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Religious school curricula: a potent mix of religion and politics

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The great majority of voucher and education tax credit schools around the country are religious schools.  For instance, in Florida’s six year-old education tax credit program that was, in many ways, a model for the New Hampshire program, over 73% of the schools, with 83% of the students, are  religious schools.  This ratio of religious schools is typical in voucher programs around the country.  While some are the traditional Catholic schools, the fundamentalist Christian schools are at the heart of the push  for voucher tax credits. In fact, voucher and religious school leaderships are so intertwined, you could almost say that the voucher movement is really about moving public dollars in Christian-based education.  But it’s not just Christian education, it’s the conservative Christian political views that have become familiar in the political arena. You see it in this recent speech by Tim LaHaye, high profile minister, writer and Christian school entrepreneur on the Christian Right:

…We are being destroyed in America by the public school systems of our country….and I’d like to see you join me in prayer that God would let us wrestle control of the American school system from the secularists, the anti-Christians and anti-Americans that want to bend the minds of our children. At our expense, they want to take the most priceless thing we have -the brains of our children – and let them educate them….That doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m hoping that this conservative movement will be long enough to get a majority who can vote what I consider a new bill of rights – a bill of parental rights where parents can decide where to send their children to school.

Pastor LaHaye is making the same voucher pitch Milton Friedman did, but stirring his theology into it.   The “parental rights” rap he uses is the rational for many bills, including the voucher tax credit, offered by libertarian conservatives in the New Hampshire Legislature.  Pastor LaHaye continues:

I once started the San Diego Christian school system and it grew to be the second largest Christian school system in America…but there are limitations, and in this economic turndown it’s wrong for parents to pay their taxes to miss educate people in the public sector of education and then in order to have an alternative, turn around and pay tuition in a Christian school or a private school or wherever – a charter school. If you want an education for your children, we need to take control and make parents the guarantors of their children’s education. You do not have to be a professional educator to educate your children; you have to be a concerned parent, taxpayer, and servant of God in the scope of American history….The huge debt that we have all heard about is not just a financial debt but the debt of not having a thorough going biblically-based education…..I suggest more money is not what they need, it is a better ideology, and we have already got it.

And here, from a few days ago, is Joe Blast, CEO of The Heartland Institute speaking to conservatives in Wisconsin:

So long as government owns and operates 90 percent of the schools in the United States, we have no right to expect that fewer than 90 percent of students who graduate are socialists.

As Milton Friedman once said, we have no right to expect cats to bark or dogs to meow. So why should we expect government schools to do anything other than produce graduates who support more government? It’s a cruel thing to say, but it’s true.

Against this background, it is no surprise that the curriculum packages used in many religious schools are a potent mix of conservative religion and conservative politics.  There are 71 religious in New Hampshire.    Many use one or more of the organizations below as the source of their curricula.  You will see many familiar elements the conservative Christian belief system baked into the curricula in ways that taxpayers would never normally accept.  We should almost make a new category called “political religious schools” for those that use these curricula. 

Here is a slide show you can click through quickly to get an idea of the tone and approach of these materials.

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Accelerated Christian Education (ACE)

ACE is a conservative Creationist curriculum used in at least 3 New Hampshire schools.  Here what ACE says about itself:

Godly character training is part of the A.C.E. learning experience….Students can observe character development in the true-to-life character strips and then apply the Godly character lessons to their own lives….the A.C.E. program is an extraordinary educational approach, Biblical in its core….The curriculum conveys Biblical values and concepts considered foundational to meaningful interpersonal relationships and productive learning in such a way as to become life-shaping influences….Accelerated Christian Education—a unique program for this time in history—is building Godly citizens and Christian leaders of tomorrow.

Here is an overview of the ACE curriculum that contains statements like the following:

