Christian Education Awareness Network (CEANet)

Presents a Book:

The Harsh Truth About Public Schools

by Bruce N. Shortt

ISBN 1-891375-23-7

Chalcedon Foundation
Vallecito, California

Chapter One (part 1 of 2)

Why Are You Educating Your 

Children at a Pagan Seminary?

"For as a man thinks, so he is&ldots;." Proverbs 23:7

"[P]ublic education is the parochial education for scientific humanism."
-- Joe R. Burnett, an editor of The Humanist[1]

Youíre a Christian; you love your children; you know that the Bible instructs you to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Yet, you send them for their education to an institution from which all vestiges of Christianity were driven out long ago -- an institution that is also awash in secular humanist and neo-pagan theologies. That institution, of course, is a government school.[2] Do you really believe that government schools are somehow religiously neutral? Can we honestly think that committing our children from their earliest years to the care and nurture of schools dominated by secular humanism and New Age paganism doesnít harm them spiritually? Do you believe that we are not commanded to give our children an explicitly Christian education? After reading this chapter you will at least know what government schools are doing to our children spiritually.

The Little Red Schoolhouse Is Not What It Used to Be

In a time now culturally far distant, Christmas and Easter holidays were a source of anticipation among schoolchildren and were celebrated with programs and pageants in government schools. In fact, for those old enough to remember, Good Friday also received some official recognition from the government schools, even if it was only the small gesture of ending school early in honor of Good Friday so that children could attend a church service or a showing of  "The Greatest Story Ever Told" at the local cinema. Bibles then were not considered contraband, and in most schools organized prayer was included as a normal part of the school day. In sum, while government schools were not Christian schools, the government schools at least seemed tolerant of Christianity.

Today, of course, everything has changed. Prayer long ago was driven from government schools through a series of federal court decisions too well known to bother naming here. But eliminating prayer from government schools was just the beginning. Now Christmas carols are treated as if they are "hate speech." Christmas pageants are prohibited. "Christmas vacation" must now be referred to as "Winter break," and "Easter vacation" as "Spring break."[3] Gideons can no longer give away Bibles in government schools. School boards have refused to allow posters bearing the national motto "In God We Trust" for fear of giving offense. Almost incredibly, the ACLU even demanded that a California elementary school take down a sign saying "God Bless America" that the school had put up in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.[4] Examples of this sort abound, and they illustrate how much government schools have changed since todayís parents and grandparents attended them.

He Who Is Not With Me Is Against Me

As troubling as these issues are, they are the least of the problems with the "education" inflicted on Christian children by government schools. In fact, even if the government schools returned today to the accommodation of a few Christian symbols and rituals, they would still be an unfit place for Christian children. Why? Because the government schools by legal necessity are committed to a non-Christian worldview.

Virtually every Christian knows that beginning in the 1940s, and especially in the 1960s and 1970s, the Supreme Court created a new jurisprudence of the First Amendment in which the Court sought to create what it termed a "wall of separation" between church and state. The objective of the Courtís decisions was to eliminate from government schools the core of the Christian culture that characterized American society since its earliest colonial days. The intent was to transform government schools into what the Court considered religiously neutral, secular institutions.

As a result of federal court rulings over the last six decades on the meaning of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, school districts and administrators have struggled with figuring out what they could lawfully say and do regarding religion. In response, professional
organizations and school systems have developed guidelines for teaching about religion.

One of these efforts was a report produced by the Americans United Research Foundation (1988) entitled "Religion in the Public School Curriculum: Questions and Answers." The report suggests the following principles for marking the boundary between teaching about religion, which is Constitutionally permitted, and religious indoctrination, which is not:[5]

         The schoolís approach to religion is academic, not devotional.

In a very general sense, this set of guidelines fairly summarizes a theory of what the federal courts should permit -- religious indifference. Mohammed? Zoroaster? Wotan? Christ? Whatever.

Indifference as "Progress"

More recently, the federal Department of Education adopted regulations regarding accommodation of religious speech in government schools. As described by Brian Jones, a DOE attorney, those regulations do not attempt to move beyond the existing case law concerning religious speech in schools: "What we are trying to do&ldots; is bring some clarity to the perceived fuzziness in the law by letting districts know exactly what the courts are saying and standardizing that view."[6]

In truth, the regulations are an attempt to rein in the increasingly overt hostility toward Christianity manifested in government schools across the country. Despite not departing from existing law, the Department of Educationís new regulations have drawn criticism
from liberal groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State.[7] In other words, an attempt to return to mere "indifference" toward Christianity is now viewed as controversial by liberals and, unfortunately, as progress by Christians.

The new regulations notwithstanding, those within the education establishment who are opposed to Christianity will continue to find ways to make government schools a hostile environment for Christian children, teachers, and administrators. You can count on it.

Our Obligation to Give Our Children a Christian Education and "The Silence of the Pastors"

Even though the Department of Educationís regulations may pass Constitutional muster, they scarcely constitute an acceptable approach to the education of Christian children. Nor, as you will see, do they represent what is really happening inside government schools.

