Do any of your teachers wear mini-skirts?
11. Do any of your teachers wear pant dresses?
12. Do any of your school friends drink?
13. Have you ever taken a drink or any alcoholic beverage, such as beer, wine, etc.?
14. Has there ever been in your school any disturbances, such as revolts, riots, student disorders, boycotts, etc.?
15. Have you ever heard the American way of life, the establishment, and capitalism criticized by a teacher?
16. Have you ever worn slacks to school?
17. Have you ever worn shorts to school?
18. Have you ever been taught that premarital sex is all right?
19. Have you been asked to read such books as, Of Mice and Men, Soul On Ice, The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, or any other book that includes cursing?
20. Have you read any of these books?
Now this questionnaire was handed to each of our high school students this morning. Before you leave tonight, I am going to give you what your kids said this morning, plus a lot of other things along with it. I will give you through the message tonight, the result of this survey.
The average parent in this room does not have any idea what is going on when your child goes to school. How many of you, if you saw your child’s teacher walking down the street, would recognize him or her? Raise your hand, please. You see, you are living under the illusion that it is like us when you were a kid. Brother, it is not near like it was when you were a kid. Not near like it was. Now, you do not care enough to even know. How many of you have ever read at least one book that was required reading for your child at school? Would you lift your hand, please? You just do not much care, do you?
You see, you do not know what is going on, and like the ostrich, you do not want to know what is going on because you do not want to get in a fight, or spend some of your money to save your child. You want to keep on riding high, living it up, enjoying life without facing the fact that we have got a battle on our hands, and that battle is not just to save the country, it is to save your children.
If we so not rise up and do something, everything decent that we know about our way of life is about to crumble. I am sick and tired of a bunch of sex, demonized, demented people standing behind the school, behind the cloak of scholarship, and destroying those whom we call our own children. I am tired of it! I have ceased, a long time ago, to keep my mouth shut about it. Not only that, but since you will not check yourself on what is going on tonight, I am going to open the door to the public schools for you and invite you in.
I challenge anybody to disprove what I say tonight. There is not one way any person can disprove what I am going to give you in this sermon tonight. You say, “Preacher, you are a rabble-rouser.” You better know I am, but I am not near as big a rabble-rouser as these people trying to destroy the minds of our children, destroy the patriotism, decency, honor, character and chastity of our boys and girls. I am going to do some rabble-rousing, but that is not all I am going to do. I am going to do some school-building, too, and I am going to give our kids a choice in so doing.
Satan is after your child like he has never been after anybody’s child in the history of this world. Satan has pointed every gun in his arsenal at the soul and body and life of your child, and he is doing it, basically, through the schoolroom.
You see, people do not like to hear what I am going to say tonight, because we have some things that we have deified. We have some institutions that we do not like to see anybody attack. We have deified the schoolroom and the public school until we think they can say no evil, speak no evil, and while we have built a canopy of protection over them they are destroying and stealing our boys and girls. Now the truth is, ant this is the sad thing, you ought to be pleading with me for your children instead of me pleading with you. Isn’t that something? I stand up here and take a chance on making you mad, pleading with you to save your child. The truth is, you ought to be on your knees, saying, “Brother Hyles, please do something for us so we can save our children.”
I could have parents stand up all over this house tonight as living testimony to what I am going to say. I could have parents parade across this platform by the dozens, they are here now, to stand up here in bodies and lives and dreams that are broken and say, “My boy or my girl was ruined by a university or a high school or a teacher.”
Your kids may go to the Devil and your kids may not go to a Christian school and they may not turn out right, but I will tell you one thing, it is not going to be because Brother Hyles did not warn you and do the best he could to help you. If anybody gets mad at me tonight, it is because you just do not understand. I love you and I love your children, and I love you so much I am going to do my best to beat some sense in your head.
I am weary of this kind of talk, “Well, everything will be out in the world when they get older. Why shelter and protect them now?” If that is the case, when your kid is born, why don’t you kick him out in the street and say, “Ride a bicycle.”
I am going to give you tonight several things the Devil is doing to attack your child:
1. Revolution. The first part of the hippie program is to kill your parents. I mean that quite seriously, because until you are prepared to kill your parents, you are not really prepared to change the country. “Our parents are our first oppressors.” Who said that? Jerry Rubin, one of the notorious Chicago Seven. Where did he say it? On the campus of Kent State University. It was said on the Kent State University campus, “You must be prepared to kill your parents because they are your first oppressors.” This was said only one week before the rioting which resulted in the deaths of four students.