  • Biblical and scientific evidence seems to indicate that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time…. Fossilized tracks in the bed of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, also give evidence that men and dinosaurs existed simultaneously. Fossilized human footprints and three-toed dinosaur tracks occur in the same rock stratum…. That dinosaurs existed with humans is an important discovery disproving the evolutionists’ theory that dinosaurs lived 70 million years before man. God created dinosaurs on the sixth day. He created man later the same day.” (Science 1099, ACE, 1996, p. 29)
  • “True science will never contradict the Bible because God created both the universe and Scripture…If a scientific theory contradicts the Bible, then the theory is wrong and must be discarded.” (Science 1096, ACE, 1996, p. 9.)
  • By integrating character-building principles and Scripture memory into the academics, the program helps children grow to see life from God’s point of view.” (The Great Commandment, ACE, 1999, back cover)
  • “The Accelerated Christian Education program and curriculum is built upon the Word of God.” (The Great Commandment, ACE, 1999, p. 28)
  • “No branch of true science would make these kind of impossible claims without proof. Because evolutionists do not want to believe the only alternative – that the universe was created by God – they declare evolution is a fact and believe its impossible claims without any scientific proof!” (Science 1107,  ACE 1996, p.24)
  • “South Africa’s apartheid policy encouraged whites, Blacks, Coloureds, and Asians to develop their own independent ways of life. Separate living area and schools made it possible for each group to maintain and pass on their culture and heritage to their children….Blacks in South Africa earn more money and have higher standards of living than Blacks in other African countries.” (Social Studies 1099, ACE, 1996, p. 27)
  • “The first and second laws of thermodynamics demonstrate what the Bible tells about the creation of new matter or energy. Things change, but they degenerate. These laws also demonstrate that the Genesis account of Creation is consistent with scientific evidence.” ( Science 1096, ACE, 1996, p. 7)
  • “This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. For the change, to have taken place many transitional forms would have been developed. However, no transitional fossils have been or will ever be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsman fashioned them all.” (Science 1099, ACE, 1996, p. 30)
  • “Some people mistakenly believe that an individual is born a homosexual and his attraction to those of the same sex is normal. Because extensive tests have shown that there is no biological difference between homosexuals and others, these tests seem to prove that homosexuality is a learned behaviour. The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin. In Old Testament times, God commanded that homosexuals be put to death. Since God never commanded death for normal or acceptable actions, it is as unreasonable to say that homosexuality is normal as it is to say that murder or stealing is normal.” (Science 1107, ACE, 1996, p. 10)
  • “Some scientists speculate that Noah took small or baby dinosaurs on the Ark…. are dinosaurs still alive today? With some recent photographs and testimonies of those who claimed to have seen one, scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence…Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short, has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”  (Science 1099, ACE, 1996)
  • “The substance of truth, ideals, and absolutes is on the right. Evil does not have substance: it is a departure from, and absence of the substance of, good. The left is the farthest extreme from that basic substance… Men on the left cannot walk in wisdom….The closer government is to God’s absolutes, the more righteous it is. The farther it is to the left, the less righteous it will be.  Politicians who reject God’s absolutes and believe in extensive government regulations are called liberals. They are way over on the left and are very humanistic.”  (Wisdom supplement to an English text, 1987)
  • “Although [President Kennedy’s] New Frontier sounds good, it was as socialistic as the New Deal and the Fair Deal had been.” (Social Studies 1095, ACE, 1992, p.21)
  • “The New Deal programs were based on the humanistic, socialistic philosophy that the ‘end justifies the means.’ To achieve FDR’s goal of halting the depression, Congress was willing to spend more than it had. Because of this overspending, the government raised taxes.” (Social Studies 1094, ACE, 1990, p.6)
  • “Later, more direct forms of government aid, such as Medicare and Medicaid were funded by social security. Like many other government programs, these programs are socialistic.”  (Social Studies 1094, ACE, 1990, p.6)

