Show Notes - Episode 51
Why do Christian parents choose private Christian schools they have to pay for as opposed to sending their kids to public school...
They're afraid of “cross contamination” - kids being taught things that contradict their beliefs
The atmosphere of public school is sinful
Who knows what my kids teachers believe?
My kids will be steered away from Christian morals
Public schools are dangerous (“blood in the halls...”)
My kid might start dating a non-christian
Public schools have drug problems
Public schools promote teen sex (handing out condoms, etc.)
Christian schools use divisive tactics to motivate parents - https://www.mcsflames.org/upload/documents/Parent/TEN_REASONS_Why_You_Should_Send_Your_Child_To_A_Christian_School.pdf
Creationism and the shunning of science
As Dana Hunter wrote in Scientific American, millions of children are being taught in Christian private schools and through religious homeschooling that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that Noah’s flood is “the event that formed most of the geologic record.” Many of these schools, as well as parents who homeschool their children for religious reasons, use non-accredited science books, such as Science of the Physical Creation in Christian Perspective, that inject religious ideology into “lessons” about science. Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/religious-schools-are-fai_b_9431334
I clicked through to the Dana Hunter piece and found this quote that I think encapsulates the problem well:
“Imagine millions of kids emerging from their primary education believing that if science gives results different from a peculiar interpretation of the Bible, then they must either discard those results or twist and torture them to fit. Imagine those kids trying to get into college with that "education," trying to have careers in a scientific field they may love, but which cannot support their interpretation. Imagine kids being taught that global warming isn't a problem because God promised he'd never destroy the earth again, then going on to become policy makers in a warming world. This is happening.” Source: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/rosetta-stones/a-travesty-of-an-education/
Evolution is rejected outright (It's just a theory!)
So what is a scientific theory?
“"Most people use the word 'theory' to mean an idea or hunch that someone has, but in science the word 'theory' refers to the way that we interpret facts." source: https://www.livescience.com/21491-what-is-a-scientific-theory-definition-of-theory.html
Funny, our christian college had music theory classes but no one ever argued about the existence of Middle C, its tonal qualities or how it sounds when played with or alongside other notes. No one at Valley Farce, that I know of, ever looked at a treble clef and played the notes as if they were bass notes citing that treble and bass are just theories so you can't trust the sheet music. In this context, the word theory means the same thing as in the above quote: a collection of details about things we already know to be true based on available evidence. You can also read the word “theory” in this context as “foundation.” Middle C is a foundational concept in music for understanding what makes a melody, while things like DNA are foundational to understanding what makes an organism.
Musical notes vs. DNA:
Both form the foundation for what they're used to create
Both contain specific information that determines the structure of something
The data contained in each are designed to construct a specific thing in a specific way
Both are observable and interpretable
Any Christian who can read sheet music will look at middle C and see it for what it is but that same Christian could then look at a DNA strand and say, “Pffft... that's just a theory. We're created in the image and likeness of God so why does DNA matter? It isn't really that important.” Well, it's important to not be looking at the sheet music for Fuer Elise if you're trying to play Moonlight Sonata because THE NOTES MATTER! Just like the structure of an organism's DNA matters. Now try using that logic on THEM.
Geology is taught from the standpoint of The Flood and not the scientifically proven timeline of progressive changes to the topography of the earth that literally, observably, and in very traceable terms covers billions of years.
Aron Ra – How Geology Disproves the Flood
“The geologic column doesn't only fail to support the Genesis myth, but disproves it with every lithified evaporite, desert dune, raindrop impression, and mud crack.” Source: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/rosetta-stones/a-travesty-of-an-education/
And don't get me started on the whole water canopy thing...
The exclusion of history courses or religious slants on history that often have no basis in fact are common in Christian schools. Now, to be fair, public school history curricula are usually pretty pathetic, too, not to mention hopelessly racist. I mean, Christopher Columbus was apparently a really great guy and racism and slavery were things that happened a long time ago, right? And the Pilgrims and the native Americans (still called Indians when I was in school) got along great didn't they? Yeah, no...
Lies My Teacher Told Me: https://www.amazon.com/Lies-My-Teacher-Told-Everything/dp/0743296281
But Christian schools take it a step further by completely removing any details about history that they don't like from the curriculum or simply not delving into history at all. Well how do they get away with that? There are still regulations they have to follow right? Well, yes. And many get around this by counting Bible classes as history. It amazes me how even in 2021 there are people out there who look at the Bible as an historical document with factual historical information built in. Then again, most people outside Christendom also accept that Jesus was a real person with absolutely no proof.
So they get away with it. They identify Biblical studies as history classes and everyone in the education system just plays along.