Our socialist-minded professors and teachers, with their leftist-slanted textbooks, have dedicated themselves to changing the American way of life through the indoctrinating of the minds of students.
What else is being launched at your child?
2. Books. Here are some samples of profanity. Now I am sorry, I am not going to use these words, but I am going to spell some bad words. I may as well just come out and tell you what your kids are reading. You have not checked on it, you have no idea, so I am going to have to tell you. I have got to invite you. I am going to open a few of the books. New Worlds Ahead is used for the seventh grade. The seventh grade uses this: “The Stray Kitten”, by Richard Wright, Page 54. “Kill that d-a-m-n thing.” That is seventh grade. Page 55: “I had my first triumph over my father. I had made him believe that I had taken his words literally; he could not punish me without risking his authority. I was happy because I had at last found a way to throw my criticism of him into his face.” That is a quote from a seventh-grade book.
Another story in the book called “The Blue Serge Suit”, Page 414, says, “D-a-m-n asthma.” Page 416, “That d-a-m-n asthma is getting worse.” “I’ll be d-a-m-n-e-d if I see what you are getting at.” That is seventh grade reading!
A ninth grade book, Voices in Literature (1). “Shoe Shine”, by Jerome Weidman, Page 21: “My God!” Page 23:”D-A-M-N it.” Page 23 again: “D-a-m-n it! My God!” The Long Night”, by Lowell Blanton, Page 84: “Well, d-a-m-n it, man.” Page 209: “D-a-m-n-e-d-e-s-t thing.” Page 235 questions parental authority. “The Sissy from Anaconda”, Page 352: The d-a-m-n-e-d-e-s-t rattle snake.” “Hell.” That is ninth-grade reading. Not only is that not good English, that is not even cultural. That is not even refined. That is not even scholarly–that is heathen-like.
You parents who won’t send your sons and daughters to our school, you say “I am afraid that the Hammond Baptist High School will not be properly accredited.” We are a little above this kind of accreditation. We are too scholarly for this kind of garbage. We are too cultural for this kind of talk. Not only has it pricked our religious and spiritual convictions, it pricks our cultures.
We are just getting started. Say you will not read this. I have got to read it to you and for you. It is called Themes in Literature, the tenth grade. “The Colt” by Willis Stegner, Page 127: “G-o-d-d-a-m-n you. G-o-d-d-a-m-n your wild hearts.”
Tenth grade: In “The Mateo Falcon”, by Merimee, the father kills his own son. In Western Literature: Themes and writers, “The Out Station”, by W. Somerset Maugham, page 83: “Go to Hell, you d-a-m-n fool. You D-a-m-n-e-d snob, by God.” And 15 counts of profanity in this one story on Page 83, and also a murder.
Voices in literature III, an article “On the Sidewalk Bleeding”, by Evan Hunter, page 105-111, a gang member is stabbed. The whole story tells how he lays on the sidewalk and bleeds to death.
In the book Of Mice and Men, that has been required reading in numbers of schools in this area, by John Steinbeck, page 24: “He is sure a Hell of a good worker. He is a G-o-d-d-a-m-n good worker.” My Bible says you are not to take the name of our Lord God in vain. And I will tell you another thing, too. I got fed up with my boy and girl having to sit in a classroom and listen to a bunch of dirty-minded people stand up and use God’s name in vain. Not one time in the life of my children anymore are they going to sit and hear anybody curse my God! You do not have to let your children do that either. Of Mice and Men, by the way, Steinbeck is a Nobel Prize winner. The Devil is proud of him. Page 48, “Them G-o-d-d-a-m-n turnips, give it to me.” Page 56, If that crazy b-a-s-t-a-r-d is foolin’ around too much, just kick him out, Slim.” Page 83: “In many times.” Page 94: “This here G-o-d-d-a-m-n son of a ______(female dog) wasn’t nothin’ to George.”
Soul On Ice, By Elridge Cleaver, here is another book that is suggested reading, page 159: “I’d jump over ten nigger________(female dogs) just to get one white woman.”
Now you just sit there and swell up like a toadstool, but brother, I am trying to help your kids, and I am doing it at the risk of a lot of folks getting mad. Listen, if I lose half the deacon board and two-thirds of the members, there is one thing I am going to do: Try to save your kids for Jesus’s sake before I have to take off. I am not mad at anybody, but the Devil, and I am weary of this crowd of left-wingers that are taking over our schools and ruining our kids. I am weary of these sex perverts, these people of loose morals, these Sweden-oriented teachers, and if you are not one of those, I am not talking about you, but there are thousands of them, and it is getting worse and worse all the time. This kind of garbage is what they are requiring and asking our kids to read. Now I have not even started yet, really. I wish I had time to do the whole thing. Let us go further.
