When we think of America in 2013, do we still think of her as a Christian nation? What will the consequences be for us if America does not continue to be a Christian nation? These questions become more serious with each passing year. A third, equally important, question is, “How will we keep that American distinction alive in the next generation?”
Education is the key. It is a fact that the education of our nation’s children will set the agenda for our entire country in the future as today’s children become tomorrow’s leaders in America. As leaders they will bring the lessons they learned in the schoolhouse into our nation’s legislative, judicial, and executive houses and hallways. What lessons are we teaching these future leaders about America’s foundational soul and spirit?
I was troubled at the very beginning of President Barak Obama’s presidency when he addressed this issue at a press conference in Turkey, shortly after his first inauguration in 2009. When asked about a future partnership between America and Turkey, the president said of America:
Although we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.
If President Obama meant by those words that America is not a Christian nation because, in America, we do not force people to become Christians, then he was correct. However, I believe the president was mistaken if he was denying that America’s most basic ideals and values were solidly built on a Judeo-Christian foundation.
Most Western nations are historically and culturally Christian, even though these cultures are becoming less and less so as their history is forgotten—or misrepresented. America in particular is historically, legally, and culturally a Judeo-Christian nation; that is just a fact. Our laws were derived from biblical ideals and values. Biblical Christianity teaches that God made mankind free to accept or reject Him. That basic freedom, on which our “Declaration of Independence” was based, gives America a particularly appealing cultural tradition that welcomes and respects citizens of all faiths and allows those citizens to worship according to their own individual beliefs. Even atheists in America are free not to believe anything at all—but only because of our nation’s Christian-based values. We must remember that if we allow these non-Christian elements of our culture to take over and to obscure and misrepresent America’s basic foundation, that foundation will crumble, and we will all become enslaved—Christian and atheist alike.
America’s Unique Christian Values
It is important to remember that America is set apart from every other nation on earth because its values and ideals were derived from the biblical notion that religion is a matter of conscience between every individual and his God. The God of the Bible does not force conversions; He wants people to come to faith in Jesus Christ by their own free will. That is an important distinction from countries based on other faiths or on no faith—countries that do not allow religious conversion or that prosecute anyone who would even proselytize and seek to change the religious beliefs of others. In some countries proselytizing is outlawed and conversion is punishable by ostracism or even death. We must be careful that we do not allow these false ideals and values to creep into our own culture.
We must not be ashamed to continue acknowledging the superiority of the tradition and law that was provided to us by the Judeo-Christian God. Nor should we be ashamed to attempt to spread this religion-based culture to other individuals and nations through peaceful persuasion.
A Warning for Today
America’s “Declaration of Independence” reached into the Bible for the proposition that we are all created equal by the Creator God of the Bible and that we are governed by the laws of nature and of nature’s God, both of which are also based on biblical ideals and values; our nation’s independence was based on an acknowledgement of our ultimate dependence on the biblical God. America’s first settlers saw themselves as a New Israel being formed by God in the wilderness of Virginia and New England, of Pennsylvania and North Carolina, of the Westward trek. Since America’s laws and culture are based historically and purposefully on the Bible, we should, especially in our own day, heed the warning in Deuteronomy 8:13-20 (KJV), when Moses told the people of Israel:
And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, . . . Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end.
And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.
These are chilling words of warning for a nation that saw itself at its inception as a New Israel, a nation blessed by and dedicated to the God of the Bible.
The True Presidential Tradition
Other American presidents have regularly acknowledged that America is, in fact, a Christian nation. The United States Supreme Court also acknowledged that basic Truth in several decisions prior to the 1960s.
Our nation’s first president, George Washington, said on July 9, 1776, “The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary, but especially so in times of public distress and danger.” The Heaven to which Washington referred is an acknowledgement of the God of the Christian Bible.
President Abraham Lincoln, at a time of great peril in America in 1863, issued a proclamation calling for “humility, fasting, and prayer” to the God of the Bible.
President Dwight Eisenhower added the phrase “under God” to the “Pledge of Allegiance” in 1954 to emphasize America’s difference from those nations dedicated to godless communism. President Eisenhower had a specific God in mind—it was the God of the Bible, with Whom this nation is intertwined both by its laws and by its cultural traditions.
America’s second president, John Adams, in a June 21, 1776, letter, said something that Americans today forget, to our peril. He wrote:
[I]t is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. . . . The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.
Liberty in America has lasted for nearly 250 years due to our national recognition of the God of the Bible as our one true foundation. One of the important things the National Center for Life and Liberty seeks to do is to keep that important principle alive for today’s national leaders and for all our nation’s children. America is indeed a Christian nation and must continue to be a Christian nation, legally and culturally, if we are to continue to be a free nation dedicated to individual liberty for all.
I believe America is at an important crossroads in 2013. Our president, along with many of our other government officials, including our judges, has obviously not changed his minds about America’s foundation in the last five years. Vestiges of our Christian heritage continue to regularly be erased. Nevertheless, how we see America today and how we train our children to see America tomorrow, whether we continue to acknowledge that we are a Christian nation or whether we will now abandon the God of the Bible as our foundation, will affect the lives of future generations for good or for ill. We must not falter.
What Role Does Home Schooling Play in America’s Future?