Our God is a jealous God. We may not put other gods before Him, and we cannot be double minded in the way we live our lives. As Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, "He who is not with Me is against Me." Plainly, an education that attempts to distance itself from a commitment to Christianity, and to treat all religious beliefs as equal, is profoundly anti-Christian.

The Bible repeatedly indicates that children are to receive a Christian education, and parents are responsible for providing it. Parents, for example, are directed to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Moreover, their obligation is not to instruct children in the Word occasionally, but to do so all of the time (Deuteronomy 6:6).[8] Yet, today, most Christian parents behave as if there are passages in the Bible instructing them to give the education of their children over to anti-Christian government schools and telling them that exposing their children to Christianity two or three hours a week is sufficient.

About 85% of Christian children attend government schools, but the message that Christian parents are obligated to provide a Christian education to their children is seldom heard from the pulpit. Can you imagine a similar silence if 85% of a congregationís parents with school-age children had a "drug problem" or an "adultery problem"? For far too long and for far too many Christian parents and churches this has been an area of spiritual blindness. Regrettably, we have failed to give our children a Christian education because we have been hearers of the word rather than doers of the word (James 1:22-23).

The Theologies of the Government School

Any Christian who believes that government schools operate on religiously neutral principles is deceived. There is no such thing as metaphysical neutrality. If a society or an institution rejects the Bibleís teaching about the nature of God, man and the universe, then it necessarily accepts, implicitly or explicitly, some other worldview, whether it be the materialist metaphysics of secular humanism, the cosmic humanism of the New Age religions, or something else. Government schools are no exception. 

The net result of the last fifty years or so of Supreme Court rulings on the meaning of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution has not been to create a level playing field for different beliefs, but simply to take all vestiges of Christianity out of government schools. Today, secular humanism, New Age mysticism, and other forms of paganism pervade government schools at all levels. The teachersí unions, such as the NEA, are openly hostile to Christianity and its values, and the curricula of schools of education, from which the overwhelming majority of teachers are drawn, are suffused with a mťlange of secular humanist, New Age, and other worldviews. Not surprisingly, textbook publishers accommodate the education establishmentís worldview by providing textbooks that conform to the prevailing anti-Christian perspective of the education establishment.

Secular Humanism and Government Schools

For at least the better part of a century a version of humanism,[9] often termed "secular humanism," and Christianity have been the two major contending worldviews in America. At the core of secular humanism is a materialist metaphysics. According to that worldview, matter, energy, and the laws of physics are what ultimately exist, and they can explain everything that happens.

The Humanist Manifesto of 1933 was perhaps the first broadly influential and coherent American statement of the tenets of secular humanism.[10] The Manifestoís authors, who included the education theorist John Dewey, explicitly characterized their views as "religious." As they were quick to point out, however, their "religion" was not traditional. Rather, the authors of the Manifesto simply stated that the Manifesto articulated their philosophical views about "matters of final concern" -- e.g., the nature of the universe, what exists, the place of Man in the universe, and so on. Consequently, their project was to set forth a new secular view of reality that they believed would better fit the needs of the age.

What exactly is the worldview of the Humanist Manifesto? Among other things, Dewey and the other authors:[11]

         Regarded the universe as self-existing and not created.

The extent of the influence of the Manifesto itself is a matter for scholarly research. What is certain, however, is that the ideas embodied in the Manifesto were tremendously influential. Nowhere did those ideas result in a more radical change than in American education.

Establishing Secular Humanism

The triumph of secular humanism in American schools has not been the result of legislation or popular clamor; it was imposed by the federal courts. As adopted, the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits, among other things, both the establishment of religion and interference in the free exercise of religion by the federal government. It was not a grant of power to Congress or the federal courts authorizing them to involve themselves in state actions touching upon religion. And, indeed, the religion clauses of the First Amendment were not much litigated until after the Supreme Courtís decision in Everson v. Board of Education in 1947.

Everson and the Transformation of Government Schools

In Everson, the Supreme Court upheld a New Jersey school board resolution directing that all parents whose children must ride public buses to school be reimbursed for the amount of the fares. Everson is typically described as a taxpayer suit in which the plaintiff objected that the reimbursement of bus fare violated the Establishment Clause because some of the parents reimbursed were sending their children to Catholic parochial schools. This much is true. But it should also be pointed out that the plaintiff, Arch Everson, was a member of the New Jersey chapter of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics, a nativist organization that had often allied itself with the Klan.[12] According to legal historian Philip Hamburger: "In the 1930s, after the decline of the Klan, the Junior Order continued to stand Ďat the portals of our American public school system to guard it from sectarian and foreign influence.í"[13] In other words, the Junior Order viewed its role in large part as "protecting" government schools from Catholicism. Not surprisingly, although Arch Eversonís name was on the pleadings, the Junior Order was the real force behind the case.[14]

Everson reflected a social climate during the decade of the 1940s in which Catholicism continued to be viewed with suspicion by significant parts of American society. As in the past, the nativists were not alone in their hostility towards Catholicism. Many secular liberals were angered by the Catholic Churchís opposition to communism, and many "theologically and politically liberal" Protestants and Jews considered Catholicism "divisive."[15] Further, issues touching on education were undoubtedly points of great sensitivity for American liberals and nativists, whose ability to force children into government schools had been foreclosed by the Supreme Courtís 1925 ruling in Pierce v. Society of Sisters.