Soul On Ice, Page 160: “I will not be free until the day I can have a white woman in my bed, and a white man minds his own business.” Page 170, I cannot even read this, “During _______, and at the moment of her_______, the black woman in the first throes of her_________.” I cannot even read it! It tells about a black woman and a white man, the entire story.
Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, published by Viking Press, Page 27, and this book is considered suggested reading. Page 27: “You ain’t too d-a-m-n holy to take a drink, are you?” “And I hear she’s a s-o-n of a ______(female dog).” That is the Grapes of Wrath. You thought that was a good book, didn’t you? You are not checking, are you? Well now you know. You ought to say, “My child is not going to be subjected to stuff like this anymore.”
4. Sex. Coming into our schools are books, slides and filmstrips are not how babies are made. Now this is for our little children, little children in school. “How Babies Are Made” shows chickens and dogs in the act. It shows Mom and Dad in bed. It is climaxed with a few pictures of a nude mother giving birth to a baby who was conceived several pages earlier. That is being taught in our schools to little children. A coloring book of animals “in the act” is also available for the kiddies, as is a teacher’s guide which explains how babies are made. It “hopes to create an atmosphere of honesty and freedom of discussion concerning matters of reproduction, and to promote understanding and correct usage of the names of body parts.” This is for little children.
The teacher’s guide lists the following questions which are typical of those asked during a presentation of the story, “How Babies Are Made.” “When people lie down and face each other, does the woman become pregnant?” I cannot even read the rest of it, and I can’t believe they print this for little children.
LISTEN TO ME! If every deacon in this church walks out on me, and if every member of this church gets mad and quits, or this church rises up tonight and says “Don’t you preach what you are preaching or we will fire you,” you can have your church and I will be on my way. I am going to fight this dastardly attempt by the Devil and his crowd to wreck our children and destroy our boys and girls. Brother, don’t you think this is a one-time-only sermon; you will be getting it right along.
Now what can you do?
1. Get in a good church. You say, “I will pray about it.” You do not have to pray about that; just get in a good church. You say, “I will do what the Lord leads.” He is leading you out of that liberal church now. Get in a good church. You say, “Where is a good one?” Well, see me after the service and I will recommend one to you.
2. Get your child in all the activities of the church. All of them! When the doors open, get him here. Get Junior in the choir. “But he is thirteen; his voice is changing.” Okay, let him get up and sing sourly. That is how I sing all the time. Get him in the choir. You say, “He cannot sing.” Then let him hum. If he cannot hum, just let him move his mouth and pray nothing will come out. But you say, “Brother Hyles, Junior will not go.” Oh, brother. What in the world kind of parent are you? I dare my boy not to go when I say go. He is seventeen years old now and thinks he might be able to whip his dad, but I have some holds he does not know about. I will wring his neck if he does not obey me.
3. Get your child in the Christian school. I mean it folks. Do I have to get on my knees and talk to you? Do I have to beg you? I know, I sit in my office. I know what happens.
I am going to say this if it harelips every dog in this county. I am going to make somebody mad, but I am going to say it. I am going to take a chance on making all of you mad tonight to save your kids. When our kids come home from college, they do not have to tell me which ones are coming home from state universities. I can spot them. Now if that be treason, make the most of it. I am trying to help you. I have tried the best I could to keep your kids from going to those state colleges. I have preached and preached and screamed and pleaded and begged and hollered and cried and made folks mad and chased folks off, trying to keep your kids from going there. I am doing it again tonight.
Get your kids in the Christian school. We have here, on this platform, a man who has to take second place to no principal when it comes to scholarship and education. None at all. We have a faculty at our school that does not have to bow to anybody’s faculty.
Ladies and gentlemen, your children do not have to go to the Devil anymore. Furthermore, we are opening a college in September of 1972. That means not that a child can start at our schools when he is four years of age and stay there for 16 years. They do not have to go to the Devil.
4. Give. It is going to take a lot of money for us to do what we are going to do. I mean some of you ought to give some property. You say, “Brother Hyles, what would you do with it?” We may start a school on it. Or we may trade it for some property where we can start a school. Somebody who owns fifty acres ought to just give ten acres to the church, just give it. You say, “Brother Hyles, it is a long way off.” You ought to just give it anyway. Give it to the church. How we will use it, I do not know, but we will use it. Just give it to the church. Somebody ought to give enough land for a school in some neighborhood, and when the time comes, we will develop it and have a school there. Give.
