R. L. Dabney Writes On Government Education circa 1873 … Is Proved Right in 2014

“Said Daniel Webster…‘In what age, by what sect, where, when, by whom, has religious truth been excluded from the education of youth? Nowhere never. Everywhere, and at all times, it has been and is regarded as essential. It is of the essence, the vitality of useful instruction’”

Robert L. Dabney (1820-1898)
“State Free Schools” and “Secularized Education” in Discussions Vol.4,
Ross House Books and Sprinkle Publications, 1979 [1897], pg. (219).

By now people well know my opposition to Government schools. Of course my opposition is only a reflection of my reading and observations. In what follows in this post I am combining my reading of Dabney with the observations of Bobbi Leigh Swagger, a person who is closely connected to Government schools and what goes on there. Knowing about Government schools is part of Bobbi Leigh’s vocation and career. Hopefully, the result of the combination of the abstract (my reading) with the concrete (real life accounts from Bobbi Leigh) will make a bigger impact on Christians to the end of getting their children out of Government schools if at all possible.

“We propose now…that tuition in Christianity is essential to all education which is worth the name…we mean in the fullest sense that Christianity must be a present element of all the training at all times, or else it is not true and valuable education…The human spirit is a monad, a single, unit, spiritual substance, having facilities and susceptibilities for different modifications, but no parts. Hence, when it is educated it is educated as a unit…it is impossible to separate the ethical and intellectual functions…knowledge is really valuable only as it is in order to right actions… The nature of responsibility is such that there can be no neutrality…‘He that is not with his God is against him.’ He who does not positively comply with the ever-present obligation does ipso facto violate it, and contract positive sinfulness. Hence as there cannot be in any soul a non-Christian state which is not anti-Christian, it follows that any training which attempts to be non-Christian is therefore anti-Christian. God is the rightful, supreme master and owner of all reasonable creatures, and their nearest and highest duties are to him. Hence to train a soul away from him is a robbery of God, which he cannot justify in any person or agency whatsoever” (220,221).

Robert L. Dabney (1820-1898)
“State Free Schools” and “Secularized Education” in Discussions Vol.4,
Ross House Books and Sprinkle Publications, 1979 [1897], pg. (220, 221).

“There can be, therefore, no true education without moral culture, and no true moral culture without Christianity” (222). R. L. Dabney

1. Just found out that a school in one of the former Cotton States just took down the walls of the bathroom stalls in the school because the kids were fornicating in the bathrooms. Oh, by the way this was a Middle School.

Bobbi Leigh Swagger

(I’m still working on understanding how it is that a child who would fornicate in a bathroom stall would suddenly find some scruples and modesty about fornicating without a stall.)

“Education is the nurture and development of the whole man for his proper end. The end must be conceived aright in order to understand the process” (230).

Is “a really secularized education either possible or admissible?…No people of any age, religion, or civilization, before ours, has ever thought so…Pagan, Papist, Mohammedan, Greek, Protestant, have all hitherto rejected any other education than one grounded in religion, as absurd and wicked” (230,231).

R. L. Dabney

“In one school district in which I operate they recently sent kids home with a test that said:

True or False: Christopher Columbus came to America and boiled the natives alive to make soap.”

Bobbi Leigh Swagger

“True education is, in a sense, a spiritual process, the nurture of a soul…Every line of true knowledge must find its completeness in its convergency to God, even as every beam of daylight leads the eye to the sun. If religion be excluded from our study, every process of thought will be arrested before it reaches its proper goal…[What if an unbeliever claims to be merely] teaching some purely secular course, without any such maiming of his subjects or prejudicing of Christianity? If his teaching is more than a temporary dealing with some corner of education, the fact will be found to be that it is tacitly anti-Christian; overt assaults are not made; but there is a studied avoidance which is in effect hostile. There can be no neutral position between two extremes, where there is no middle ground, but ‘a great gulf fixed’…The training which does not base duty on Christianity is, for us, practically immoral.”