While the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the Establishment Clause had been violated, it also for the first time found that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment applied to the states as a result of the adoption of the 14th Amendment.[16] In his opinion for the Court, Justice Black, a former Democrat Senator from Alabama appointed to the Court by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also laid down the now well-known doctrine that the purpose of the Establishment Clause is to erect "a wall of separation between church and state."

The subtlety of Justice Blackís ruling was lost for a time on the supporters of the plaintiff in Everson. Indeed, there was a keen sense of betrayal. Black, after all, had been a member of the Klan who "had long before sworn, under the light of flaming crosses, to preserve Ďthe sacred constitutional rightsí of Ďfree public schoolsí and Ďseparation of church and state.í Subsequently, he had administered this oath to thousands of others in similar ceremonies.&ldots;"[17] Jim Esdale, a Grand Dragon of the Klan and Klan colleague of Black, had also noted that "Hugo could make the best anti-Catholic speech you ever heard."[18] Of course, when his Klan membership was discovered shortly after his confirmation to the Supreme Court, Black distanced himself from the Klan.[19]

Even though Black had ostensibly retired his sheets by the time he reached the Supreme Court, he continued to feed his Klan-period views of the Catholic Church by reading the "respectable" anti-Catholic writings of the secular humanist and liberal, Paul Blanshard.[20] Thus, itís not surprising that having written an opinion ruling in favor of a state expenditure that indirectly benefited Catholic schools Justice Black was, at least initially, excoriated by liberals and nativists alike.[21]

Black, however, knew what he was about. As noted by Philip Hamburger: "in a conversation with a clerk, he [Black] alluded to it [the Everson ruling] as a Pyrrhic victory." This also, in time, was appreciated by at least some supporters of an expansive view of the "separation of church and state."[22] For example, Joseph Martin Daw son, a liberal Baptist leader and supporter of Eversonís suit against the New Jersey school board, ultimately declared, "[W]e had lost the battle, but won the war."[23]

It is at least somewhat ironic that an unreconstructed ex-Klansman wrote the opinion in what has proved to be the most important case in Establishment Clause jurisprudence, and that Everson was effectively served up to the Supreme Court by an organization that shared the views of the Klan on the issue at stake in that case.[24] We must wonder, too, if the members of the Supreme Court who have subsequently elaborated on the "separation" principle in Everson have really understood the origins of the jurisprudence they have been applying.[25]

The Meaning of Everson

As a practical matter, Everson made the federal courts the arbiter of what the states could and could not do in the area of religion. Never mind that for the roughly eighty years following the adoption of the 14th Amendment no federal court had claimed or noticed that it had this power. Never mind, also, that a few years after the adoption of the 14th Amendment the Congress rejected a proposed Constitutional amendment known as the Blaine Amendment, which had as its express purpose the application of the religion clauses to the states.[26]

Whatever the reasons given by the Supreme Court for its actions in Everson, the truth of the matter is that the Court simply decided that it was time for the federal courts to force the transformation of American culture and its institutions -- including the government schools. What kind of transformation? A transformation in which Justice Blackís "wall of separation" language was to be interpreted eventually as requiring the elimination all traces of a Christian worldview from government schools and, more generally, the public policies of the federal government and the states. In effect, Everson made the thorough secularization of government schools a mission of the federal courts. It also placed a powerful weapon in the hands of the enemies of Christianity.

Until the 1970s the public policy battles fought by Christians involving education predominantly concerned religious symbols and observances in schools, aid to religious schools, and the teaching of evolution. Christians lost these battles decisively. The Supreme Court long ago outlawed prayer and other forms of religious observance in government schools. Similarly, the Supreme Court has prohibited aid to religious schools except under very limited circumstances. Darwinian evolution is now well-entrenched dogma in most government schools. In fact, Darwinís theory of evolution even enjoys a measure of legal protection against competition as a result of a 1987 Supreme Court decision holding that Louisiana could not mandate the teaching of creationism alongside evolution because creationism, the court claimed, is essentially a religious doctrine.

In another example of the evolution wars, the Kansas State Board of Education in 1999 removed most of the references to Darwinís theory of evolution from the stateís educational standards.[27] This had the practical effect of leaving Kansas school districts free to set their own curriculum standards for the teaching of evolution and also assured that evolution would not be tested on new statewide science tests. No district was prohibited from teaching evolution, and no district was required to teach any competing theory. Yet even this modest victory was short lived. Two years later, a new school board restored the theory of evolution to the state standards, in effect returning the theory of evolution to its monopoly position within Kansas government schools.[28]

Thus, while Christians have divergent views on matters of origins and creation, it is a measure of the influence of secular humanism in government schools that the education establishment brooks no opposition to the theory of evolution.