Somebody ought to give a thousand or ten thousand dollars. Listen, it is the best money you have ever spent, investing in this kind of money for our children. Also, you ought to put First Baptist Church in your Will. I do not mean nest month, I mean this week. I mean now. Go down to your lawyer and say, “Put First Baptist Church in my Will so when I die, I will still be helping to carry on the program of First Baptist Church and what it is trying to do.
The thing that every person ought to do is tithe. I am calling on every member of this church to give ten percent of his income from now on. Everyone–every child, every man, every woman, every boy, every girl, every couple–everybody! We cannot rise up and build and do what God wants us to do, unless we give. We have to do it! It is time we called a national emergency on the Devil. Let us save our children.
Of course, many of you have closed minds. You do not want to be confused with the facts; your mind is made up. You are too scholarly. Your mind is closed. If you could have interviewed the kids in our school before they went to school here, and if you knew them now, you would be a believer.
They are your kids! I have tried for years, and I’ll keep on trying to help them. I am not against anything or anyone except wrong, but I am against wrong wherever it is! I know what I’m called. I hear what gangs of boys say when they drive by the church and see me getting into my car. I know what is said on the radio, the newscasts, and the call-in programs. I am a fanatic. They said that I am a bigot (Do you know what the word “bigot” is? Bigot is a word used by bigots to describe decent people.) Yes, I know! I was walking in a shopping center the other day, and three boys spit at me. I get the phone calls. I get the letters. I’m a fool, but I’m glad to be one if I can help save your kids! We have dedicated ourselves to try to do it! Won’t you let us?
As a pastor, when we are doing our best at the request of others to be of assistance in the lives of others, it’s frankly repulsive where we are today — that an individual can bring such undue and unfounded criticism.
Jonathan Morgan Pastor, Faith Memorial Church, Lancaster, Ohio
As many readers of this blog might remember, I spent a number years in central and southeast Ohio, pastoring congregations in Somerset and Buckeye Lake. In 1983, I started the Somerset Baptist Church, a congregation I would pastor for 11 years. During this time, John Maxwell pastored Faith Memorial Church in nearby Lancaster, Ohio. Faith Memorial, affiliated with the Churches of Christ in Christian Union, was, at the time, considered one of the fastest growing churches in America. Maxwell, a charismatic, winsome speaker, attracted large crowds of people wanting to hear him preach. Committed to the church growth principles of the 1970s and 1980s, Maxwell established a large bus ministry that brought hundreds of people to Faith Memorial.
I started Somerset Baptist Church using the same principles Maxwell was successfully using at Faith Memorial. The goal was to use whatever means necessary to attract people to the church. Once there, the gospel would be preached, and attendees given an opportunity to become Christians. The bus ministry was the single most effective method to get large numbers of people under the sound of the gospel. This is why virtually all the megachurches of the 1970s and 1980s had large bus ministries.
Our first church bus, purchased from Faith Memorial Church, Lancaster, Ohio in 1983.
The first bus we purchased at Somerset Baptist Church came from Faith Memorial. We paid $400 for the bus, an astronomical sum for a small, struggling church. This bus would provide many years of service until one day an inattentive driver failed to notice that the engine had zero oil pressure, resulting in engine failure. We junked this bus and bought a replacement, also from Faith Memorial.
John Maxwell would later leave Faith Memorial, becoming pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, California. He is now some sort of positive thinking guru, far afield from his days as a Fundamentalist pastor. After Maxwell left, Faith Memorial’s attendance began to decline. Today, as with virtually every church that bought into the church growth hype, Faith Memorial is a shell of what it once was. Few churches have bus ministries, and most of the churches that do are Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches that refuse to admit that this method of growing a church no longer works. Having heard IFB guru Jack Hyles implore them to NEVER, EVER QUIT, these preachers refuse to let go of their bus ministries. To quit means to admit failure, and if there is one thing IFB preachers are not known for doing, it is admitting failure.
I haven’t had a thought about Faith Memorial in many years; that is, until today. Evidently, Faith Memorial Church finds itself in a bit of a pickle over their involvement in various Fairfield County public schools Bible clubs. According to a February 22, 2016, Columbus Dispatch report:
Student Bible clubs in at least two Fairfield County schools have been temporarily suspended after administrators received a complaint that area religious leaders were heading the groups.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit group that serves as a watchdog over issues involving separation of church and state, sent letters to four school districts regarding Bible studies held in eight high schools, junior high schools and middle schools before class or on lunch breaks.
