Religion, Morality, and Knowledge

As Americans began to move into new territories after the Revolution, the Congress set up rules for how those territories were to be governed and how they could become states. The Northwest Territory—which consisted of the current states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and part of Wisconsin—was the first region to be settled.

Even before the Constitution was written, the fledgling American Congress under the Articles of Confederation passed what was called the Northwest Ordinance. It was a very significant document not only in how territories could become states, but also in how we understood education. Here’s what the Ordinance stated:

Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

Notice that the role of the federal government was only to “encourage” education, not dictate how it was to be done. Notice also the linkage made in that statement: knowledge is indissolubly connected to religion and morality. Notice further that those three ingredients were absolutely essential if we expected to have good government and happiness.

Yet today we seek to disconnect religion and morality from education. We’re even told we can have value-neutral education. How is such a thing possible? A value of some kind will always be taught. If you say there shall be no religious input into education, aren’t you transmitting a value—that religion has no part to play in one’s education?

In fact, a lot of so-called value-neutral education is really just a mask for another agenda.

Don’t think I’m being out of bounds with this cartoon. It’s happening routinely now. How far we have fallen.