Public School, the Bible & Christians: Are We at Fault for Society’s Decline?

I have dreaded publishing this post, and I have prayed heavily over it, begging the Lord to use it to challenge and move hearts.

Public school is perhaps, the most sacred cow of our society making it one of the most volatile to discuss. Know I’m writing in earnest, heart-torn love. Yet I believe one of the major reasons we have seen such a decline in the church and therefore in society is our allowing the state to educate our children. I believe the Bible instructs us otherwise.

Does the Bible tell Christians how to educate?

The conversation of Christians letting the state educate their children is one I wish we didn’t have to have, and one I’m convinced would not have been needed during Bible times.

Here’s why:

God’s people understood clearly, from Scripture, that they were commanded and obligated to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to teach them diligently, the commands of God. In New Testament culture, the Roman Empire believed all people should maintain their own traditions and philosophies, so people were free to choose the education they felt best for their children. It was a given, then, that God’s people would make sure their children had an education centered around God’s Word.

Consider this, not from a homeschooling resource, but from a study Bible dictionary:

“The primary purpose of education among the Jews was the learning of and obedience to the law of God, the Torah.

The home was considered the first and most effective agency in the education process, and parents were considered the first and most effective teachers of their children. This responsibility is expressed in Genesis 18:19 where God states his expectation that Abraham will train his children and his household to walk in the ways of the Lord. Proverbs 22:6 is another familiar exhortation for parents to teach their children according to the way of the Lord.” –Holman Bible Dictionary,

There were other educational options in Bible times, but if you were a Jew (one of God’s chosen people), it would have been unheard of to send your children to be educated in the pagan temples. Their learning was centered around the Torah, and children were so steeped in Scripture it would put most of us to shame.

I believe we are bound to have the same understanding of our responsibility to educate our children in the ways of the Lord. The command is just as much for us and it was for them, if we are God’s people. We also have options but though we are free, we have abdicated our role of educating over to a system of philosophies and traditions–another religion–that is not congruent with what we claim to believe.

Is secular education “another religion”?

Perhaps here is where the breakdown is:

That most Christian parents don’t think secular education is “religious” in nature, so they don’t feel like they are allowing their children to be indoctrinated by another religion, and they can therefore teach them their own beliefs in the time around school hours.

“…parents are bound to employ no instructors who will not instruct their children religiously. To commit our children to the care of irreligious people is to commit lambs to the superintendency of wolves.” Timothy Dwight, President of Yale University

This is a devastating myth: the system of education established by the government in this country (and others) is most definitely a different and hostile religion from Christianity.

Charles Potter, founder of The First Humanist Society wrote:

“Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American school is a school of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday school’s meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of the five-day program of humanistic teaching?”

I also think we have forgotten what an education really is: not merely passing on facts (and even that, done apart from the knowledge of God, is a faulty education) but also that it is the passing on of our most deeply held convictions.

We have witnessed, over the the last decade and especially over the last year, an ongoing disintegration of Christian values, perpetuated by a government that is hostile to Christianity, a government we don’t even trust with our money. But few will connect the dots and be willing to come to terms with the inconsistency of handing our children to the same government for most of their day, to be mentored, counseled and taught about the world, though we know it hates God.

(This fact disregards the wonderful teachers in our public school system who still must teach what they are instructed (a curriculum that denies God), and whose hands are tied and mouths are gagged where Christianity is concerned.)

Does the Bible forbid public school?

Many say, “The Bible doesn’t forbid us to send our children to public school.” I would challenge that idea. Where the Bible can’t speak about a specific thing (public school) because the words didn’t exist, we must see what principles are given to us to guide our decisions. (“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16,17)

Where God’s Word says, “Turn right” we cannot obediently turn left. Scripture most definitely speaks to education.

What does Scripture say?

Following are just a few principles we must consider, from Scripture, as we search our hearts for truth and beg the Lord for clarity of heart about this desperately important issue of educating our children.

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8

In a secular school system, are our children being taught the traditions of men (humanism) according to the world, which blatantly disregards God or the Scriptures as a foundation for learning, or the truth, according to Christ? Does “the fear of the Lord” permeate their educational paradigm, which Scripture says is the beginning of knowledge?

“He who is not with me is against Me.” Luke 11:23

Does the public school system stand with Christ and therefore make it possible for us to stand with them by entrusting our children to them?

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Are the classrooms filled with those who are wise, from where our children can learn to walk in wisdom? Are all their mentors walking in wisdom as well?