The New Paganism

In 1973, having enjoyed more success in transforming American culture and education than they could have imagined in 1933, humanists restated and reaffirmed their gospel in the Humanist Manifesto II. The Humanist Manifesto II reiterated the same anti-Christian themes of the original Manifesto. But it also discarded the rhetoric of religion contained in the original Manifesto and focused far more explicitly on social and moral issues than its predecessor. Its devotees were instructed, for example, that abortion should be legal, nationalism should be rejected, war is obsolete, the earth must be considered a single ecosystem, and "moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest."[29]

Religious Humanism and the New Age

The publication of the Humanist Manifesto II coincided roughly with the high tide of secular humanismís influence within government schools. Beginning in the 1970s, however, new forms of religious humanism based on various neo-pagan, environmental, spiritualist, and other occult beliefs (often loosely labeled as the New Age movement) started infiltrating government schools. In essence, much of the New Age movement incorporates the "transpersonal psychology" that grew out of the work of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow in the 1960s, along with various forms of eastern mysticism and the occult. One handbook on cults explicitly describes the New Age movement this way:

The central vision of the New Age is one of radical mystical transformation on an individual level. It involves an awakening to such new realities as a discovery of psychic abilities, the experience of physical or psychological healing, the emergence of new potentials within oneself... the acceptance of a new picture of the universe. The essence of the New Age is the imposition of that personal vision onto society and the world. Thus, the New Age is ultimately a vision of the world transformed, a heaven on earth, a society in which the problems of today are overcome and a new existence emerges.[30]

New Age spirituality denies the existence of our transcendent God. Instead, it often preaches a kind of pantheism (all is god) or pantheism (all is becoming god).

Over the last thirty years the influence of the New Age movement has perhaps eclipsed secular humanism as the primary agent of anti-Christian influence within government schools. A few examples will illustrate what is going on.

What a Friend We Have in Ganesha

Imagine asking your child some evening what he learned in school and having him respond: "Nothing much. We made images of a Hindu god, Ganesha, and learned that when we remove a plant from the garden or cut down a tree we should pray to Mother Earth to ask her permission. Oh, have you seen this really neat card game with demons and vampires that help me learn math? We get to cast spells and sacrifice people and everything!" Actually, for some of the parents of Bedford Central School District in New York the curriculum included all that and more.

In the late 1990s some parents became concerned about what was being taught in the Bedford Central School District schools when they discovered that their children were playing a card game called "Magic: The Gathering" as part of school-sanctioned extracurricular activities.[31] In the game, players compete by accumulating "mana," which is characterized as "power that comes from the earth." The game also involved casting spells and ritualistic human sacrifice. Moreover, the imagery on the cards was troubling. One card, for example, depicted a frightened woman with a hand holding her head down and a large knife at her throat. Another card showed a man with a knife about to be driven into his heart and was inscribed with the words "Sacrifice one of your creatures to add to your mana pool a number of black mana equal to that creatureís casting cost." Further inquiry by the parents uncovered pagan "Earth Day" rituals and other strange practices within the Bedford schools.

As a result of their investigation, these parents filed a lawsuit alleging practices within the school district that in their totality involved "the promotion of Satanism and occultism, pagan religions and a New Age Spirituality." Those practices included, among other things:[32]

         Teachers playing an audio-tape in class called "Listening to Nature" that used a background of forest and ocean sounds to present prayers and invocations reflecting North American Indian animist religious beliefs, such as the following Taos Indian creed: "The Mother of us all is the Earth. The Father is the Sun. The Grandfather is the Creator who bathed us with his mind and gave life to all things. The Brother is the beasts and trees. The Sister is that with wings. We are children of the earth and do it no harm in any way, nor do we offend the Sun by not greeting it at dawn. We praise our Grandfather for his creation. We share the same breath together, the beasts, the trees, the birds and the man."

The two-week trial included a parade of colorful witnesses including a yogi-numerologist known as the "Yoga Guy," a psychic-telepath, and a mineralogist known as the "Rock Hound."

Two and one-half months after the trial, U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on three of their allegations. The judge noted particularly that some of the aspects of the Earth Day celebrations were "truly bizarre" and had many of the attributes of the worship ceremonies of organized religions. Consequently, Judge Brieant ordered, among other things, that the school district: (1) prevent school sponsorship of earth worship, nature worship, or North American Indian animism, (2) remove worry dolls from the schools and refrain from suggesting that tangible objects have supernatural powers, and (3) prohibit directing students to make graven images or likenesses of gods or religious symbols.

On appeal, however, a panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed all of Judge Brieantís findings for the plaintiffs.[33] Although most of the reversals were based on technical grounds, the Court of Appeals, incredibly, found that the Earth Day ceremonies did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Yes, But Thatís Just New York

Most Christian parents have no idea how far the New Age and related movements have penetrated into government school practices and
curricula. Before looking at this issue more broadly, letís consider some examples similar to the Bedford Central School District case.

New Age Buddhist Conga Lines in Utah?

