Missing the Mark With Religion, Part 12
A little secret is out. Maybe you’ve heard? The enter stage left ‘let’s kick God and morality out of the classroom’ National Education Association was once a ‘wee’ bit more in God’s camp then they’d ever admit today.
Witness the NEA’s 406 page, 1941, American Citizens Handbook, a text written to prepare children and parents, immigrants and lifetime residents, for responsible and productive citizenship.
From cover to cover, the book was unabashedly God-and Christ-centered. In it the NEA unflinchingly asserted:
The American concept of … government had its roots in religious belief. This ideal of the brotherhood of man roots down into the fundamentals of religion. The teachings of the Hebrew Prophets and of Jesus Christ inculcate the idea of brotherhood. The growth of the idea gave us the concept of democracy in government. It ennobled home life. It emphasized the sacredness of human personality. (1)
Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Hard to believe or not, since publishing my first article on this NEA gem, a number of retired school teachers have come forth to confirm to this writer that this inspiring handbook was in fact used in the public school system as late as the 1950’s, and in some cases much later, perhaps into the 70’s.
And while I am sure the NEA won’t like this, isn’t it time we ‘outed’ this powerful and presently far-left of center teachers union over this? This politically correct denier of our Christian heritage once knew the very truths it refuses to let our kids learn today.
Let’s read on. The NEA wrote regarding the troubles America faced in 1941.
Is it not plain that what the world needs just now is a new devotion to the great religious ideals? In statecraft, in business, in industry, in law, in the church, in science, or in teaching, can anything be more intensely fruitful and practical than a renewed faith in the higher and finer things of life? As Woodrow Wilson points out in “The Road Away From Revolution”:
‘Our civilization cannot survive materially unless it be redeemed spiritually. It can be saved only by becoming permeated with the spirit of Christ and being made free and happy by the practices which spring out of that spirit. Only thus can discontent be driven out and all the shadows lifted from the road ahead.’ (2)
Imagine that! If our civilization is to survive, if discontent is to be driven out, if all the shadows are to be lifted from the road ahead, the NEA said we must be redeemed spiritually and particularly by the spirit of Christ.
Then – hold on to your hats! – by way of a fuller explanation this NEA handbook notes: “The following quotations from the Bible are perhaps best expressive of the religious spirit:” (3)
The Golden Rule
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12
The Lord’s Prayer
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen – Matthew 6:9-13.
The Ten Commandments
1. Thou shalt have no other God’s before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor’s. – Exodus 20: 3-17.
The Great Commandment
Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ – Matthew 22: 37-39
The Greatest Thing in the World
Tho I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And tho I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and tho I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And tho I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and tho I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see thru a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13. (4) [The King James Version reads “Charity” rather than “love” which charity is defined as “the pure love of Christ” … a more complete or perfect love]
Yes, the world would have been and would still be a better place if such a spirit were inculcated in the classroom. Then teachers would inspire and young men and young women would go forth eager and ready to serve God, Family, and Country, instead of the Almighty Self, Self, and Self.
Just don’t let the 21st Century, Missing the Mark With Religion, NEA know about it! They’ll probably hunt down the last remaining copies, burn them and deny they ever existed, even as they follow with a friend of the court brief against the posting of the ten commandments in a trophy shelf in some obscure school district that has not been rooted out yet.
In the meantime, if you have a copy guard it with your life, even as you share it with your family, friends, and your local school district. Those parents who do share it, and those school districts which do take the time to give it a thorough and honest read, will be on their way to finding the mark with religion in public life, for if I may adapt the words of George Washington to our current educational dilemma: ‘honesty about our historical foundations is the best policy.’ (5)
1. Morgan, Joy Elmer, arranged by. The American Citizens Handbook, The National Education Association, Washington D.C., 1941, p. 169.
4. Ibid., pgs. 169-171.
5. See Farewell Address.
Author’s Extended Comments
One current illustration of the NEA’s turnaround is its rationale for rejecting school vouchers, a system that permits parents to ‘shop around’ for superior private alternatives, so that in theory, public schools will be forced to become more competitive or perish. On the NEA’s Internet “issues” page we read of their “Legal Case Against Vouchers”: “About 85 percent of private schools are religious. Vouchers tend to be a means of circumventing prohibitions against subsidizing religious practice and instruction.” That is, vouchers would subsidize the very kind of instruction the NEA once insisted was vital to preventing our nation from falling into “chaos, brutality, and confusion.”
As to its “Social Case Against Vouchers” the NEA asserts: “A pure voucher system [remembering 85 percent of private schools are religious] would only encourage economic, racial, ethnic, and religious stratification in our society.” The implied message: ‘Christianity – [or religion in general] – is a divider. Permitting our kids to choose Judeo-Christian schools would hurt America.’ How nice.
Revealing the NEA’s antagonism for the free enterprise system (that their 1941 work repeatedly praised) the current NEA’s president said of private alternatives in his July 3, 2005 keynote address at their national convention in L.A.: “Privatization doesn’t mean more for less – it means poor quality for a higher price. Privatization is bad for schools and it’s bad for kids.”
Any doubts that the NEA is an ally of the Socialist International?
While there are solid Americanist reasons one may fear state dollars flowing into private schools – such as state strings ultimately attaching themselves to those vouchers (ultimately subverting private and church alternatives) – this is not the NEA’s concern. Rather, the NEA is worried sick about our kids being taught the Judeo-Christian perspective it once defended in the public schools; for times have changed, as has the agenda at the NEA. Long gone is their endorsement of the Constitution, the Judeo-Christian Heritage, and the free enterprise model our Founders bequeathed us – now replaced with the NEA’s endorsement of the twin sisters of Secular Humanism (John Dewey), and Communism (Karl Marx) – both inspiring hostility to faith, morality, traditional families, and historical accuracy.
As to liberty-protecting alternatives to school vouchers, this writer suggests tax write-offs or tax refunds for those who private-school their kids; as well as Congress exercising its constitutional right to limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court away from educational issues; and finally, decentralizing the educational establishment to a more locally controlled, locally funded model, with parents once again the bosses of the schools and school districts which teach their children.