Issues when transitioning to public school
Many Christian schools take on such a “family” structure to how they do things, they don't always follow state-mandated curricula to the letter. What often happens then is that when kids try to transition from a Christian school to a public school, they lack some of the basic knowledge necessary for the grade they're entering and are forced to repeat a grade before being able to continue.
This almost happened to me coming out of Catholic School into public school for the same reason. All of us had been in school together since kindergarten and it was just assumed that we were going to stay... so they played fast and loose with the curriculum and I entered sixth grade in public school not at all caught up in several subjects, math being the worst. I have no clue why I wasn't held back. My grades that year were awful.
Sixth grade was a NIGHTMARE year for me...
Division Among the Ranks
Even some Christian parents don't like how Christian schools do things. Sojourners was another magazine I liked back in the day, mostly because they published content like this. I don't agree with everything here, but this person has at least some measurable capacity to think for himself.
Evan Dolive – 3 Reasons I Won't Send My Daughter to Christian School
Two encouraging quotes:
“For example, I was looking on a school website about their beliefs and was shocked to see that there was a section on marriage. And not just any marriage, but heterosexual, biologically male and female, together forever marriage. Why in the world is the school worried about teaching second graders about marriage? Answer: It is their way of prompting their view of marriage, and they want to assure all of those who enroll their children that heteronormativity is assumed.”
Think about that: this school devised a curriculum whose real purpose was to reassure parents that they are all about heterosexual marriage. It's not enough to just say it. No, let's make second graders take a class on it so the parents know we're serious about this.
“Some schools reject science — namely, the theory of evolution. Evolutionary science is seen in some Christian circles as the arm of the devil meant to pull us further and further away from the truth. These schools use the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2 as their guide when navigating the waters of science and creation. There is one tiny problem: The Bible is not a science book, or history book, or geography book; rather it is a book of faith...”
There is also the question of whether or not the kids are getting the RIGHT indoctrination, which is the missing point from the article here. If it involves religion at all, there is no valid argument to be made about it, but since I brought it up... the argument the author makes is that doctrine is taught from rigid perspectives and it becomes more a matter of “if you go to school here you need to believe this...” than it does to be sensitive to the different beliefs that exist within Christendom. This WOULD ruffle the feathers of a lot of evangelical parents.
Evangelicals are very territorial when it comes to raising their kids. Most don't like the idea of them getting their religion anywhere but home and at church. So that begs the obvious question: why put them in Christian schools, then? For many it's a lesser of two evils scenario. They may learn something different at their baptist school about holy spirit baptism than they will in their pentecostal church on Sunday, but at least they aren't going to be taught evolution!
Kids are often shamed for holding beliefs that go counter to the official opinion of the institution. Many Christian schools also carefully screen potential faculty and staff to weed out the ones who differ with them on what they consider to be “key points” like baptism, the gifts of the spirit and the nature of salvation, but also on subjects like science, sexuality, and abortion. And the more adamant you are about your beliefs the more likely you are to police the shit out of the kids in your class over them and shame them when they say things or ask questions that out them for believing things the school doesn't like or not believing things the school says are true.
Homophobia and shaming of all alternative lifestyles and gender identifications
“A private school in Owasso, Oklahoma is under scrutiny after expelling an 8-year-old girl for reportedly telling a female classmate that she had a crush on her.”
This school network (yes there's more than one) has a “lifestyle statement” that tells you everything you would ever need to know about them. I'm a little surprised, but also impressed, at how many Christian parents defended the child against idiotic statements like “expelling them is what Jesus would do.” Really? Because when I read my Bible I see a Jesus who isn't at all as uptight as that, at least not in this context.
“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mk 2:15-17, NIV
Now, of course there's that moralistic statement wherein Jesus acknowledges that these people are sinners, but not only did he not refuse to recline at the table with them, he seemed to be having a good time.
But even in that context, let's also remember that Jesus didn't think enough of homosexuality to ever say one single, solitary word about it, positive or negative so who knows if he would ever have lumped them in under the blanket of “sinners.” In short, there's no way that anyone can say with any degree of certainty that expelling a student for being gay is what Jesus would do, because even if Jesus viewed homosexuality as sin, he would have reclined at the table with them as well. He wouldn't have left, he wouldn't have judged, and he wouldn't have tried to kick them out of the gathering.
Then there's this story of a clearly racist headmaster who already had a gay student in his crosshairs before he took the headmaster position...
This happened at a school called Covenant Christian Academy in Texas
Within a few days of [headmaster Tony] Jeffrey’s arrival at CCA, he met with school board members, won their approval to dismiss Bryant, and phoned Bryant’s mother to notify her that her son was expelled. It was four days before the start of his senior year.