The Jefferson 21st Century Institute, a tax exempt organization that promotes the separation of church and state, recently reported on New Age practices in Utah, a state not known for having much in common culturally with New York:[34]

         Uintah and Duchense School Districts. Third graders were sent to an Earth Day ceremony "that included prayers by a Ute elder and the Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish in which trees were blessed and Mother Earth was praised." The ceremony also included devotional statements instructing the children that the earth and trees are sacred.

The Waldorf New Age: Lucifer and Teacher Training

Other government schools have adopted, or have considered adopting, the Waldorf curriculum, which is based on the rather peculiar New Age doctrines of Rudolph Steiner, a 19th century German.[35] Some of the more colorful aspects of the Waldorf method received public attention when two school districts in California that had set up "Waldorf" schools were sued by an organization known as People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools.

The lawsuit revealed that one of the school districts used a manual called The Waldorf Teacherís Survival Guide to train teachers in Waldorf teaching methods.[36] An examination of the manual made it clear that Waldorf schooling had its roots in Steinerís theology, which is known as "Anthroposophy." Anthroposophy regards Lucifer as the god of light, and his nemesis is Ahriman, the god of darkness. According to Steiner, Christ came to earth as a sun god to balance the forces of light and darkness. These teachings are reflected in The Waldorf Teacherís Survival Guide:

"Most of that which contributes to our work as teachers, preparation work, artistic work, even meditative work, is under the guardianship of Lucifer. We can become great teachers under his supervision, for he is responsible for much that has blossomed in the unfolding of the civilization and culture in the past." [Emphasis added.][37]

Anthroposophy also includes some very unusual views concerning race (e.g., it associates intelligence with blondness), medicine (e.g., it views illness as primarily the result of a disturbance of a "vital essence"), and evolution (e.g., animals are believed to be by-products of human development).[38]The organization that brought the California lawsuit also discovered that school teachers in the Waldorf government schools had been instructed by Anthroposophist trainers from the Rudolph Steiner College to use zodiac signs to categorize children.[39] But it gets even stranger. One parent reviewed the course of study for Waldorf teachers at the Rudolph Steiner College and was stunned to find that it was, in her view, a religious institution:

When I read what the course of study was for Waldorf teachers, I realized right away that it was a religious seminary. Thereís no core academic classes in the entire teacher training program.&ldots; The required text for the first year includes occult science, and the spiritual hierarchies, spiritual guidance of man&ldots;I mean, whereís the phonics? [Emphasis added.][40]

WWGD: What Would the Gnome Do?

When questioned about how the exotic doctrines of Anthroposophy get applied in the classroom, Waldorf teachers usually say something along the lines of "Just because Steiner had some odd views, it doesnít mean we canít use his insights" or "Even though we may be trained in Anthroposophy, we donít teach it in the classroom." Waldorf practice, however, doesnít seem to bear this out.

One intrepid Texas reporter, for instance, ventured into the precincts of a newly opened suburban Waldorf private kindergarten.[41] There he found a "TV and computer blackout" based on the Waldorf belief that the dark spirit "Ahriman" lives inside the boxes; gnome dolls in the classroom representing the Anthroposophical belief that there are elemental beings that care for the air, soil, and water; and staff who will tell you that illnesses later in life can be traced to early reading.[42]

Gnomes are important to Waldorf. Think of the gnomes as playing the role of Charlie McCarthy to the teachersí Edgar Bergen. Waldorf teachers "ask" the gnomes questions to teach children the Waldorf way of thinking about things. In addition, the gnomes provide a kind of deniability: the teachers donít teach Anthroposophy, the gnomes do.

The reporter also observed parts of the Waldorf liturgy. Before meals, for example, the children recite the Waldorf version of "grace": "Earth, who gives to us this food, sun who makes it ripe and good. Dear sun, dear earth, by you we live, our loving thanks to you we give."[43] Later, during "music and movement" time, the children walked around a candle chanting in a "spirit recital of mother earth."[44] Yet, the Waldorf program is widely considered nonsectarian and has been spreading in government schools primarily through the charter school movement.[45]

Donít Worry, It Isnít Really Wicca or Deep Ecology

Every school day across America, thousands of children bring home permission slips for mom or dad to sign so that they can participate in some inoffensively described government school sponsored activity or program. So, imagine the surprise of a Michigan mother who decided to attend the first day of an "environmental" program called "Earthkeepers" with her fourth grade daughter only to discover that Earthkeepers was much more like a three-day introduction to Wicca and Deep Ecology[46] than a program about environmental science.

Wicca is a pagan religion associated with witchcraft, while Deep Ecology is an environmentalist philosophy associated with eco-terrorism that many think has its roots in Wicca. The first principle of Wicca is that "We are all connected -- people, plants, and animals." Similarly, Deep Ecologists believe that we are all part of the earth. Deep Ecologists also believe that the population of the earth must be substantially reduced and are supporters of abortion and euthanasia. Significantly, the Earthkeepers curriculum was written by a noted Deep Ecologist, Steve Van Matre, who is also the author of a book, Earth Education. In Earth Education Van Matre explicitly states that earth education should be about inculcating all of the message of Deep Ecology.