“He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.” Psalm 78:5-8

Are we being faithful to use every resource of time and energy we have to bring up the next generation to know and follow His commandments? With so many forces working against us (our enemies are not flesh and blood, but principalities of the darkness) can we afford to allow our children to be given a secular education that denies God, teaches what flies in the face of holiness, directs them to look to man for all their answers, and leads them in the paths that are not righteous? (Not to mention an ever-aggressive agenda to eradicate God’s order of sexualty and make what is perverted normal to a new generation. Contains some graphic content.)

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:21

And how much more woe if we let those very ones have our children to train, teach and mold?

This post provides only one aspect of the negative effects of public school, but all other arguments aside, we must reckon with what we’ve been given through Scripture to guide our choices about how to raise and educate our children.

It is my prayer that churches would rally around families, encouraging them to pursue a Christian education, and even establishing affordable schools to make it possible for everyone.

I beg you to consider that everything (financial comfort, time, energy, work) is worth the sacrifice of seeing that your children are educated in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. God has not given us children without equipping us for every good work, including one of our most important responsibilities: their education.

“Faithful is He who calls you, Who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Want to read more?

I encourage you to pray, seek and read more about this subject if you are not convinced.

Bruce Shortt has produced a devastating indictment of our public school system, which he believes is not only destroying the intelligence of our children, but is wreaking havoc with our moral and spiritual future.  The book is a veritable encyclopedia of educational failure, corruption, and malfeasance by those who run the system.” -Samuel Blumenfel

33 Responses to “Public School, the Bible & Christians: Are We at Fault for Society’s Decline?”

  1. Meredith says:

    Amen Kelly! We are without excuse now. Public schools sing a Siren song that has fooled parents into complacency about what’s going on behind those doors. And yes, I know…there are “good” schools with “good, Christian teachers” out there. Let me tell you what I discovered recently: I’m Facebook friends with a large number of teachers because that is what I went to college to be (some good friends, some acquaintances). They all teach in public schools, ranging from very large to very small, in big cities and in tiny little towns. After the recent SCOTUS decision concerning gay marriage, about half the teachers I know commented on the situation on FB. Of that half, every one of them would say they are Christian and teach in public schools because they feel “called” to do so. Guess how many of those Christian teachers expressed support of the SCOTUS ruling? Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Now, I don’t doubt that there are teachers out there who uphold the Biblical definition of marriage, but it seems as though they would be in the minority even among fellow Christian teachers. Be careful of feeling secure over the fact that your child has a Christian teacher in the public school classroom, because that does not necessarily mean that he or she holds the same biblical values as you.

    • Meredith,

      Wow, that is shocking to me that half would support it. Well maybe not shocking, but certainly disheartening.

      • Meredith says:

        It surprised me too. I know most of these women fairly well (or so I thought!); they are regular church goers, and I even grew up going to the same Christian summer camp as one of them. But I feel it’s not just the children being swayed by the secularist mindset in public school…some teachers are too, including my Christian mother. She’s taught for 25 years and her views have taken a decidedly liberal turn in the last few years, to the point where, sadly, there are topics I cannot talk with her about anymore.

  2. I read the article by Voddie Baucham earlier and was surprised to realize that the church opposed government run schools for 50 years before caving in. The church has done the same thing with birth control, divorce, modesty standards, etc. We are a LUKEWARM church. Here is an article written by a public high school teacher warning parents to flee the public school system:

  3. Claudia says:

    I agree, Kelly, public school is the most sacred cow!! So wise to put earnest prayer into this post, but love compels you to write. Also love that you immediately follow up with “How to Homeschool When You Think You Can’t.” I pray it will help some who are struggling with the decision. TO THE MOM WHO WANTS TO HOMESCHOOL but cannot because her husband doesn’t agree (I was once that mom): Keep praying, keep loving and supporting your husband. Don’t let the enemy use this area to drive a wedge between you and your husband and steal your joy! Do what you can when you can to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Talk to them about what happens at school. The more they know God’s Word, the more they recognize fallacies. And keep praying!

  4. Heidi says:

    I have always home educated our children and I am blessed to have a supporting u
    Husband with this. I would encourage everyone on “the fence” to study scripture and watch the documentary ” indoctriNATION”.
    On a lighter note, I am hoping to hear Mr Baucham speak on this next month !

  5. Angela says:

    I had the opportunity to attend my niece and nephew’s elementary graduation this year. I was shocked at the party- like atmosphere (loud, pulsating music, even with very mature lyrics). However, I had chills when the principal gave her address, and included warnings to the children about social “karma”. Education has never been neutral, and never will be. Thank you for speaking out and yes, you will receive backlash from speaking negatively of the system.

