God & Country in 1941: An NEA Coming Out Party


Missing the Mark With Religion, Part 11

When I think of organizations that have worked long and hard to undermine the religious heritage of this great nation of ours – especially in the minds of our children – few can match the collective record of the National Education Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Truth be told, their record is so bad that if the Second Coming were to occur in a public classroom today the former would insist that a cadre of psychologists swarm in on the community to undo the damage to children, teachers and family before the school would be permitted to reopen, while the latter would put a restraining order on the Savior of the World and bring suit against the security guards for letting Him through the doorway.

But it wasn’t always that way, at least not for the National Education Association. In 1941 it published a little gem called The American Citizens Handbook. It was written for “The Committee on New Voter Preparation and Recognition” to prepare children and their parents, immigrants and lifetime residents for the grave yet great responsibility we call citizenship. I feel confident that were this handbook republished today it would be banned from the classroom and shouted down by the NEA’s reviewers as a pack of dangerous lies.

Here’s why. Let me quote from the foreword:

To be a good father, mother, brother, sister, or friend;
To be a dependable, faithful, and skilled worker in home, school, field, factory, or office;
To be an intelligent, honest, useful, and loyal citizen, with faith in God and love of fellowman;
To recognize the brotherhood of man and to live by the Golden Rule –

These are the aspirations that have brought happiness and achievement to the America we all love. These are the aspirations that must help us find our way to new glory and grace in the midst of worldwide change. A great civilization must have roots in the soil of the past and its branches reaching to the stars of the future. Otherwise, it lacks the experience and motive necessary for noble achievement in the present. Has the nation lost its way? Let us return again to the faith of its youth. This faith is found at its best in the lives and writings of great leaders who have quickened and purified the national spirit. (1)

God, the Golden Rule, faith, grace, the traditional family, nobility, moral purity – these are the roots of our glory, and lacking these our motives, achievements and national spirit will become tainted, our hopes of reaching to the stars in the future dashed?

Heaven forbid!

Let’s move to chapter one, paragraph two. Here we are informed that the people of this nation possess “an inspiring … mighty gift such as the people of no other continent enjoy, God-given and eternal.” (2)

The text then breaks into a chorus of Katherine Lee Bates’ “America the Beautiful,” with the prayer that “God shed his grace on thee.” (3)

I should hope so.

Then in an unforgivable spirit of flag-waving jingoism and fairytale-itis the handbook speaks of “Our Heritage of Leadership,” described as a “mighty heritage that has come to us in the memory of great deeds performed by pioneer men and women who have established this mighty nation.” (4)

And then it gets worse.

Under “Charters of American Liberty,” it goes so far as to say that “Beyond the heritage which is found in the lives of the men and women who have made America, stands the Republic itself, the greatest example of constitutional government among free men.” (5)

The crème de la crème isn’t unloaded, however, until the eighth paragraph of the first chapter, where the NEA identifies the foundation principles of this “greatest single document in the entire struggle of mankind for orderly self government.” (6) Under the heading “Religious Ideals the Foundation” we read:

It is difficult to read this history without seeing in it the hand of Providence, for the struggle which was then taking place in America was in a sense the climax of untold centuries of human struggle upward, a struggle against despotism, against the destructive forces within the nature of man himself. The birth of our democracy [the NEA is referring to social democracy in the setting of a constitutional republic] is the result of the teachings of religious leaders going back hundreds of years. Democracy finds its fullest expression in the roots of religion, which has ever emphasized the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man. For democracy to reach its highest fruition, our society must include that larger liberty and justice preached so eloquently by the Hebrew Prophets and by Jesus. (7)

It is upon the Foundation of this Higher Law, the handbook concludes at this point, that our “Constitution …[stands] between us and chaos, between us and a return to the brutalities and confusion of earlier centuries.” (8)

A number of years ago, I read the above quotes to my 14-year-old daughter. Her instant, non-coached response was a sarcastic “Boy, have we come a long way!”

Yes we have.

Making it plain to see, even for our youth (if given a chance to read what was once read), that the censoring of the citing of religious texts and perspectives on American law, government, and history that goes on in the classroom today, misses the mark with religion in public life, not only because it is dishonest to deny what so surely lay at the root of our laws and the foundation of our national character – and surely we wouldn’t want our kids to endorse and accept dishonesty – but also because the results of that denial would be so dire, as the NEA themselves predicted 66 years ago.

Once again, the NEA forecast: chaos, brutality and confusion. Is that dire enough?

Are we not rushing headlong toward its fullfillment? Yet, can we not see that the reinsertion of our historical perspective on the Christian faith and our Judeo-Christian heritage is just what the rising generation needs to halt this reckless charge into chaos, burtality, and confusion, and turn this country and this world of ours around?

I suggest that it is. Once upon a time, so did the NEA.


Read Part 1. Modern Liberalism;   2. Libertarianism: the Oxymoronic Faith; 3. Not So Compassionate, Not So Conservative, Compassionate Conservatism); 4. Marx and the Worship of Man 5. Self-Worship: The God of Democracy 6. Moral License: Friend or Foe of Liberty? 7.  Red Eye On Marriage 8. Men or Cattle? 9. Tough Love  10. Is Grief an Evil?

Steve Farrell is Founder and Editor In Chief of The Moral Liberal,  one of the original pundits at NewsMax.com (1999-2007), and the author of the highly praised inspirational novel Dark Rose


1. Morgan, Joy Elmer, arranged by. The American Citizens Handbook, The National Education Association, Washington D.C., 1941, p. 5.
2. Ibid., p. 14.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid., pgs. 14-15.
5. Ibid., p. 15.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid., p. 16.
8. Ibid., p. 17.