So, what does all of this look like when translated into a program targeted at nine-year-olds that allegedly teaches children about the environment? The children begin the Earthkeepers program by forming a circle and joining themselves at the elbows. Next, they are taken into the laboratory of a mysterious "wizard" named "E.M." The laboratory, it turns out, is a dark, candle lit garage decorated with herbs and plants on the wall. Eventually the children are told that "E.M." stands for "energy and materials," "my experience," and "Me."

Part of the Earthkeepers program is devoted to telling children how "specks" -- which in Earthkeepersí terminology turn out to be water, soil, air, and energy from the sun -- form "trails," i.e., are involved in the transformation of things into other things. The children were also told to choose "magic spots" where they would "reflect" on nature. In addition, the children were instructed to chant in unison the concepts behind the four "keys" of Earthkeepers: "All living things are connected. Getting in touch with the earth is a good feeling. Your actions on the earth make a difference. Helping others improve their relationship with the earth is an urgent task." In all of this the children are helped by Earthkeeper teachers who wear medallions that on one side resemble an astrological chart.

In the beginning, the Michigan mother, who is also a cancer surgeon, was mainly concerned about the programís lack of scientific content and use of unscientific terms such as "specks." As she investigated further, she found that Earthkeepers had numerous obvious parallels with Wicca and ties to Deep Ecology. When she raised her concerns about these parallels she was told that they were just coincidences:

They are doing things that are very much like things in pagan religions and telling us it doesnít mean anything... Is it just a coincidence that E.M.ís lab looks like a Witches Cove, coincidence that the specks taught in Earthkeepers are the same as the elements of witchcraft [air, earth, fire, and water], coincidence that the magic spots are similar to pagan meditation, coincidence that the medallion with the symbol has the same shape as the astrological chart?[47]

But this doesnít exhaust the "coincidences." Was it also a coincidence that the circles the children were gathered into were also similar to the circles practitioners of Wicca form to "contain energy flow"? Was it coincidence that the first key concept of Earthkeepers that the children chanted in unison in a dark candle lit room is also a first principle of Wicca? Was it a coincidence that the "E.M." concept as used in Earthkeepers seemed to represent, as the Michigan mother concluded, the principle from Deep Ecology and Wicca that everything on earth, including people, is connected? Finally, was it a coincidence that all of these coincidences just happen to be part of a curriculum written by a Deep Ecologist?

By the way, Earthkeepers is used not only in Michigan, but also in 30 other states and in some foreign countries.

From Sea to Shining Sea

Far from being isolated events, the incidents described above are a reflection of American primary and secondary schools being awash in non-Christian worldviews. These are most commonly found in transpersonal and humanistic curricula. Humanistic education typically involves training children in values clarification and emphasizes the importance of developing self-esteem.[48] Humanistic approaches to education may also involve hypnosis or other psychotherapeutic techniques. Unlike humanistic education, which tends to have a secular
focus, transpersonal education is just New Age religion in drag. It is, therefore, more obviously essentially religious. Moreover, because humanistic and transpersonal approaches to education are not mutually exclusive, they often show up in combination.

While "humanistic education" and "transpersonal education" may not be familiar terms, if a school-age child has ever told you "Whatís right for you is not necessarily right for me," the odds are that heís been through a humanistic values clarification curriculum teaching
situational ethics in at least one of the schools he has attended. Similarly, if you have heard terms such as "guided imagery," "centering," "inner guides," "left/right brain equilibrium," "visualization," or "human potential" from a child or anyone else connected with a primary or secondary school, or if you have seen them in a studentís handouts or textbooks, you are seeing evidence of the presence of transpersonal education in your schools. But even if you havenít seen or heard any of these things, you should not assume that they are not in your public schools because, as we will see below, concealing what is going on from parents has been an accepted tactic among transpersonal and humanistic educators for years.

In their important and wide-ranging study of the influence of humanistic and transpersonal curricula in schools, John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Craig Branch observed in 1993:

It can be demonstrated that there are many educators and curriculum developers who are either personally involved in the New Age perspective or have accepted the practices, techniques, and theories without knowledge of their source.... It can be demonstrated that the adoption of New Age/occultic ideology and practices is not just sporadic and random... these beliefs tend to enter through counseling; self-esteem, stress reduction, health, and gifted programs; creative writing classes; some global education courses; and some literature curricula...The usual form these programs take is in deep breathing relaxation or progressive relaxation exercises, guided imagery, and visualization. These are sometimes associated with inappropriate and ineffective value-free or affective learning programs. [Emphasis added.][49]

Moreover, the authors of the study found that these curricula are based on Eastern and other mystical traditions:

The techniques and the presuppositions on which such programs are based are intrinsic to Eastern and other mystical religious traditions and practices (such as Hinduism and meditation). Further, they are frequently synonymous with the techniques of hypnosis and trance induction. Unfortunately, often these techniques are disguised to project a secular appearance. [Emphasis added.][50]

Obviously, there is plenty of religion in government schools. Itís just not Christianity.