  6. Covenant Christian children need a Christian education. We need to be diligent in training our children in a consistent Biblical worldview, not bathing them in the empty pagan philosophies of the world.

  7. 6 arrows says:

    The RT link was disturbing. And how ironic that the Chicago Public Schools has the same acronym as Child Protective Services. Someone should call the CPS on the CPS.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Thanks you!

  9. Sasha says:

    Thank you for writing this! Excellent article!

  10. Katy says:

    I couldn’t agree more Kelly! This is exactly what I have been declaring from the rooftops…but I have to be very, very careful saying much. I have friends and loved ones who teach at public schools and who believe in the system (and are putting their children through it). It absolutely baffles (and deeply saddens) me how people will see how society is going and still allow their children to be taught in a secular school! 🙁

  11. lauraashley says:

    There are more options than ever for schooling, which is grear. Sadly for single parent homes public school remains the only workable option. Usually the cheapest private school is the same as public schools.

    • Martha says:

      As a single, homeschooling mother I would like to encourage you to thoroughly look at all your options. I know how difficult it can be to provide for your family financially while also providing their education. There are many things my children do not have: cell phones, new clothes, name brands, the coolest toys and gadgets, but I know the education they are receiving and have had the privilege to see some of the fruits of my labor. It has been worth everything that I have sacrificed and I would be willing to give up even more in order to continue.

      • Claudia says:

        Praise the Lord for your decision to home educate your children as a single mother! I pray the Lord will continue to bless your sacrifice. You are an encouragement to me! Thank you, Martha!

  12. Lisa says:

    Thank-you for this post. I’ll be sharing it with my fb Christian homeschool group!

  13. Amy F says:

    I think we are at fault in a way. We have allowed things to change and not for the better. We need to stand up and take our country back to what it stood on…. GOD…..

  14. Shelly says:

    I wish I had the courage to email this to my church family. We have about 500 people who regularly attend our church, and we are one of only three families who homeschool- and one of the families that does homeschool is sending one of their kids to public school this year. We do have a few families who send their children to Christian schools, but by and large everyone else- including our pastors- sends their children to public school without batting an eye. And, like you, the “our children will be the salt and light of the schools” explanation is overused at our church as well.

  15. What scares me is that these same “Christian teachers” are the ones teaching Sunday school and leading other groups outside school. What view do you think they hold when they are before your children in church? My kids sit with me in church where I hear what they hear and can course correct if necessary.
    I signed up my kids to participate in an art camp this summer and at the last minute had to cancel their participation. They were going to learn about some very pagan and grotesque artists. Why do I need such ugliness before my children’s eyes? A parent needs to be vigilant at all times. The parents that send their children to school have already given up their job as such. What saddens me the most are the ones that have homeschooled and then think it’s ok to send their loved ones to the public arena. Some had sold their souls for a college scholarship. They believe it’s the only way to get the kids to college without a huge expense. So they teach the kids up to high school and then send them to be eaten by the beasts. :/

  16. D. says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your article about the importance of parents being the ones to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord and as Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly….” Clearly this cannot happen when children spend most of their day away from home, in an environment that not only assumes their is no God, but proceeds to tear down what truths the child may have learned within their home.

    My question is in regards to the studies of Jewish boys (and even girls). According to one article I read (if it is historically accurate) the boys did not learn at home, but attended the synagogue for classes with a rabbi, at a very young age. It is true that the Rabbi was teaching them from the Torah and they were expected to memorize large portions. Still, I wonder how this would look today (as we advocate for home schooling) in light of the Jewish education being in part away from the home?

    Christian school is obviously WAY better than public school, but it still does not cover the main direction that the parents should be raising their children in the instruction of the Lord. And then… what age is it then appropriate to send our children “away” from the home into another Biblically sound environment?

    Thank you.

    • D,

      Yes, it seems there were synagogues where children could be sent to learn the law. One source I read said they attended a half day, for 5 years, and were under instruction from their parents at home for the remainder. One even suggested parents attended some of the lessons (perhaps because the written Word was not available to the common people). There also appears to be examples in the Bible of whole families listening to the teaching of Jesus in various places, so the whole picture of how/when/where is unclear.

      Christian schools are options for Christians, but I think our schools look vastly different from the ones in Bible times, especially in time spent there and emphasis on peer relations. Each family has to decide that as there are many factors involved besides just age.