We must acknowledge that while there are many good Christian teachers and many students who receive a good education in our nation’s public schools, the fact is that our nation’s public education system is underperforming. It is certainly no longer teaching children about our nation’s biblical and Judeo-Christian heritage. While many good teachers remain, statistics show that too many American public school children are being taught by teachers who do not have a heart for teaching; many of them no longer have a heart for America’s distinctive foundation, either.
In many situations bureaucratic demands on teachers make it nearly impossible for them to actually teach well. Worries about “separation of church and state” lawsuits prevent many from teaching the real history of America or from inculcating students with the important Christian values and ideals that have preserved our nation for nearly 250 years. Public school test scores continue to decline, even as our educational expectations also continue to decline. Parents are justifiably concerned for their children.
Beyond these academic concerns of a broken education system are the moral and spiritual concerns that many, especially Christian, parents share. Many of these parents have become so alarmed by the ever-declining moral climate in their local public schools that they feel they have no choice but to assume their God-given right and responsibility to educate their children in a manner consistent with their faith.
What Does the Future Hold?
Home school blogs and news sources are issuing warnings to keep an eye on this important freedom. Some home school sources are very concerned that under America’s current leadership, home schooling as we know it could be in for a change. We hear declarations that America’s children belong to the “community” and no longer only to their parents. We see a German home school family fear being sent back to a nation that does not permit home schooling because our current administration does not see that issue as a denial of freedom deserving of political asylum in America.
Clearly, the fundamental right of parents to direct and to control the upbringing of their children has been entrenched in America since the days of the Pilgrims and it has been officially recognized in American constitutional law for more than 100 years. Today, however, instead of looking to themselves, to their families, or to their churches for help, Americans are increasingly turning to government to care for them, cradle to grave. Many in the federal government seem to act as if they alone know what is best for our children, not families. If this trend continues in education, it could provide a significant challenge for home schooling families.
A well-worn political adage warns us to always “follow the money.” Concern over massive government funding and control of public schools and the potential corresponding impact on home schoolers is not unfounded. It is another well-worn adage that “whatever the government pays for, it retains the right to control.” If government continues to recognize that it is “under God,” there is no problem. However, when government begins to function as a god unto itself, it is time to worry.
Who Should Decide?
Someone must decide what sort of education is best for individual children. The government could decide. It often seems that it would certainly like to decide. The children themselves could decide. Children are deciding far too much for themselves today as our family structure crumbles. Or the parents could decide. That is God’s idea. However, American law is rapidly shifting away from the right of the parental authority to decide and is moving toward children having more power and input into their own education, and the federal government, being the “Big Dog,” is controlling all educational policy.
Rather than accepting the decisions of Mom and Dad, courts may well begin to say that a child of ten, eleven, or twelve now has the legal right to choose for himself, even where his education is concerned. While that has not yet happened in America, clearly the law is trending in that direction as courts are allowing children at ever younger ages to make important decisions for themselves—including their own involvement in sexual activity or in choosing a sexual preference. Is it not interesting that the government now wants children just beginning puberty to buy abortifacients freely at the drug store but at the same time treats twenty-six-year-olds as children still able to remain on their parent’s health insurance plan?
Parents are increasingly being seen as impediments to their child’s freedom, sexual or otherwise. The government is often far too eager to step in to “protect” children from their parents. Mandated, government-run public education is certainly one of the best ways to ensure that children will break free from the “outdated” religion, ethics, and morality of their parents and embrace the new values of a government that no longer sees itself as a Christian nation. Home schooling families, however, are still able to teach their children the real American history, ideals, and values of independence from a totalitarian government and a corresponding dependence upon God. Future citizens may later thank you when these well-educated and morally upright adults are called upon to lead a nation that has otherwise lost its way.
What Are the Basics?
Political movements opposing potential challenges to home schooling may become more urgent in the near future, but right now parents must focus on several basic issues. Home school families need to make sure that home schooling itself remains a strong and difficult movement to stop. Follow these basic steps first:
- Know the law in your state.
- Follow the law.
- Do your work as home schoolers excellently.
- Keep good records.
These will be the keys to best protecting home schooling in the future, whatever the challenges. It is those parents who are doing an outstanding job and who are able to demonstrate that their children are being well educated who will best protect the continuing freedom for everyone to choose the best educational option for their child, including a home education.
Taking a Stand
Whatever the specific issue, vigilance is always the price of freedom. The battle cry of the National Center for Life and Liberty is, “If it’s wrong, fight it; if it’s right, fight for it.” Yet, it is also important how we fight. We recommend a Christian ask three basic questions whenever he or she determines to take a stand:
- Am I taking the right stand? (The right stand always lines up with the Word of God.)
- Am I standing in the right way? (The right stand must be done in a way that pleases God.)
- Am I standing with a right spirit? (The right stand must always be put forward with a Christ-like spirit that God can bless.)
The National Center for Life and Liberty is honored to serve all parents, whatever educational choice they make for their children; NCLL particularly defends the choice of families to home school through its Center for Homeschool Liberty.
Remember! You only have one opportunity to educate your children and then you will live with the benefits or the consequences of your decisions. As well, our nation has only this one current generation to re-instill the foundational ideals and values upon which America was built, or our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage may forever be lost. Moms and dads, I challenge you to make choices regarding your children’s education wisely.
Attorney David C. Gibbs III, founder
National Center for Life and Liberty