Such groups violate protections of separation of church and state if they are led or regularly attended by local pastors, said Ryan Jayne, a legal fellow at the Wisconsin-based foundation.
“Public school districts must ensure that student religious groups are genuinely student-initiated and student-run, and that outside adults do not regularly participate in the clubs,” said a letter from the group to Lancaster City Schools Superintendent Steve Wigton.
Similar letters were sent to the Bloom-Carroll Local School District, Fairfield Union Local Schools and Liberty Union-Thurston Local Schools.
Jayne said a community member, whom he declined to identify, saw the Bible clubs posted on the website of Fairfield Memorial Church in Lancaster. A screenshot of the now-removed web page said the groups are “led by volunteers or community youth pastors.”
The Rev. Jonathan Morgan, Faith Memorial pastor, said the complaint is “much ado about nothing” and that the Web page, along with some local church newsletters, was improperly worded.
Pastors do not lead the groups but have been invited to attend at times by students, he said, and there have been no concerns from administrators, principals, parents or students.
Attorney Sue Yount of Bricker & Eckler in Columbus has responded to the foundation on behalf of all four school districts.
“The districts are meeting with building principals and reviewing the parameters of the federal Equal Access Act,” Yount wrote in an email. “This Act provides for the right of students to hold religious activities on school grounds during non-instructional time, so long as the activities are student-initiated and student-led, with non-school persons not directing, controlling, or regularly attending.”
Morgan said the clubs have been “incredibly beneficial and longstanding” programs in the schools and that discrediting them would affect the well-being of students.
“As a pastor, when we are doing our best at the request of others to be of assistance in the lives of others, it’s frankly repulsive where we are today — that an individual can bring such undue and unfounded criticism,” he said.
According to Pastor Morgan, his church’s involvement in the supposedly student-led Bible clubs is little more than one of the students inviting someone from Faith Memorial to club meetings. And the statement on the church’s website that stated their involvement was leading the clubs? A poorly worded statement, say Morgan. According to Morgan, pastors who attend these clubs are there at the “request of others” to “be of assistance in the lives of others.” What I want to know is exactly what assistance did Faith Memorial, Pastor Morgan, and other Fairfield County pastors provide to local public school students?
Here is what I know. Faith Memorial is a Fundamentalist church pastored by man with Evangelical beliefs. I assume the Bible Clubs in question are Evangelical in nature. While I certainly support the right of Evangelical public school students to have their own clubs, when churches like Faith Memorial and pastors such as Jonathan Morgan actively participate in these clubs, they have crossed the line and are in violation of the principle of separation of church and state. Morgan would have us believe that he and his fellow pastors are just passive participants in student-led Bible clubs. Does anyone really believe this to be true? Are Evangelicals ever passive about anything? Of course not.
Evangelical pastors go to these clubs to steer students towards the right beliefs and practices. I am sure there are discussions about how to effectively evangelize non-Christian students. I am sure there are also discussions about the culture war hot buttons: abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and premarital sex. And I am sure that Morgan and his fellow passive pastors would be outraged if students of a Satanist or secularist persuasion started a Godless club and began having local Satanists or secularist leaders materially participate in the clubs. In fact, I suspect these passive pastors would strongly oppose the very existence of these clubs. After all, Evangelicals are not known for tolerance of competing worldviews.
While Fairfield County Evangelicals will likely see the Freedom of Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) actions as much to do about nothing, supporters of FFRF rightly understand that if you give Evangelicals an inch they will take a mile. Let Faith Memorial, Pastor Morgan, and his merry band of passive pastors actively participate in these Bible clubs, and they will only want more access to students. Remember, the goal of men like Morgan is the conversion of every Fairfield County public school student to Evangelical Christianity. Fueled by their belief that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text — a text that commands them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature — these proselytizing Fundamentalists will not rest until every student is singing What a Friend we Have in Jesus. And it is for this reason, they must be stopped.
Several days ago, Polly and I traveled to Jackson, Michigan to have dinner with Sergio and Russ, two people I had met through this blog and Facebook. Russ talked about how he had been exposed to a variety of Christian sects and how this cornucopia of beliefs caused him to be skeptical of religion. Teenage Russ quickly figured out that no two sects had the same beliefs. Each sect had different beliefs, yet all of them supposedly worshiped the same God. Russ rightly wondered, if they are all worshiping the same God, why is this God giving each sect different beliefs? Questions such as this ultimately resulted in Russ rejecting religion and embracing atheism.