  17. Erika Shupe says:

    Hi Kelly!
    I’m so glad you received God’s courage to post on this topic. It’s so important…although a topic that stirs up so much trouble among believers. =/ I’ve had the Lord ask me to post on several such topics, but we are called to speak truth, hm? *hugs*

    May I add my post to yours as well, with an in depth look at *why* we are called to homeschool and with tons of scripture (mostly taken from Voddie Baucham’s research/teaching) referencing God’s mandates on this subject?

  18. Kelly L says:

    I love how you have stayed strong in the Lord and in His Calling for you. Such an encouragement.

  19. Maureen Perri says:

    Thank you for both your boldness and for such a well written post. I totally agree with what you have shared. My husband and myself are seriously considering homeschooling our children now that we have recently moved. My heart really cries out for the children in the public schools. On that note, I would like to encourage parents who feel like they are not in a position to homeschool to make sure they stay connected with what their children are being taught and to combat it from a biblical perspective. For example, most schools teach the theory of evolution as factual science. I have created books and programs for my children which provide them with strong biblical and scientific reasons why this teaching is not plausible or healthy. Several of my children have also been able to witness to teachers and other students using what they have been taught. In other words, we taught them to take the Gospel to the marketplace. I am praying that every Christian has the joy of teaching their own children, but for those who do not please position your children to be a light in extreme darkness. God bless all of you.

  20. Rachel says:

    There are good, faithful Christian teachers within the public schools but they are few and far between. My mom is one of these and she 100% supports my husband and me as we homeschool her grandchildren, and she wishes she had had the knowledge and support to homeschool my brother and me back in the 80s and 90s. She has encouraged parents of her students to homeschool if they ask her about it. She’s great!

    Not only that, but if one of her students asks her about Jesus she witnesses to them – and this has happened many times over the years! She has a Bible on her desk. I guess she could probably get in trouble for all that but she has no fear of it!

    However, even with a great teacher kids can’t be sheltered from the other students. I won’t even begin to say what she has overheard from her first graders, the inappropriate things they see/hear at home and bring to school and talk about with each other… It’s crazy and so sad.

    For us, sending our kids to public school just isn’t worth the risk. Even after my husband and I both had fairly decent public school experiences, we committed to homeschooling when our oldest (now 10) was a toddler. We do it for all the benefits of tailoring their education to fit them, but also to avoid the ever-increasing amount of pitfalls of public schools.

    I wish I could share this article on Facebook… it would offend so many, though, and I’m not sure it would be taken in the spirit of love and concern in which I would be sharing it.

    • Rachel,

      It’s encouraging that your Mom shares a love of homeschooling and supports you, and that she sees the negative aspects of the very place she works. Not all teachers are willing to admit that.

  21. Ruth says:

    I have three children aged 11, 9 and 7. They all attend a nearby Christian school. Recently though I’ve met a few families who homeschool their children and I’m starting to think maybe this is what our family should be doing as well. I always thought I wasn’t academic enough to be able to teach my own children but after speaking with different people I’m thinking maybe I could actually do it. My 9 year old struggles a lot at school and I think homeschooling would be great for her. Although my 11 year old loves school. Do you think the adjustment from being at school will be to hard for her now that she’s already been at school for 6 years? Have I left it to late to make the change? Do you know of anyone else who started homeschooling when their children were older?

    • 6 arrows says:


      I know a family who started homeschooling when their oldest was either going into fifth grade or had just finished fifth grade, can’t recall which. So their daughter would have been around age 10 or 11 at the time. Due to circumstances of which I’m not entirely aware, they did put the children back in school about 5 or 6 years later, but most of those years of homeschooling were beneficial on a number of levels, to my knowledge.

      I don’t think it’s ever to late to make a change from traditional school to homeschool. There will be some adjustment to be made, of course, but not too hard, in my experience, although my firstborn was younger than 11 when we started homeschooling (he was 7 and had finished second grade in Christian school).

      There wasn’t a lot of adjusting that was needed for our family. I did adopt more of a structured approach to our first year of homeschooling, similar to how a classroom would be run, as a sort of transition year for my oldest. By the second year of homeschooling, we settled into a much more relaxed routine that was more lifestyle-of-learning oriented, an approach we’ve mostly stayed with for all of our children now in the 17 years we’ve been homeschooling.

      Blessings to you, Ruth, as you seek the Lord for what He would have you do, and how, in this area.

    • Ruth,

      She may or may not have trouble, initially, with the change, but I think it’s well worth whatever bumpy transition (or not) you may face. And she may absolutely love it right off the bat.

      I’ve known quite a few families that started homeschooling midstream, and most have adjusted very well. There are so many options and so much flexibility, it’s hard to see how any child would not come to love it.

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