Endnotes for Chapter 1, Part 1:

1. Joe R. Burnett, The Humanist, 6 (1961), p. 347, as cited in Robert L. Waggoner, "The Humanization of America in Culture, Education, and Law," an article adapted from the second chapter of an unpublished doctoral dissertation, available at

2. The use of the term "public schools" today misleads more than it informs. "Public schools" are in fact government schools -- schools that for all practical purposes are controlled by government officials outside of the communities that the schools purport to serve. One hundred years ago it was true that the communities in which public schools were located made almost all decisions regarding the operation of their schools, and those schools were in every sense fully accountable to the communities that established and supported them. Unfortunately, that sort of community control and accountability is a distant memory. What we have now are "public" schools that in all important respects are controlled by state and federal legislation, agencies, and courts. Teachersí unions and similar organizations also exert far more influence over "public schools" than local taxpayers and parents. The main role of local communities now is to supply students and money.

3. "Christian Symbols Donít Make the Grade in U.S. Schools," EWTN News (, December 16, 2001.

4. Mary Mostert, "The ACLU  Americaís Very Own Taliban Demands End of ĎGod Bless Americaí," Banner of Liberty, October 8, 2001.

5. These bullet points are based on "Religion in the Social Studies Curriculum," ERIC Digest, Risinger, C. Frederick, Publication Date: 1993-08-00, ERIC Identifier: ED363553.

6. As quoted in Jim Remsen, "Schools Risk U.S. Funds if Prayer Isnít Tolerated," Philadelphia Inquirer, February 15, 2003.

7. Jim Remsen, "Schools Risk U.S. Funds if Prayer Isnít Tolerated," Philadelphia Inquirer, February 15, 2003.

8. Chris Klicka has compiled a very helpful collection of Bible verses relating to the education of our children. Chris Klicka, "Biblical Reasons to Homeschool," National Center for Home Education, available online at

9. While the historical development of "humanism" in the United States is an interesting story, it is not essential to this discussion. Suffice it to say that the rise of humanism in the United States as a significant cultural force began in the 19th century, with humanism reaching its full maturity in the fourth through eighth decades of the 20th century.

10. Both the original Humanist Manifesto and the Humanist Manifesto II are available from the American Humanist Association or on the Internet at

11. These bullet points are drawn from the Humanist Manifestos, which are available online at

12. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 455 - 456. The discussion of the social aspects of Everson and the background of Justice Black condenses Hamburgerís interesting and detailed account.

13. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 456.

14. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 455 - 457.

15. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 452 - 453.

16. Vast expansions of judicial power have resulted from this sort of "misdirection play" in which the Court declines, with apparent modesty, to set aside an action of another governmental entity, but does so by establishing a legal principle that will later allow the Court to override the actions of that entity. Marbury v. Madison is the best known example in which the Court created its own power of judicial review of the actions of Congress. In Everson, the Court bootstrapped its way into becoming the arbiter of what states could do in the area of religion.

17. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 462.

18. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 427.

19. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 429 - 434.

20. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 463, quoting Blackís son: "The Ku Klux Klan and Daddy, so far as I could tell, only had one thing in common. He suspected the Catholic Church. He used to read all of Paul Blanshardís books exposing power abuse in the Catholic Church&ldots;."

21. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 463 - 470

22. Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 462.

23. As quoted in Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 462.

24. There is substantial reason to believe that Black had left the Klan (though not his Klan sympathies) out of political expediency. See Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 422 - 434.

25. The influence on First Amendment jurisprudence of Jeffersonís phrase, "a wall of separation between church and state" in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut is quite remarkable considering that Jefferson was not even in the country during the Constitutional Convention and was not a member of the Congress in which the First Amendment was passed. For anyone interested in the origins of Jeffersonís "wall of separation" metaphor, see Daniel L. Dreisbach, Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State (New York: New York University Press, 2002).

26. Apparently, the benighted Congressmen in 1876 who debated the Blaine Amendment pro and con, many of whom had participated in the passage and ratification of the 14th Amendment, didnít realize that the 14th Amendment had already applied the religion clauses to the states. That remarkable discovery was evidently left to the superior intellects of a Supreme Court eighty years distant. It should also be noted that the Blaine Amendment was not the first attempt to amend the Constitution to apply the First Amendmentís religion clauses to the states. In 1870, for example, Elisha Hurlburt introduced a Constitutional amendment that would have not only extended the First Amendmentís religion clauses to the states, but would also have allowed Congress to outlaw the ecclesiastical structure of the Catholic Church. See Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 437 and n. 113.

27. Bess Keller and Adrienne Coles, "Kansas Evolution Controversy Gives Rise to National Debate," Education Week, September 8, 1999.