Polly and I grew up in Fundamentalist Christian homes. Neither of us can remember a time when we weren’t part of an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. After high school, both of us attended an IFB college, Midwestern Baptist College. We met, married, and several years later began pastoring IFB churches. We were in our thirties before we attended a church outside of the IFB church movement. Indoctrinated in the one, true IFB faith, we were certain that our sect and its beliefs were the faith once delivered to the saints. While we grudgingly admitted that there were Christians in other sects, we believed that our sect was the only one that had the right beliefs. Not only did we have the right beliefs, we also had a pure lineage that reached all the way back to Jesus and John the Baptist. While we would eventually abandon the IFB church movement for the friendlier confines of generic Evangelicalism, it would be another 20 years before we left Christianity.
By being exposed to a plethora of beliefs, Russ was able, at an early age, to conclude that Christianity was false. Polly and I, on the other hand, having been exposed only to a narrow set of beliefs, spent five decades of our life in the Evangelical church before we could extricate ourselves from its hold on our lives. Sergio had a similar background, having been raised in an Evangelical home. He spoke of the anger that came when he realized he had wasted much of his adult life believing a lie. And not just believing, but diligently trying to live according to the precepts of Evangelical Christianity. Polly and I had similar anger and regret. It is hard not to be bitter when thinking about wasting the most productive, healthy years of your life worshiping a mythical God.
Which path should children be encouraged to follow — that of Russ or that of Bruce, Polly, and Sergio? I think most agnostics and atheists would agree that blind devotion to religious dogma harms children and robs of them the critical things skills necessary to help them understand life. Instead of being immersed in Christianity, children are better served if they are exposed to a wide spectrum of religious beliefs, including non-Christian religions.
I have long advocated that public high school students be required to take a comparative religion class. Such a class would expose students to the various world religions and their teachings. Once exposed, like Russ, they will be in the position to compare religions. Since most public school students come from Christian homes, this means they would be exposed to religions different from their own. This exposure would provide an effective inoculation from Fundamentalism and religious bigotry.
Evangelicals continue to demand that the various trappings of the Christian religion be reintroduced in the public schools. Often, Evangelicals will argue that morality requires religion, and it is our duty to give students a moral and ethical foundation. Fine, I say. Every school then should require high school students to take a comparative religion class. Middle school and elementary students should regularly be exposed to a variety of religious beliefs, taught from a historical perspective. What better way to turn out well-rounded students than to expose them to a variety of beliefs, including atheism, agnosticism, humanism, paganism, and Satanism? Doing this prepares students for choosing their own non-religious/religious path. By the time students graduate they will have a sufficient understanding of religion and will be in the position to choose accordingly.
Surely Evangelicals want their children to have all the facts about religion, including Christianity. Surely, they don’t want their children making ill-informed decisions about God and salvation. Well, actually Evangelicals don’t want their children to be exposed other religions. Instead, Evangelicals diligently indoctrinate their children into what they believe is the one true faith. Children born into Evangelical homes are bombarded with calls to put their faith and trust in Jesus. Sunday school teachers and children’s church workers use manipulative and high pressure techniques to induce children into asking Jesus into their heart. If children make it through the primary years unsaved, they are handed off to youth directors who “encourage” them to put their faith and trust in Jesus. The goal is to make sure children are saved and on the narrow path before they become young adults. Church leaders know if unsaved children reach adulthood they are often “lost” forever.
The next time you hear Evangelicals clamoring for Christianity to be reintroduced into the public schools, ask them if they would support teaching students about other religions. Keep pressing them until they admit that what they really want is a religious monoculture. In their minds there is no King but Jesus and no religious truth but the Bible. If left to their own devices, many Evangelicals would burn freedom of religion at the stake and turn the United States into a theocracy. Exposing Evangelical children to other religions is crucial in our attempts to beat back theocratic thinking. Once exposed, religious extremism loses its power.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post titled Ken Ham Warns Atheists Are Out to Steal Your Children and Eat Them Too. While this post was lost in a server crash, I was able to recover the part of the post that resulted in Ken Ham asking his devoted Facebook followers to pray for me:
…Teaching children the earth is 6,000 years old, that God killed with a flood every human being save eight a few thousand years ago, and that anyone who does not accept the Evangelical version of the Christian God will be tortured by the Evangelical God in hell for eternity, is quite harmful to the intellectual development of children.
The waiting rooms of mental health professionals are filled with people who have had their sense of self-worth damaged or destroyed by Christian teachings like original sin. Being told you are wicked, that you can be oppressed or possessed by Satan, and that God holds absolute power of your life, does not make for a healthy mind,
So, to Ken Ham, I say this: Yes we are coming for your children. We hope to expose them to the wide, wondrous universe we live in. We hope to teach them to think critically and not to accept something as fact just because a preacher said or God said __________________.
