Earlier this week, when he was in Ireland for the first leg of his European trip, President Obama made a speech that didn’t garner a lot of attention at the time, but now part of that speech has raised some very real concerns among Christians, not only in Ireland but in the U.S. Essentially, the president criticized religious education as divisive and a contributor to violence. That’s startling to those of us who are deeply committed to providing a Biblical foundation to all learning. Here were his exact words:
Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity—symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others—these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it. If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs—if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.
Notice how the critique of religious schools is couched in the very real desire for peace and harmony, something everyone wants, at least on the surface. But you have to look deeper. Obama’s worldview doesn’t have room for differences; all are to be incorporated into the whole, under the wise guiding hand of the federal government. Any deviation from that would be “division.”
His wording assumes that somehow segregation and lack of opportunity in society can be traced back to religious differences. He believes that these differences lead to fear and resentment. Certainly, in history, that has sometimes been the case, but with one mere paragraph, he has tarnished all religious education. What he either fails to realize, or seeks to ignore, is that Christian education, whether via homeschooling or private schools, is a major source of strength for the country. There is no war in America between Protestant and Catholic; the only battle I see waging is between Christian faith and encroaching statism. The president’s own signature piece of legislation, which we call Obamacare, began the war by trying to force religious schools to provide contraception and abortifacient drugs in direct violation of their bedrock beliefs.
Who’s causing the division? It’s emanating from Mr. Obama himself.
Further, any objective study of the results of private education shows that students are learning more through that medium than through the government-controlled system of schools. I don’t accept the argument that government schooling is the way to go. I’ve always been disturbed by how easily our citizens, even those whose Christian beliefs should alert them, become like sheep when herded into that system. Civil government is not the Biblically ordained agency for the education of children. Parents are to take that responsibility and then decide if and how they want some of that education delegated to others. All too often, we have come dangerously close to the idea that children belong to the government.
So I oppose government-controlled education on principle. Others look mostly at the bad results. While I would like for more people to be informed on the principle, I am happy when anything attracts their attention to the woeful state of education as it exists today. On the practical level, we are failing:
The bad results should make us want to reexamine our most basic concepts of how education should be carried out. Failure should lead more parents to consider the alternatives.
No, President Obama, the homeschoolers and private Christian schools in our nation are not the problem; they are the beginning of the solution.