“His exact words were that Devin had chosen an evil path that was contrary to the Bible and therefore was evil and he was only doing what Jesus would do,” Consolata Bryant told the Dallas Observer. “He offered us parent counseling. Not Devin, though.”
Ms. Bryant asked the headmaster, “Are you a Christian?” She then told him, “Jesus would not do what you are doing.” According to the mom, Jeffrey replied, “I’m doing what Jesus would want me to do.”
That's right, hide your racist ass behind the cross. It's pretty standard behavior.
And if you're sitting there thinking, “It's his own fault, why didn't he just lay low until he graduated?” All I can say to that is: why should he have? And why should he not be allowed to graduate with his friends just because a small group of bronze-age thinkers found his orientation “icky?”
I mean, I could probably spend an entire episode on just this one thing related to christian schools, but I think the point has been made very clear. These two cases are far from unique. I'll refer again to the movie “Saved” that takes place at a Christian high school and revolves around the girlfriend of a young man who figures out that he's gay. The way he is treated by the school is not an exaggeration, nor is the “remedy” of deprogramming that he is forced to go through. Spoiler alert: it doesn't work and the final scene of this movie makes that point very, very clear.
Corporal punishment is a thing in Christian schools, too. No, I'm not kidding. You see it in the movie “Saved” too and it is something that parents often need to sign off on if they want to send their kids to certain christian schools.
The following are actual excepts from several Christian school handbooks:
Faith Christian School, Anniston, AL
“Faith Christian School has the biblical and legal right to provide corporal punishment for all students.
However, we feel that this form of punishment should be used sparingly as a last resort to denying
students their right to an education. While all teachers are authorized to administer corporal
punishment, teachers above the second grade are encouraged to refer a student to the office for a
paddling by an administrator. Teachers are also strongly encouraged to communicate with parents prior
to utilizing corporal punishment.” source: http://www.faithchristian.info/uploadedFiles/File/Faith_Christian_School_Code_of_Conduct.pdf
Calvary Christian School, Kennewick, WA
The school’s disciplinary policy includes corporal punishment and will be administered under the school’s corporal punishment policy.
CCS is honored that you have asked our staff to assist you in training your child for Christian leadership. Our total program is designed to develop the spiritual and academic qualities that characterize your child. We appreciate your confidence in our program. To carry out your wishes for total character development, we believe it is necessary to follow Scriptural admonition to correct a child when their behavior is in violation of proper or reasonable rules and procedures. When warranted, corporal correction will be exercised under the following guidelines:
1. The offense will be clearly discussed with your child.
2. Approval of the parent will be obtained before corporal correction is administered.
3. A staff member will discuss Scriptural applications and will pray with your child.
4. A reasonable number of firm strokes, not to exceed 3, will be administered by the acting
administrator in the privacy of the Principal’s office, using a simple flat paddle.
5. A staff witness will be present.
6. Your child will not be physically restrained. (If the child refuses to submit to the paddling, you will
be required to come and take your child home for the day. A conference with the principal and
child’s teacher will be required for re-admittance to the school.)
7. After administration of the strokes, the staff member will pray with your child, assuring their love
for the child.
8. A written record will be made of the date, offense, number of strokes, and name of correcting staff
member and witness. A copy will be sent to you. Source: https://www.ccstricities.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/CCS_Student_Parent_Packet.pdf
The Christian HS I was thinking of attending also had a corporal punishment policy but I did some digging and it looks like they've woken up and smelled the 21st century as I don't see paddling as part of the disciplinary code anymore.
And it's not just in America...
“Christian independent schools yesterday asked the high court in London for the right to smack their pupils on the biblical grounds that "the rod of correction imparts wisdom". The group of headteachers, teachers and parents believes that banning corporal punishment breaches parents' rights to practice their religion freely under the Human Rights Act. Corporal punishment in independent schools was banned in 1999, 12 years after it was outlawed in state schools.
But John Friel, acting for the claimants, told Mr Justice Patrick Elias that the group "believe as part of their religious worship and part of their religious belief, that corporal punishment is part of their Christian doctrine". He referred the judge to papers containing quotations from the Old Testament on the value of caning children. The Book of Proverbs 23:13 reads: "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to itself disgraces its mother." He also cited 23:14: "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death." Source: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/nov/03/schools.religion
These people took their need to hit children to the High Court of London!
19 states still allow corporal punishment at least in private schools. Children of color also tend to be hit more than Caucasian children.
