“The Christian religion is … of the first things in which all children under a free government ought to be instructed. … (It) must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.” (Noah Webster, “The Schoolmaster of America”)
Can you imagine any of our political, educational, or even church leaders at the national level saying today what Noah Webster said above about the importance of teaching the Christian religion in our public schools? Can you imagine the hysterical screams coming from the ACLU, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the National Education Association about this looming threat to the “high wall of separation between church and state”!
But just to be sure we aren’t misrepresenting our history or the beliefs of our Founding Fathers, let’s find out what education was really like over most of our past 400 years. For example, what was the major goal for nearly all of the earliest American schools – from primary grades up through and including colleges and universities?
How did our early laws, such as the “Old Deluder Satan Act” and the Northwest Ordinance, handle the question of mixing religion with education? What textbooks were most often used, such as the New England Primer, and how did the Bible figure into the school program? Also, what did other early leaders say about the role of the Bible in school, and what evidence is there for the influence of the Bible on the Founding Fathers?
Bringing it home, we must again ask: “Are we better or worse off since the Bible was removed from our public schools 50 years ago? Is it time to bring it back? If so, how can we help in that effort as one important step toward returning us to the Biblical values and enduring principles of our Founding Fathers on which America was founded and has prospered for over 400 years?”
For answers to these and other questions, we are again featuring David Barton from Wallbuilders as he talks about “Four Centuries of American Education” -- and why it matters.
David Barton (left) is an Honoree of the Virginia Christian Alliance and is the Founder and President of WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious and constitutional heritage. Dean Welty (right) serves on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Christian Alliance and is Director of the Valley Family Forum, a network of families in the Shenandoah Valley that helps build Faith, Family, and Freedom in the culture and in the public square. He also hosts a weekly television program entitled "Valley Faith in Action".