28. "Evolution Dawns on Kansas," Associated Press, February 14, 2001, and "Kansas Votes to Restore Evolution in School Standards,", available at

29. Recently the American Humanist Association published Humanist Manifesto III. Although there are differences in organization and emphasis between Manifesto III and the earlier versions, the core beliefs remain the same (e.g., "Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing."). All of the Manifestos, as well as other materials on secular humanism, are available online at

30. J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America (New York: Garland, 1986), p. 113.

31. Much of the following account of what went on in the Bedford schools is based on Judge Brieantís opinion in Altman v. Bedford Central School District, 45F. Supp. 2d. 368 (SDNY 1999).

32. Altman v. Bedford Central School District, 45F. Supp. 2d. 368 (SDNY 1999).

33. 245 F.3d 49 (2d Cir. 2001), cert. Denied 122 S. Ct. 68 (2001).

34. These bullet points are a condensation of information contained in Alert No. 990809, The Jefferson 21st Century Institute; "Jefferson 21st Century Institute Files Lawsuit to Obtain Records of Week-Long Buddhist Ceremony at Park City High School, News Release," March 7, 2000; and "Threats to Separation of Religion and Government," Jefferson 21st Century Institute.

35. Stephan Archer, "Public Schools teaching occult religion? Lawsuit challenges tax funding of New Age curriculum,", October 1, 1999. Eugenie C. Scott, "Waldorf Schools Teach Odd Science, Odd Evolution," National Center for Science Education, 1994, available online at

36. Stephan Archer, "Public Schools teaching occult religion? Lawsuit challenges tax funding of New Age curriculum,", October 1, 1999.

37. Stephan Archer, "Public Schools teaching occult religion? Lawsuit challenges tax funding of New Age curriculum,", October 1, 1999.

38. Eugenie C. Scott, "Waldorf Schools Teach Odd Science, Odd Evolution," National Center for Science Education 1994, available online at

39. Stephan Archer, "Public Schools teaching occult religion? Lawsuit challenges tax funding of New Age curriculum,", October 1, 1999.

40. Stephan Archer, "Public Schools teaching occult religion? Lawsuit challenges tax funding of New Age curriculum,", October 1, 1999.

41. The reporter is Michael Serazio. His account of his Waldorf adventure, from which this paragraph draws its facts, is "School Spirit(s)," Houston Press, February 5-11, 2004, pp.13-14. Serazioís report on the goings-on inside Waldorf schools is consistent with what others have found.

42. The Waldorf explanation is "&ldots;the body needs to push out the hardest force, the teeth, during the first period of physical transformation Ďillnesses later in life can be traced to this premature intellectuality that comes in childhood.í" Michael Serazio, "School Spirit(s)," Houston Press, February 5-11, 2004, at p. 14. So, reading too early interferes with pushing out teeth, which in turn leads to bad health, or something like that. Iím sure it makes better sense after a couple of beers.

43. Michael Serazio, "School Spirit(s)," Houston Press, February 5-11, 2004, at p. 13.

44. Michael Serazio, "School Spirit(s)," Houston Press, February 5-11, 2004, at p. 14.

45. For example, as of fall 2000 there were roughly ten Waldorf charter schools in California and three in Arizona. Generally, promoters of the Waldorf curriculum usually tout the high test scores of students in their programs and deny that Steinerís anthroposophy is taught within their schools. While it may be true that anthroposophy is not formally presented as a part of the Waldorf curriculum, the methods, the teacher training, and the worldview involved in Waldorf education incorporate anthroposophy. A visit to, a website created by teachers, administrators, and parents formerly involved in Waldorf schooling, will provide a great deal of information regarding what is really going on in Waldorf schools (some of it is hilarious). I would specifically recommend reading Eugenie C. Scott, "Waldorf Schools Teach Odd Science, Odd Evolution," National Center for Science Education 1994, available online at The information regarding the number of Waldorf charters in fall 2000 in California and Arizona is taken from Claudia M. Lenart, "Waldorf Succeeds in Public Schools," Conscious Choice, August 2000. But note that on February 7, 2001, the Chico Unified School District Board of Education rejected a proposal to establish a Waldorf charter school on the ground that it was sectarian.

46. This narrative is based on facts contained in an article by Jason Pierce, Staff Writer, "Wicca, Ecology Debated in Michigan School Controversy," May 14, 2001.

47. Jason Pierce, Staff Writer, "Wicca, Ecology Debated in Michigan School Controversy," May 14, 2001, at p. 4.

48. Improving childrenís "self-esteem" has long been alleged to prevent smoking, drinking, illegal drug use, and early sex, as well as improve school and job performance. These kinds of claims have become articles of faith in schools of education and among the public at large. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support these claims. The most recent study confirming that the resources devoted to improving studentsí self-esteem were an investment in humbug (or worse) can be found in a monograph by a group of researchers led by Roy Baumeister in the May 2003 issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest. For a discussion of the Baumeister study, see Sharon Begley, "Real Self-Esteem Builds on Achievement, Not Praise for Slackers," The Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2003, B1.

49. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Craig Branch, Thieves of Innocence (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), p. 111. This book was subsequently reprinted under the title Public Schools: The Sorcererís New Apprentice?, which is available from the Apologetic Resource Centerís website at .

50. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Craig Branch, Thieves of Innocence (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), p. 111.

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