“Several studies have shown both the practice of and belief in corporal punishment to be much higher among fundamentalist Protestants... Many fundamentalists believe that hitting children is sanctioned or mandated by the Bible. They cite [multiple] verses in [the book of] Proverbs as authority for their belief: 3:11-12, 13:24, 19:18, 20:30, 22:15, and 23:13-14.” Most religions, however, do not condone or encourage it. Source: https://www.privateschoolreview.com/blog/corporal-punishment-2019-update#:~:text=As%20of%202019%2C%20Alabama%2C%20Arkansas,have%20not%20banned%20corporal%20punishment.
Sadly, even with state laws prohibiting these things in public schools (and it is alarming just how recently these laws have been enacted in some states – in Britain it was 1987), private schools are still the wild wild west in most instances and they can do what they want, often without parental consent, but that is changing too. Most of the time, the parents either give consent as part of the enrollment process or they give it case by case. It's a huge CYA move on the part of the schools that leave children and parents at odds and removes many of the senses of safety and love that children should be experiencing at home. “I have come to turn a man against his father and mother...” Mk 10:35
Christian schools make it impossible for many who grow up in this environment to ever be in a place where truth about anything is truly clear in their heads. Global warming isn't a problem because God promised to never destroy the world again. Science, unfortunately, never made any such promise. Evolution is wrong because it's “just a theory.” OK, so what's a scientific theory? Because the words theory and myth are not synonymous. We can't tell the truth about a lot of history because it outs us as violent, racist, and in some cases just generally batshit crazy. Well, maybe that ought to tell you something...
So what's left to say about any of this? Christian schools do damage. Real, measurable lifelong damage. They do damage to people's intellects, they do damage to their self-esteem and self-image, they destroy people's abilities to think logically, rationally, or in any way that even motivated them to discover the truth about anything. And they do all of it hiding behind the very errant premise that this is what Christ would have them do.
It's one thing when you're part of a church with a pastor that spews all this bile from the pulpit. For the average evangelical, that's one chance a week that anyone has to slide in this stinkin' thinkin'. Now imagine that you are a school-age child or teen and this is six to eight hours of every weekday AND you're getting your head pumped full of this shit in Sunday school, children's church, and/or the main service at your church every single week. And many students don't even get a respite over the Summer. Christian camps are out there to see to that.
It doesn't surprise me in the least how closed-off most evangelicals are to the truth about anything when they grow up in an environment so cloistered that they never see any other point of view and never have the chance to develop a sense of self. And the worst part of all this is that it will continue until society puts a stop to it. As of right now, that just flat out isn't happening and I'm not sure if it would even be constitutional to try.
Our system of law and government is far from perfect and organizations like Christian schools exploit the chinks in the armor well. They do it with enough efficiency to call Biblical studies history classes, to call Creationism science, and reserve the right to hit a kid just so long as the child is told he or she is loved when they're done. It's just another way of framing hate as love in the eye of the believer, much like expelling someone for saying she has a crush on another girl. Jesus would kick them out? Whatever happened to “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest...(Mt. 11:28)”? Whatever happened to “suffer the children to come unto me...(Mt. 19:14)”? I see nothing there about shunning children over anything and I can think of few people groups out there whose lives are more weary and heavy laden under the cover of evangelical faith as the LGBTQ community.
As with almost everything else we talk about on this show, the only real defenses we have are to run interference on all the lies and present sound, truth-based arguments and proofs to counter them. We also have a responsibility be active in government and in our states' and country's electoral processes so laws we don't like or have worn out their welcome in society get replaced by those that encourage free thought and, more importantly, protect the most vulnerable among us. Our children are part of that group – a big part of it.
We may not be able to infiltrate christian schools and tell them to teach real science. We may not be able to stop the homophobic agenda that exists within their walls, and we may not be able to physically put our hands between the paddle and the student, but we can continue using our voices. We can keep making the people who do these things to children uncomfortable by exposing the things they do and bringing them under levels of scrutiny that they cannot dismiss or ignore.
And if we persist, it may just help children in the future escape some of the insanity they're dealt in christian school and give them a chance to break free from the day-in-day out indoctrination that holds them captive. It's time to get loud to the point where they can't ignore us because children are these people's most valued assets. They need children to keep advancing their ranks.
Even their own book says in Proverbs 24 to rescue those being led to their death, and that is what is happening here. Christian education leads to the death of reason, the death of knowledge, and worst of all, that death of self that so many of these small-minded people aspire to. It's high time those of us who know better about all of this start stepping up and making it clear that what happens within the walls of most Christian schools is flat out wrong, because that's how we're going to rescue children from the fate of lifelong belief and give them a better chance of getting and staying unbound.