Five-year-old Travis stands, with shoulders straight and hands in pockets, and begins the school day reciting:

“A—All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.

“B—Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. Acts 16:31.

“C—Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Ephesians 6:1.”

Travis and his kindergarten classmates at this Christian school not only learn their ABCs, the backbone of education, but they memorize over two dozen Scripture verses in the process.

An alphabet tied to Bible verses is not typical of American schooling. But then, Christian schools operate on a different standard from public schools. Christian schools can require students to memorize Scripture. They can begin classes with prayer. They can teach the Creation account in Genesis. And they not only can teach the three Rs but can emphasize the fourth R as well: religion.

Quiet Revolution

The mere mention of religious schools once brought a vision of nuns in traditional habits. No more. Many Protestant parents, who a decade ago looked down on private schools as luxuries for the rich or the Roman Catholic, have reversed their attitudes. Now, parents who barely meet their mortgage payments view Christian academies as educational necessities.

The growing number of Christian schools outside the traditional parochial school systems represents a quiet revolution in this nation’s educational structure. While public school enrollment declined and Catholic school enrollment plummeted during the past two decades, thousands of new schools started with little fanfare, many in church buildings that used to sit empty between Sundays. More than one million schoolchildren in the ...

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