Schools have bid fair to replace the weather as everybody’s daily subject of conversation, and, to press Mark Twain’s quip further, nobody’s doing anything about them either. To be sure, the quip, like all such remarks, overstates the case in both instances. People are always doing something about the weather; something, that is, to protect themselves from it. So it is with the schools. People are doing all sorts of things to protect their children and themselves from the gigantic government school system now gripping the United States. Christians have tried everything from daily stone-faced Bible reading to “released time” programs without much avail. But just as nobody is changing the weather itself, neither is anybody seriously tackling the school situation.
The trouble lies in the very constitution of the state school system, which poses for Christian people a very serious dilemma. Teaching and learning based upon Christian faith and Christian scholarship are ruled out. They are ruled out not by any political considerations, or even by any inherent “secularism” or “godlessness” of temporal governments as such, but they are ruled out by Christian conviction. Being what it is, faith in Jesus Christ cannot brook a religious structure based upon the temporal power of physical force. Political powers object to the teaching of Christianity only when they themselves happen to be committed to anti-Christian powers; that is, when politicians reach out to enthrone “the leader” in the place of God.
But there is nothing inherent in political power as such which would make it impossible to buttress a religious hierarchy with the policeman. Tudor England tried it boldly by the simple expedient of passing a law requiring all Englishmen ...1
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