I am not anti-Christian or anti-religion. I am, however, anti-ignorance. I think parents hurt their children when they keep them from ALL the knowledge available about the universe and their place in it…
Instead of praying for me, the Hamites, a species related to the Dodo Bird, went on the offensive, and in doing so they exposed their ignorance about and hatred for atheists. Here’s what some of Ham’s disciples had to say:
Start of Quotes
The level of pure hatred in their writings are almost palpable. They are the blind, leading the blind right into Hell!
Should not their own venomous hatred be a warning to them that they are not thinking clearly and rationally? How can they possibility imagine that they are walking in truth when they are eaten up with bitterness and loathing?
And as is highly typical of skeptics, they use lots of insults and personal attacks. In fact, insults are their personal mark and business card. Remember too – Satan is called the accuser of the brethren.
Sad for them. Their hearts are hardened.
evil is cancer…it spreads quickly everywhere…it destorys the ability to think or even reason…the worldly mind just cannot understand the wisdom of God. Praise God for grace.
So much anger and hatred. Just proves, in my mind, that this is a spiritual battle.
I really think the average Christian needs to have a better quick come back for the “God said” “God is speaking to me” and why the Bible is true… Those objections are voiced over and over again and I find the average Christian raised in our churches today simply has no good quick answer….
Jesus said we would be hated by this world because it hated Him first. Also all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
“we are coming for your children.” Over my dead body.
“We are coming for your children” … Arrogant, conceited, rude and intrusive, aren’t they?
This may be the most difficult part of being a Christian, Ken: standing in the face of uncalled-for hatred. Perhaps we should all think of Jesus being nailed to the cross as we hear this kind of nonsensical hatred. Their pride will destroy them. Repentance is the only way….
While we MUST expose the wiles of the evil one, we must also remember that apart from the Grace of God, many of us would likely be in the same position they are in. Jesus warned us that in the End Times there would be a great deception and this is obvious. It is only by the Grace of God that we do not fall for this deception. We are indeed in a war and our enemy does not play fair. Fortunately, we fight with a Commander-in-Chief who also does not fight fair. Our Commander wins…PERIOD because he overcame death, sin, the grave, deception, and every other weapon the enemy throws at us. NO WEAPON formed against us shall prosper. The lies, the hate, the slander, the fear, all the weapons these atheists throw at us shall not prosper.
These atheists are not as secure as they present themselves to be. The truth of God’s Word dispels darkness. Be encouraged Ken. “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” Romans 5:20
The claim that Bible belief and teaching retards the thinking of young people is not true. Since the Bible is true, that would be impossible! If science from the beginning had believed and searched the scriptures, there would have been more progress. For example, science once believed in bleeding people to make them feel better, a flat earth, and more. Bible knowledge would have prevented those errors of “science” along with the impossible theory of evolution – the “belief” that everything came from nothing with no influence from any power or intelligence. Now that’s retarded thinking.
And again we see the humanists’ “tolerance”!
I’m interested in reading these updates, but I’d like to follow up on something you wrote above. I have NEVER met anyone who hates God, ever. I’ve never heard anyone say that. They do hate us and our interpretation of God’s word (truth!).
Thank you for sharing. It is so sad that the lost cannot understand the truth and their deception turns their anger towards those who proclaim the truth. We need to understand those on the other side to know how to combat their influence.
Wow…such hatred. I think it is sad that the Christians use to be dogmatic, and that crowd was quiet, and now it has flipped around. They are dogmatic, and the Christians have become the quiet ones. And the gall of people like this to discredit all Creationists, and especially to discredit the credentials of scientists who are Creationists, is unjust. These scientists have payed for their education, and spent as much of their life in school, as the secular scientists, and so it is unjust to claim that these guys are dumb and stupid.
Never forget a man got up and walked out of the grave……….Atheists are such fools.
