Are Public Schools “Churches of Atheism?”

Once again, I totally agree with radical creationist Ken Ham about something. Not that the earth was created only about 7,000 years ago. Not that a real worldwide flood wiped out everything except Noah’s Ark. But I agree with him 100% that public schools should not serve as churches of atheism. However, as I know, you know, and large majorities of Americans know, public schools aren’t churches of any sort. How can we tell? Americans LIKE their local schools. They don’t like church.ham tweet churches of atheism

Mr. Ham has not grasped that fact. He is fond of warning his followers that public schools are not community resources, controlled and paid for by the community based on democratic processes, but rather sinister institutions—“churches of atheism”—dedicated to stripping children of their faiths, to belittling any religious viewpoint, and to cramming sexual immorality down children’s throats.

gallup school a or b

People tend to give high grades to their children’s schools.

The problem is, that’s not what public schools do in real life. I know because I spend my days visiting public schools in my area. I don’t see the kinds of mind-control efforts Mr. Ham is so nervous about. I see hard-working teachers who help their students become the best versions of themselves.

It’s not just me. The most careful surveys of public-school science teaching don’t find huge majorities of teachers cramming atheism down students’ throats. As political scientists Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer found in their huge survey of high-school science teachers, the biggest determining factor for the way teachers teach is community sentiment. If the local community wants more mainstream science, teachers teach it. If they want it watered down with creationism, teachers tend to oblige.

Worst of all for Mr. Ham’s radical Chicken-Little-ism, most Americans understand that. Gallup pollsters have asked Americans what they think of their public schools. By and large, people LIKE the public-schools their kids attend. What don’t people like? Church.

gallup church attendance

Americans are voting against church–with their feet.

So if public schools were really “churches of atheism,” as Mr. Ham contends, you’d think more people would be dissatisfied. You’d think more people would stop going. That’s not what is happening. It’s good news for the rest of us, even if it is not good news for Ken Ham and his radical allies.

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4 Comments

  1. Ham is quite a looney. Good post. 🙂

    Reply
    • It comes from being an Aussie, and hanging upside down for most of his life. I don’t know why the US let him in. I guess money talks – even if most of it is lies. 🙄

      Reply
  2. If as Ham claims, public schools are churches of atheism- are their subjects or reading lists for atheism given in those schools?

    Reply
  3. There’s something I’ve become more aware of with the passing of years. Like many others, I could have become an intellectual. I’ve worked in many jobs, had a career, taught others, and researched a lot. But in my youth, when I attempted to be intellectual, it hurt my brain and caused confusion. I think that was a blessing. It kept me from immersing myself in books and learning. It kept me from being lost in my thinking, though I could, like many others, think circles around. But I don’t like it.
    Somewhere along the way, I saw that understanding is key. But you don’t have to work at understanding. Understanding is like a light. You see and you perceive, but don’t know how or why. Like “ah haaa” moments. Clarity. You know but you don’t know how you know. And you don’t have to prove because the understanding is self-evident.
    There are people very strong in their beliefs or thinking, but it’s all surface. They never, or rarely, ever examine their own thinking. They are right simply because they think they’re right. Cliques anyone? You can identify them, to some degree. It’s in the eyes. If I’m talking to someone, I’m looking for understanding. Is this person coming from a place of wonder, observation, and patiently waiting until understanding happens? Or is this person completely immersed in their own thinking, unable to take anyone questioning how they came to beliefs?
    School is a place to learn good curriculum material in preparation for adult lives, more so to work. For myself, I am looking to get kids to think for themselves. But it’s not thinking. It’s understanding. What do you think about this? Why? Then, I look to see if I see thinking or observation. Do I see reflection? Pondering? Do I see someone able to place a gap between themselves and what they’re considering? Or quick answers regurgitated from others. One thinks. The other understands. And is okay if they don’t know and says so.
    To feel safe, kids and teens should be able to believe whatever they believe, but remain respectful of the teachers and adults. That’s where trust happens.

    Reply

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