The Founders of the American Republic and the Framers of our Constitution and System of Government were very Pro-Public School. I have discovered in my research and study some interesting facts regarding the educational process, textbooks, and the administration of education in the view of the Framers and Founders. I grow increasingly weary with the insistence of those on the Left and the Separationist of Church and State proponents who insist that those men were unified and adamantly opposed to anything of religion, the Bible, and Church in education or government. Our society has allowed the banning of prayer from the public schools and most sporting events as well as government, especially Christian prayer and the reading of the Bible. Anything remotely connected to the Bible is deemed anathema to the Left, the ACLU, the Democrats and some on the Right. They advance the theory and belief that there is to be an impenetrable wall called “Separation of Church and State” arguing that prevents anything biblical being used in the public sector. Are they correct?
NO! I say that but realize that the next question would be WHY? Because for a very long time, in our American history, the Bible was used as the primary textbook in public education. Rather than those students being stymied in their political, educational, and social development many of them became some of America’s most prominent scientist, educators, writers, statesmen, military leaders, ministers, and patriots. From time to time, in our early history, someone would argue or suggest a different text to be used as the core curriculum in schools and each time it would be resoundingly rejected by the very Framers that the Separationist insist were opposed to the Bible and Religion in public. How do the Leftist resolve that conflict? They don’t but avoid the conversation and quote isolated and out of context statements of the Framers or Founders.
One of our Founders, Fisher Ames, a member of the committee that developed and wrote the Bill of Rights met this issue head-on in a published article, “School Books.” He observed the trend of putting a number of little books into the hands of students. Books that were filled with fables and supposed moral lessons. He noted that each time one of those books was placed in the classroom more time was spent on it detracted from time spent on the Bible. His observation was that the Bible was gradually being moved to the shelf and that, in his view, was a significant problem. He argued, “Why then if these books for children must be retained (as they will be), should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure; its examples captivating and noble. The reverence for the Sacred Book that is thus early impressed last long, and probably, if not impressed in infancy never takes firm hold on the mind.”
I ask that you further consider Fisher Ames, the man, the Founder, the Framer, and the American Patriot. He, some argue, is living proof of the benefits of the Bible being used in the public-school system. He learned to read at a very early age and at the age of six had begun to learn Latin. At the age of twelve, he passed the entrance exam for Harvard and graduated at the age of sixteen. Rather than being deficient or warped in his education he blossomed and became an incredible figure in American history and life. He is not alone. Another signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon had read the Bible from cover to cover at the age of four. That is Amazing! As a child, he could recite the New Testament from memory. I am impressed! John Trumbull, a Founding Father, and justice on the Supreme Court of Connecticut had completed reading the Bible by the age of four. Author Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of the abolitionist classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin), at the age of seven, had memorized twenty-seven hymns and numerous chapters from the Bible. Public school teacher, James Tappan said of Daniel Webster, “I held up a handsome new jack-knife to the scholars and said the boy who would commit to memory the greatest number of Bible verses by Monday morning should have it. Many of the boys did well; but when it came Daniels time to recite, I found that he had committed so much (to memory) that after hearing him recite some sixty or seventy verses, I was obligated to give up, he telling me that there were several chapters yet that he had learned. Daniel got the jack-knife.”
I’m sorry, Separatist and those who disbelieve the Bible, and those who would restrict our 1st Amendment Right of Freedom of Religion and Speech, the Bible was the Primary textbook in the public school for a very long time in America. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence was strongly against the failure to use the Bible as the core textbook. In 1791, he published a work offering numerous reasons why the Bible MUST remain America’s premier school text. In part, he said, “In the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, we find the following words which are directly to my purpose: ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which I have command thee this day shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest down, and when thou risest up.” (vv.5-7) …The learning of the Jews for many years consisted in nothing but a knowledge of the Scriptures… But the benefits of an early and general acquaintance with the Bible was not confined to the Jewish nations: they have appeared in many countries in Europe since the Reformation. The industry and habits of order which distinguish many of the German nations are derived from their early instruction in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible. The moral and enlightened character of the inhabitants of Scotland and New England states appears to be derived from the same cause… [The Bible] should be read in our schools in preference to all other books.”
Before you argue that Nazi German makes a case against the Bible in public schools you might want to examine the texts at the time of Hitler’s rise to power. Many of our Founders and Framers argued that if we removed the Bible from public education we would be forced to deal with delinquency and criminality in a far greater measure. They have subsequently been proven correct. My education, in the public school, was during the 50’s and 60’s and although we still had prayer and recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, little was taught about the Bible or the religious and moral beliefs of our Founders and Framers. Christopher Columbus, much vilified today, believed that it was God who put in his mind to sail from Europe to the Indies and in doing so discovered America. The Pilgrim Fathers were staunchly religious and valued the Bible in education. One of the greatest preachers of any era, Jonathan Edwards along with George Whitefield believed in the value of the Bible in public education. Benjamin Franklin, some claim a Deist wrote in his autobiography, “I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that He made the world and governed it by His Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.” We dare not overlook the value the Father of our Nation, George Washington placed on the Bible and God’s Providence or influence in our nation and our lives. Nor must we omit the influence of Noah Webster in his insistence that “Education is useless without the Bible or God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”
With the rejection of God and the Bible in our public schools and the public arena, we have seen the rise in ideologies and actions such as abortion on demand, same-sex marriages, the devaluation of human life, the welfare and entitlement mentality, and our tarnished racial relations. I believe that one of the most anti-Bible presidents in modern history was the last one, Barack Obama. I believe that if we are to preserve the American Constitutional Republic we must return to valuing the Bible and recognizing God’s hand in our history and existence. I would expect some to vehemently disagree and kick me to the curb on various social media outlets and that is their right and choice. I respect everyone’s right to disagree, but I believe that history and my own experience with God validate the value of the Bible in public education. I can appreciate not wanting any particular sect, brand, or tribe of the Christian religion being taught as the only pathway, but I believe the moral and relational tenets of the Bible, especially the New Testament would be beneficial.
God bless you and God bless America!