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A Beka Book

  • From Some Thoughts on Thinking: “The Godgiven ministry of Christian schools is to lead young people to Christ and train them in the Bible, Christian character, language, and traditional subject matter. Today’s students need to be taught the accumulated wisdom of the past from God’s point of view and trained in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6) so they will have a firm foundation from which to evaluate the present and make proper decisions for the future….the basis of critical thinking is the ability to come to well-reasoned judgments supported by biblical principles.
  • From The Lessons of History: “We can without hesitation present political conservatism as the Christian’s proper response to America’s glorious heritage because of our Biblical perspective. The Christian teacher should teach the Scriptural principles upon which America was founded and instill within the students the desire and the intelligence to remain true to those principles which establish political and religious freedom through republican self-government and separation of church and state. Only as our citizens understand these principles and order their lives in light of them can we continue to progress as a people and retain our religious and political freedoms. Only as we teach the freedom and dignity of the individual under God can we produce responsible citizens who can be a just authority for future generations.”
  • “The A Beka Book Science Program presents the universe as the direct creation of God and refutes the man-made idea of evolution. Further, the books present God as the Great Designer and Lawgiver.” (A Beka marketing materials)
  • Economics: Work and Prosperity in Christian Perspective (Economics:  Work and Prosperity in Christian Perspective, vol. 2; A Beka, 1999)
    • “Some of [Milton Friedman’s] practical ideas include the abolishment of the United States’ public school system and Social Security Program.”
    • “…many of the ‘crises’ on the environmentalists’ agenda are simply not supported by scientific evidence….and are promoted by environmentalists for destructive reasons.”
    • “True world peace will only be possible after Jesus Christ comes to rule and reign” (photo)
  • An eighth grade civics text, under the heading “A Liberal Supreme Court,”: “The Supreme Court made several liberal decisions in the 1970s, indicating the moral decline of the nation as a whole.” (America:  Land That I Love; A Beka, 1994)
  • “Modern liberalism has had many tragic consequences — war, tyranny, and despair — for mankind.”  (World History and Cultures in Christian Perspective, vol. 3; A Beka, 1995)
  • Describing Roe v. Wade: “Ignoring 3,500 years of Judeo-Christian civilization, religion, morality, and law, the Burger Court held that an unborn child was not a living person but rather the ‘property’ of the mother (much like slaves were considered property in the 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford).” (American Government in Christian Perspective, vol. 2; A Beka, 1997)
  • A civics text says,  “God’s original purpose for government was to punish the evil and reward the good…..All governments are ordained by God, but none compare to government by God, theocracy.”  (American Government in Christian Perspective, 2nd ed. (Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book, 1997),p. 19
  • In a high school history text, under the heading “Liberalism in American Life”:  The “most destructive idea to sweep the nation in the 20th century was Charles Darwin’s doctrine of evolution”(United States History:  Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed. Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book, 1996, P. 520)
  • Under the subtitle “Socialist Propaganda” the same text says “Perhaps the best known work of propaganda to come from the Depression was John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath….Other forms of propaganda included rumors of mortgage foreclosures, mass evictions, and hunger riots and exaggerated statistics representing the number of unemployed and homeless people in America.”
  • Commentary on the Vietnam War states that it divided the country into the “hawks who supported the fight against Communism, and doves, who were soft on Communism.”   (United States History:  Heritage of Freedom, vol. 2; A Beka, 1996)
  • “It is no wonder that Satan hates the family and has hurled his venom against it in the form of Communism…….history shows socialism gradually opens the door to Communism.” (American Government in Christian Perspective, 2nd ed. (Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book, 1997, p. 31)
  • A high school text, describing President Bill Clinton’s administration, says “The First Lady announced that she would personally lead the effort to implement a plan for socialized medicine in the United States. (United States History:  Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed. (Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book, 1996, p. 670)
  • An economic text says that global warming is a theory that is “simply not supported by scientific evidence…..Global environmentalists have said and written enough to leave no doubt that their goal is to destroy the prosperous economies of the world’s richest nations.” (Economics: Work and Prosperity in Christian Perspective, 2nd ed., Pensacola, Fl: A Beka Book, 1999, p. 253)
  • The A Beka Web site advertises its fifth-grade text, Observing God’s World, as,
    • “This teachable, readable, and memorable book presents the universe as the direct creation of God and refutes the idea of man-made evolution.”
    • A section on the origin of the universe retells the Genesis story of creation and states, “Throughout history there have been people, even scientists, who have thought up their own stories of how things came to be.”
  •  ”The Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross to target bootleggers, wife beaters and immoral movies.  In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians.” (United States History for Christian Schools, vol. 2; A Beka, 1991)
  •  ”Unlike the ‘modern math’ theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, A Beka teaches that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute.  A Beka provides attractive, legible, and workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory.” (A Beka marketing materials, 2012)
  • “Only about 10% of Africans can read and write.”(“Old World History & Geography”, 3rd Edition, A Beka Book, 1999)  The actual figure in 1999 was 57%
  • “…President Roosevelt..wrote..saying that a United Nations could help people by using ‘scientific’ methods and…’live together, in the same world, at peace.’…but peace comes from a kind of understanding that science can never bring.  Roosevelt did not understand this….Unfortunately the United Nations failed to end wars and bring about world peace…Over 1 billion people have been slaves under Communism…The United Nations has not been able to preserve the rights of these people.  Many people think it has actually helped to spread Communism.  (6th grade: New World History and Geography, A Beka Book, 4th ed, 2010, p. 240)
  • “General McArthur wisely recognized that the greatest need of the Japanese was to hear the gospel….At his request, the Pocket Testament League distributed 10 million Bibles in Japanses…President Truman later sent McArthur home because McArthur wanted to pursue the Communists into China.”   (6th grade: New World History and Geography, A Beka Book, 4th ed, 2010, p. 239)