He needs to know that we don’t believe in the 7 day creation because a pastor said “God said,” but because God said! We need to stick to the word. Thanks Mr Ken.
if God is not real, why would I waste my time arguing or caring about what Christians thought….nothing meanings anything if there is no God….so I would spend my time in as much pleasure and selfishness as possible as I only have maybe 80 years of meaningless existence…I would not want to waste a second on science or Christianity…who cares?…the fact they oppose so strongly shows they are scared and insecure in their own beliefs
I asked a few Athiest once, why do you talk about God so much if God doesn’t exist? Why do you mock it? An Athiest told me its because of all the violence and wars. And I asked if that is true. Why is it a Christian God and not any other gods, for example Allah the god of Islam?.. I have personally paid attention to the media and tv shows that would make fun of religion. And also been in Philosophy classes where they would bring up a Christian God most of the time. Even they say Christianity copied other religions when it was the other way around they pic and choose things. Indeed we are living in the End times I believe. More Christians are being persecuted there was/still is being more Christians being persecuted in the last century than the 1900 years after 0A.D all together. The Lord has really told me that He is my shield. And to have full Faith in Him. As I’ve been reading Scripture lately.
The claim that Bible belief and teaching retards the thinking of young people is not true. Since the Bible is true, that would be impossible! If science from the beginning had believed and searched the scriptures, there would have been more progress. For example, science once believed in bleeding people to make them feel better, a flat earth, and more. Bible knowledge would have prevented those errors of “science” along with the impossible theory of evolution – the “belief” that everything came from nothing with no influence from any power or intelligence. Now that’s retarded thinking.
“The claim that Bible belief and teaching retards the thinking of young people is not true.” Why ? The “Bible is true”, Swearingen says. Talk about circular reasoning; the Bible is true because the Bible says it is true.
Bloodletting? A procedure performed on the sick for 1,900 years, long before the modern scientific era. Numerous Christians and clergymen were bled by Christian doctors. All of them had the Bible at their disposal, yet none of them found the “truth” about bloodletting. It took scientists, not theologians, to find out that, in most cases, bloodletting does not help the sick.
Flat earth? Evidently, Swaringen is not aware that the flat earth belief came, in part, from the Bible. Daniel 4:10, Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1, Matthew 4:8 (Excellent article (link no longer active) by Adrian Swindler on the relevant Bible passages that teach the earth is flat. Here’s another article (link no longer active) by Swindler about the one time common belief that the earth was flat)
There would be more progress if science believed the Bible? Really? What about the scientists who were killed for going against the Bible and the teachings of the Christian church? What does history tells us about countries that have a religious-text based science? Look at the Muslim world and see what happens when theology trumps science.
Science does make errors, but it correct them. When’s the last time the Don Swaringen’s of the world have “corrected” an error in their Bible or theology? Everyone now…NEVER!
Almost a hundred years after the Scopes Trial, Christian fundamentalists continue to demand creationism be taught in public school classrooms. Whether through young earth or old earth creationism or their gussied up sister intelligent design, fundamentalists want to teach theology in place of sound science. Publicly, they appeal to the American sense of fairness. Teach the controversy, they say with fingers crossed behind their back. Except there is no controversy. Court after court has ruled that creationism has no place in the public school classroom.
Yet, despite almost a century of litigation and scientific advancement, fundamentalists in Ohio are attempting once again to have their peculiar theology taught as a valid scientific theory. On July 29, Ohio Republican representatives Andy Thompson and Matt Huffman introduced House Bill 597 (HB 597) that would subtly pave the way for creationism to be taught in the science classroom.
HB 597 states “The standards in science shall be based in core existing disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics; incorporate grade-level mathematics and be referenced to the mathematics standards; focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another,”
While the defenders of God and creationism will quickly point out that the bill does not mention creationism, its language opens the door for teaching the non-controversy “controversy”. Representative Thompson’s recent statement concerning the bill leaves little doubt about the objective of his bill. Thompson stated, “I think it would be good for [students] to consider the perspectives of people of faith. That’s legitimate.”
If Thompson is speaking about a high school philosophy or world religion class I would agree with him. I have long supported high school students being required to take a class in philosophy and world religion. In a world religion class students could learn about the various creation myths and how best to interpret and understand them.
However, fundamentalists don’t want their beliefs reduced to a chapter in a world religion textbook. They don’t want just a seat at the table; they want to be the only seat at the table. Their belief system demands certainty, exclusion, and fidelity. In their worldview, there is no place for open, honest discussion about religion and creationism. In their mind, there is one true creation story and that story is found in a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3.
Creationists want students taught that Genesis 1-3 is the Christian God’s blueprint for the creation of everything. The universe is 6,000 years old, and according to creationist hero James Ussher, the earth was created the evening before Oct. 23, 4004 B.C. Everything that biology, archeology, astronomy, and geology tells us about the universe contradicts the creationist story. If we want our children and grandchildren taught sound science then we must make sure that creationists are not permitted to sneak their theology into the classroom. Theology belongs in the church and home, not the public school classroom.
Let’s hope reason and science rescues Ohio students from HB 597.