Living in an Increasingly Secular Society: How Taking Religion out of Schools Promotes Ignorance - Dr. Paul Kengor
Another “Holiday Season” is behind us. And every such season, the purge of religion in our public schools just gets worse. In fact, the season now serves to remind us of one thing for certain: the God-purgers are on an unyielding secular crusade that gets more self-righteous ever year.
This past season seemed to reach new levels of absurdity. What we’re seeing now is remarkable not only for its vigorous assault against everything religious, but for the apparent willingness by secularists to embrace ignorance and sophistry in the process. They are willing to make their students—whom they’re supposed to educate—dumb about historical reality and to look downright silly in the process. I’ll illustrate with two examples, starting with this past Thanksgiving, the kick-off of the long “Holiday Season.”
It was fascinating to observe the new tendency by our educators to frame Thanksgiving Day as about anything but giving thanks to God. I detailed this at length a few weeks ago, and will not revisit it fully here, but I checked out the Thanksgiving Day lesson at the website education.com, a go-to source for teachers. On the main page was a lesson plan titled, “Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving.” The lesson did back-flips in a painfully obvious attempt to mention giving thanks to anything but God. There were bountiful references to Native Americans, corn, stuffing, and turkeys, but nothing of the Almighty. The Creator even got trumped by cranberry sauce.
There was nothing in the “lesson” plan about the salient historical fact that the Pilgrims fled religious persecution, that their Thanksgiving feast was about giving thanks to God, and that Presidents Washington and Lincoln—not to mention a long line of White House successors, including the most liberal among them, from Woodrow Wilson to FDR—honored a national day of Thanksgiving for that reason.
This is historical fraud, forgery, perjury. I ask my secular-liberal friends: Is it any wonder why so many people are homeschooling? You can dislike religion, if you prefer. You can even despise it. But a truly “inclusive” education cannot exclude such essential historical facts.
So, what kind of child are these secularists educating? One who will not even learn what the original Thanksgiving was truly about or why our early presidents enacted the day to begin with.
As for Christmas, where do I start to illustrate the madness?
Well, this year the award goes to an elementary school in Kentucky, where the Constitutional geniuses at the Johnson County School District censored from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” the subversive section where Linus recites the Gospel of Luke’s nativity narrative. Sure, the school couldn’t avoid the title “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” but it would not dare tread on any explanation of what “Christmas” is.
The irony here is rich. Consider that Linus’ dialogue is prompted by a question from Charlie Brown, who in exasperation pleads: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus explains, giving an accurate answer from the New Testament. Most ironic, Linus holds forth in front of fellow students in a public-school auditorium.
Like students today, Linus’ friends are free to believe or not believe, but at least they will not be ignorant.
It makes me wonder what this school’s officials would have preferred that the kids watch instead. I have some suggestions for their curriculum next year: How about the old Rankin-Bass productions? “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” has some intriguing stuff about a Winter Warlock. The old guy officiates the first Christmas wedding (so I’m told) in the woods around the North Pole with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Or, how about “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?” The kids can take notes wide-eyed as they learn about how Santa and Rudolph swept down and saved Christmas not only for the entire world that year (no Christmas that year otherwise) but even for the poor souls on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Hey, at least Jesus Christ is avoided. That’s the chief goal, right?
In sum, what all of this makes plain is that our secularists prefer not only ignorance over religion for their students, but sophistry.
And why? Because they want to fundamentally transform, to borrow from the signature phrase of our current president. To really fundamentally transform America and the culture, they need to remove as much religion as possible, period.
And when they do, this is the gift of ignorance and sophistry they bestow.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative. His other books include The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.