In a bizarre, the-sky-is-falling article in the National Review, Cameron Hilditch blames the growing secularization of young Americans on… education.
This is apparently a bad thing.
He uses that claim to argue that it’s time for “religious parents to take their children back from the state” by removing their kids from public schools.
First, here’s how he laments the lack of religion:
… But the data seem to show that the main driver of secularization in the United States has been the acceleration of government spending on education and government control over the curricular content taught in schools.
… Children learn more at school than reading, writing, and arithmetic. They imbibe a whole set of implied assumptions about what’s important in life. By excluding religious instruction from public schools, the government-run education system tacitly teaches students that religious commitments are not a first-order priority in life. Faith in God becomes a sort of optional weekend hobby akin to playing tennis or video games. Christ and Moses are treated by teachers and administrators like weapons or drugs — confiscated upon discovery.
In short, Christianity isn’t shoved down kids’ throats at public schools, therefore, they’re not constantly thinking about it, therefore, America is collapsing.
He ignores that no one is actually confiscating Christ or Moses — kids can bring bibles to school if they want, or wear cross necklaces, or start a Christian after-school club, or even try to convince their friends to convert. There’s a difference between kids advocating their beliefs and teachers/administration pushing certain religious beliefs upon them.
He also ignores that, even if Christianity isn’t explicitly taught in schools — even though it may well be included in a world history or comparative religion course — it’s not like schools are teaching atheism either.
Public schools are not promoting the idea that God doesn’t exist. I know that’s a constant claim from conservatives, but like so much of what they say, it’s a lie. Not telling kids what to believe about God is not the same as saying God isn’t real.
He also ignores that most public school teachers and leaders are Christian themselves.
He also ignores whatever role those kids’ parents have in keeping them faithful, if it’s so important to them. If it’s as easy to secularize these children as Hilditch makes it seem, then maybe their faith wasn’t that strong to begin with.
He also ignores that many schools have kids saying the religious Pledge of Allegiance or have “In God We Trust” signs in the building.
He also ignores how prominent conservative Christians have made their religion toxic by aligning it with bigotry, sexism, thoughtlessness, hypocrisy, and cruelty. Students may well have friends directly and negatively affected by what the Trump administration with their Christian allies have done; who wants to be a part of that club?
He also ignores how religious schools don’t necessarily keep kids within the fold later in life. (How many atheists attended Catholic schools?)
He also ignores that kids in public schools tend to make friends with kids who don’t share their religious beliefs. They’re no longer in a bubble. That’s also generally true when they go to college or move to a large city. When you’re exposed to more ideas in general — and realize that there are good people out there who don’t share your particular faith — you’re going to explore those other views. You’re going to realize your church lied to you.
The time has come for religious parents to take their children back from the state. It simply will not do anymore for faithful Americans to drop their sons and daughters off at the curbside every morning for the government to collect as if they were taking out the trash… the only real road to religious revival is the one that begins with each parent’s first step out of the public school’s doors.
He waited until the end to say the quiet part out loud.
Hilditch isn’t interested in kids learning about religion, which they do at most schools. He wants them indoctrinated into his religion. And that means making sure children of Christian parents remain in a bubble. The less they learn, the easier they are to control.
In a way, he gives public schools too much credit for turning students away from God. They’re not the reason we’re seeing that trend. Honestly, if he wanted to blame people for the secularization of the country, he should blame church leaders and Republican officials for making religion so toxic that many young people want nothing to do with it.
If education is your enemy, maybe you should rethink your beliefs.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to everyone for the link)