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Bob Jones University Press

  • About Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education the high school civic text says, “While the end was a noble one — ending discrimination in schools — the means were troublesome.” The text continues, “liberals were not willing to wait for a political solution.” (Teacher’s Resource Guide to Current Events for Christian Schools, 1998 – 1999, Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1998, p. 34.)
  • Concerning slavery in America, a Bob Jones high school text states, “To help them endure the difficulties of slavery, God gave Christian slaves the ability to combine the African heritage of song with the dignity of Christian praise. Through the Negro spiritual, the slaves developed the patience to wait on the Lord and discovered that the truest freedom is from the bondage of sin.” (United States History:  Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed., Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book, 1996, p. 219)
  • A science text has a chapter called “Biblical Creationism,” claiming that evolution cannot be a part of science, since it can not be observed and must be accepted by faith.  It goes on to say, “From a Christian standpoint, there are only two worldviews from which to choose — a Christian worldview or a non-Christian worldview. The most important beliefs in a Christian worldview are the beliefs that the Bible is the Word of God and the only completely reliable thing in this world.”  Life Science with Student Activities, 3rd ed., Greenville, SC:  Bob Jones University Press, 2007, p. 527
  •  A history text says, “The seeds of error that took root in the fourth and fifth centuries blossomed during the  Middle Ages into the Roman Catholic Church – a perversion of biblical Christianity.(David A. Fisher, World History for Christian Schools Teachers Edition, 2nd ed (Greenville SC Bob Jones University Press, 1994)
  • The text suggests that sedimentary fossils were formed in Noah’s flood. One and a half pages are dedicated to the possibility that the Bible refers to dinosaurs and closes with the warning, “Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years.” (Life Science with Student Activities, 3rd ed., Greenville, SC:  Bob Jones University Press, 2007, p. 134) (bible 1)
  •  ”[Homosexuals] have no more claims to special rights than child molesters or rapists.” (Teacher’s Resource Guide to Current Events for Christian Schools; Bob Jones University Press, 1999)
  • “A few slave holders were undeniably cruel. Examples of slaves beaten to death were not common, neither were they unknown. The majority of slave holders treated their slaves well.”(United States History for Christian Schools, 2nd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 1991)
  • “[Is] it possible that a fire-breathing animal really existed? Today some scientists are saying yes. They have found large chambers in certain dinosaur skulls…The large skull chambers could have contained special chemical-producing glands. When the animal forced the chemicals out of its mouth or nose, these substances may have combined and produced fire and smoke.” (Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007)
  •  ”Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation.  Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years.” (Life Science with Student Activities, v. 3; Bob Jones University Press, 2007)
  • “Some babies die very soon after birth as a result of genetic disorders. It appears that God designed into the genetic mechanism of humans (and most organisms) a genetic screen that eliminates many greatly deformed individuals, preventing major genetic disorders from continuing.” (Biology for Christian Schools, Bob Jones University Press, 1997, p. 162)  Additional statements in the same book include:
    • “‘Whatever the Bible says is so; whatever man says may or may not be so,’ is the only [position] a Christian can take. . . .”
    • “If [scientific] conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.”
    • “Christians must disregard [scientific hypotheses or theories] that contradict the Bible.” ( at xi.)

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Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)

ACSI, describing itself as “a leader in accrediting Protestant pre-K-12 schools worldwide,” says it has almost 23,000 member schools in 100 nations. (described here)  ACSI says that it promotes Christian education, resulting in “..schools that contribute to the public good through effective teaching and learning and that are biblically sound…and educators who embody a biblical worldview, engage in transformational teaching and discipling…”  They go on t to say, in  ACSI Comment, “Not since the Great Depression have Americans faced such a significant challenge in weighing the economic priorities of life. so as you considerthose priorities now, will you choose christian schooling and thus gain the advantage of christian-worldview integration in your students’ education, or will you take a chance—a chance on fighting alone against the nonchristian culture, which is gaining ground in the war of worldviews?” Here is the statement of faith all members sign.

ACSI was unsuccessful in a 2006 suit  (ACSI v. Roman Stearns) seeking to force the University of California to accept high school course credits based on A Beka Book and Bob Jones University Press curricula.  ACSI also publishes its own Christian text books at Purposeful Design Publications which some New Hampshire schools use.

ACSI membership or accreditation appears to be a commitment to a Creationist curriculum, as ACSI discusses here.

Dr. John Storey, Northeast Regional Director for ACSI testified in support of the education tax credit bill before the Senate Education Committee.

ACSI operates tax credit funded scholarship organizations in 3 states

They go on to say that:

1. ACSI schools have the greatest emphasis on student development of moral character and personal virtue.

2. Christian school graduates are significantly more likely to pray and read Scripture both alone and with family.

3. ACSI schools have the highest belief in biblical accuracy in scientific and historical matters.

4. Christian school graduates are more likely to attend religious services and respect the authority of church leadership.

5. ACSI schools most often include these among their top priorities: for students to have a close, personal relationship with God and for students to develop a Christian worldview.

Note: I got most of the quotes and pictures of quotes from these curricula from Rachel Tabachnick here or from her other related posts


3 Comments

  1. geauxteacher says:

    http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-fighting-creeping-creationism/

    Just found this. I missed the show.

    Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT Secondary English, Journalism, Gifted Asst. National Director – Save Our Schools 178 Abita Oaks Loop Abita Springs, Louisiana 70420 985-789-8304 http://www.geauxteacher.net

  2. Pastor LaHaye writes “miss educate” instead of “miseducate” which is properly the ulterior motive of these theistic organizations . A proper response to what I have here would be a lengthy one. it is also claimed here that those who do not subscribe to their religious views lack wisdom;, however, at least I have a firm grasp of grammar.

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