I have been asked by many of my friends who oppose the Public Education System to watch a movie entitled, “IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America”, and I can honestly say that I have watch the film in its entirety. There were a number of observations that I will make about the film to give an honest review from a youth pastor, public school parent, a substitute teacher, and most importantly a Christian.
1. The difficulty of sharing the Gospel as a teacher.
The movie did do a good job showing that there is difficulty sharing the Gospel as a teacher, but they pushed it so far as to make it seem like a Christian teacher or Principle can have little to no impact on the students in a public school. They make it seem like every public school is going to fire you for speaking about the Lord, grant it there are some areas where this might be true, but the truth be told there are ways to talk about God in the classroom while abiding by the rules of the schools. Some would say that there shouldn’t be rules against talking about God in the first place. But I can tell you that most work places, government or not, do not want you to talk about God when you are supposed to be working. So to separate from public schools for this one reason is hypocritical and unreasonable.
When I worked at McDonald’s during my years at college, I was told from the very beginning, that while I was on the clock I was not to bring up the subject of religion or God. Why? Because I was hired to work not talk about the Lord. Now my co-workers certainly knew that I was a Christian and knew that any time I was not on the clock that they were free to talk to me about Christ.
I can now also speak with authority on the subject of speaking of the Bible and of the Lord in the Public Schools. I am a regular substitute teacher in the Public School Sector. Whenever I enter the class room, I immediately distinguish myself as someone who the students can feel free to talk to about the Bible and about the Lord. I tell them my name is “Aaron McBride, I am a Youth Pastor at a local church and I also do freelance graphic design work”. Pupils know that they can talk to me about the Bible. The only rule given to me as a teacher is this, “you may not initiate a conversation about anything religious, however if a student asks you something about your beliefs or the Bible, you may engage in conversation as long as the student wants to continue the conversation.” I can tell you that I have had entire classrooms interested in my worldview as a Youth Pastor, and have had complete freedom to share Christ in the classroom.
2. The Percentage of “Christians” in the Public Schools
After watching this movie and reading several other sites that speak out against children being educated in something other than a Christian/Home School setting, they have done a good job of making up a statistic. They say that 90% of Christian parents will send their child to public schools, however if you try to find an actual research done to get that percentage it is not to be found. In fact here is what the producer himself said when he was interviewed by The New America.
TNA: You claim that 90 percent of Christian children are enrolled in public schools. How did you arrive at that statistic?
GUNN: It’s hard to pinpoint a precise number. We’ve seen various statistics anywhere from 80 to 90 percent, but the important point is that the vast majority of Christian parents are sending their children there.
The problem with the 90% figure is that they assume that just because a person is a church goer it makes them a Christian. But we all know that there is a big difference between a Practicing Christian and a Professing Christian. If you were to break the percentage down between those two categories you would find that the percentage of actual Practicing Christians in the public school is far less that the 90% would indicate. In the US we have about 75% of the population who claim to be Christian ( Christian being as the media defines it not as the Bible. I do not count the 2% of Mormons in this statistic. If we were to also break down the group of Christians into people who teach salvation as the Bible teaches, the percentage of ‘Christian’ children in the public school would be a lot different from this breakdown.), but of that 75% only 40% of these claim to go to church on a regular basis and only 20% of those go to church on a weekly basis. So out of the estimated 236.5 million proclaimed “Christian” People in the US only 94.6 million go to church on a regular basis and of that statistic 47.3 million go to church on a weekly basis. If we were to break this down into Christian homes (assuming that these are all 2 parent homes, even though the likely hood is that they are not, it will give us a good ideal of how many American families are practicing true Christianity), there are roughly 47.3 million families that claim to go to church monthly and 23.6 million of those are active weekly.
In the US there is an average of .90 children per house hold, which if we apply that to our statistics, you would have 42.5 million children active in church on a monthly basis and 21.3 million of those are active on a weekly basis. Of the 55.2 million enrolled children in the US 11.1 million are enrolled in schools outside the public schools. Let’s just assume that most of those are people coming from our two breakdowns of Christian families. If the 11.1 million in the other schools come from the larger group, than that would mean 25% of monthly active Christian children are enrolled in a private/charter/home school setting. If it comes from the families that are active weekly in church, the “true Practicing Christians”, than 52% of Practicing Christians are enrolled in private/charter/home school setting (obviously there would be some fluctuation there as we know not all people who go to private school or are home schooled are Christians). So the “facts” found in this film are misleading.
3. Laws that forbid you to speak about God in the Public Schools.
“Freedom is about raising our children to serve the Lord Jesus… they are forbidden by law to publicly state that Jesus Christ is Lord.” ~ R.C. Sproul, Jr.
Again it is true that there are limits to when and with whom you can talk about God in the public schools. There are laws that are set up to guide when it is appropriate to talk about God, but God can indeed be talked about in the Schools. Students actually have the privilage to talk about God and religion freely according to the law, but teachers are employees of the government and must abide by the guidelines of the law. This does not mean that teachers have to be completely silent though. The Christian Law Association, has given you a good guide for what you can and cannot do as a teacher that can be found HERE.
Students have a lot of right though and if parents and churches will take time to train their strong Christian students what their rights are and how to use those right to tell others about Christ, than I believe we can see a huge change in the lives of the lost seeking for a Savior. You can find a good list of Students’ rights HERE.
4. The learning of objectionable materials
Is it true that there is objectionable materials that are taught in public schools? Yes. Can you opt out of sex education classes and classes that talk about homosexuality? Yes. Can you get permission to opt out of reading materials you would not approve of your children reading? Yes. Is it possible that your child we be told about some of these issues by fellow students? Yes, probably so. Does getting information that you wouldn’t approve of only come from the Public Schools? No.
They make a point in the film that your children will learn things that you would otherwise as a parent never want your child to be exposed to, however unless you live in a cave devoid of any outside influence what so ever your children will be exposed to objectionable materials. I grew up going to Christian Schools and being Home Schooled, but I was exposed to things that my parents would disapprove of regardless of the protection of those types of schooling. It wasn’t because my parents threw me into situations to learn of those negative things, but because I lived and functioned in a “REAL” world, not a make-believe world where everyone was perfect because they were saints borne on the wings of angels to this earth. In a Christian School that was full of only kids from our church, I was exposed to pornography by fellow students, there were people who were found to be doing drugs outside of school, and students who were sexually active. As a home schooled child, there were people I went to church with every week that were home schooled and they would curse, drink, and live in complete disregard for God. So to say that this happens only in the public school is a misconception.
Just because you child goes to a public school doesn’t mean that they will turn out anti-God and will have a skewed worldview and just because your child goes to a Christian school or is home schooled doesn’t mean they will turn out for God.
Was there some good points in “IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America”? Yes there were some good points. But by in large the film is not as honest as it should be. I would rather have a film that teaches our children how they can be a godly witness in the Public Schools, if that is where the Lord has led their parents to send them. A film that teaches parents of public school students how to prepare their children to take a stand. Lastly I would like to see a film that shows Christian parents, that no matter what school their children goes to, that THEY are responsible for teaching their children about who Jesus Christ is and what it means to have a relationship with Him. THEY are responsible for teaching a Biblical worldview. In this film they assume that the decline of Christianity is to be blamed on public schools, but the real issue isn’t what is taught in the school, it is what is not taught in the home.