R. L. Dabney (232-236)

In the Lone Star state I recently spoke with a parent who told me that her 9th grade daughter came home on Friday telling her mom that the teacher told them that Pocahontas married John Smith.

The child brought her own book about Pocahontas back to the school on Monday to show her that only in a Disney movie did Pocahontas fall in love with John Smith. The teacher said,

“I asked around, and none of the history teachers here agree with your version. They all think she married John Smith, so you must be wrong.”

Bobbi Leigh Swagger

The Christian creed of responsibility: “According to this, obligation to God covers all of every man’s being and actions. Even if the act be correct in outward form, which is done without any reference to his will, he will judge it a shortcoming. ‘The plowing of the wicked, is sin’ [Prov.21:4]…Our Savior has declared that there is no moral neutrality… The comparison of these truths will make it perfectly plain that a non-Christian training is literally an anti-Christian training” (238).

R. L. Dabney

In Connecticut I interviewed a Mother who told me her child was being summoned to the Dr. today for a psychological evaluation because her son had been cutting himself in 5th grade, stressed out over their new standardized tests.

Bobbi Leigh Swagger

(By the way folks … 5th grade means we are talking about a 9 or 10 year old.)

The “direction of the education of children…[is] properly a domestic and parental function…[God] looks to parents, in whom the family is founded, as the responsible agents of this result…He has also in the fifth Commandment connected the child proximately…with the parents, which, of course, confers on them the adequate and the prior authority…It thus appears that naturally the parent’s authority over their children could not have come by deputation from either State or visible Church…[But] the dispensation of Divine Providence in the course of nature shows where the power and duty of educating are deposited…No parent can fail to resent, with a righteous indignation, the intrusion of any authority between his conscience and convictions and the soul of his child. If the father conscientiously believes that his own creed is true and righteous and obligatory before God, then he must intuitively regard the intrusion of any other power between him and his minor child, to cause the rejection of that creed, as a usurpation…If this usurpation is made by the visible church, it is felt to be in the direction of popery, if by the magistrate, in the direction of despotism” (243,244).

R. L. Dabney

What “Protestant concedes therefrom that his religious rights were either conferred, or can be rightfully taken away, by civil authority?…The State or Church has no more right to invade the parental sphere than the parent to invade theirs…Did our republican fathers hold that any people have ever the right to subvert the moral order of society ordained by God?…So far is it from being true that the civil authority is entitled to shape a people to suit itself; the opposite is true, the people should shape the civil authority.” (245,246).

R. L. Dabney

In another case in the nutmeg state a Mom pulled child out after she showed up at the child’s school to get the child for a doctor’s appt…she had a doctor’s note/summons in her hand and they wouldn’t let her have her kid. Period.

Bobbie Leigh Swagger

Concluding with Dabney,

The State has no right to oppose the theological beliefs of Christians, but they do oppose these beliefs when they educate souls as they do, “because a non-Christian training is an anti-Christian training” (238).

“Since all truths converge towards God, he who is not to name God…can only construct a truncated figure…And no person nor organism has a right to seem to say to a responsible, immortal soul, ‘In this large and intelligent and even ethical segment of your doings you are entitled to be godless’” (239,240).

“In fact the Church does not and cannot repair the mischief which her more powerful, rich, and ubiquitous rival, the secularized State, is doing in thus giving, under the guise of a non-Christian, an anti-Christian training” (241).

Closing observations

1.) Keep in mind that R2K insists that there is no such thing as Christian Education.

2.) Obviously, not all Government schooled children will all have equally bad horror stories about their time in Government schools. Some accounts will be less bad than other accounts but all will be bad. Even in my own time we were taught the occult and given death studies. We also did the whole communist re-education thing in writing biographies.

3.) Even if Government schooled children have a comparative “good” schooling experience nothing can take away the fact that your children are being educated into a Worldview where God is hated and is seen as irrelevant.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Kinist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture . Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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