Yes, there is religion in public schools – WORLD News Group


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Parents protesting in Loudoun County, Va., in June
Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

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A wave of rage engulfed public school districts across the United States last year, beginning with the highly publicized protests
against critical race theory in Loudoun County, Va., in June. Many parents, particularly in wealthier suburban districts, have woken up to the fact that schoolrooms have increasingly been converted into catechism classes for the new religion of wokeness that, for many spiritually impoverished Americans, has rapidly expanded to fill the void left by a collapsing Christianity. Such an awakening is long overdue.
Although much of the furor over critical race theory can be overblown, it is becoming clear that over the past decade, many educators across the country have increasingly embraced a mission of reconditioning students suspected of harboring “systemic racism.” We would be foolish to deny the presence of lingering racism in American society. But we would be even more foolish to ignore the religious dimensions of the anti-racist agenda. Anti-racism divides the world into sinners and saints and establishes rituals of self-renunciation and repentance so one might be transformed from the former to the latter. The very language of wokeness mirrors evangelical regeneration theology: Its recitations of complicity and “white fragility” fill the role of the Sinners’ Prayer, and its demand that the converted engage in activism mimics the evangelistic fervor of American Protestantism.
The recent revolt of parents against school boards, then, is a revolt against progressivist religion in public schools. It’s an encouraging development, but one that reveals the shortsightedness of the American church. After all, there has always been some kind of religion in public schools.
Up through the 1960s, broadly Protestant or generically Christian theology was instilled in public school students through prayers, recitations, and even times of taxpayer-funded religious instruction. Since a series of radical post–World War II court decisions sought to purge any public recognition of Christianity from government schools, a de facto atheism has taken its place, characterized by skepticism about the supernatural, impiety toward the past, and rebellion against nature.

If American parents have finally woken up to the realities of public education, it is important that they learn the right lesson.

While for decades, many Christians accepted the privatization of their religion and swallowed the lie that public education was neutral with respect to the great questions of man’s nature, moral obligations, and place in the universe, progressives knew better. Nature abhors a vacuum, and those willing to stake a claim on reality quickly filled that vacuum. What’s shocking is not that Christian parents (roughly 85 percent of whom still send their kids to public schools) have recently reacted against the false religion being foisted on their children, but that it has taken so many of them so long to recognize it for what it is.
Most Christian parents sat placidly on the sidelines while their children were told that religion is a purely human construct that stifled their freedom, then that nature was a human construct that stifled their freedom, and then that even sexuality was a human construct that stifled their freedom. Only when their children were challenged to repent of their whiteness did most of these parents mobilize to push back.
Still, late is better than never. But if American parents have finally woken up to the realities of public education, it is important that they learn the right lesson. The solution is not to turn back the clock a few years and insist that schools resume their neutral task of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Education is always a matter of at least four R’s—religious education is inescapable.
Once upon a time, public education in America answered to local communities, not federal guidelines. And these local communities insisted that the schools promote their values, their vision of virtue, to their children. Many communities today are too diverse and too bewildered to coalesce around any vision of virtue to pass on to the next generation. But others are not, and in school districts where Christians still constitute a cultural majority, they have a right to expect that their own public schools will not subvert the faith of their children. In any event, the progressivist religion of the moment needs to be exposed for the religion it is.

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