Did you know that in 1647, early American settlers passed the “Old Satan Deluder Act” to encourage children’s education so they could learn to read the Bible?
According to Christian educator Tim Hoy, “One of the earliest education laws in our country was passed by the early settlers in 1647, called the ‘Old Satan Deluder Act.’ The settlers came to America to escape religious and political persecution in Europe. They believed that the persecutions (acts carried out under Satan’s delusion) were allowed to take place because of the populace’s illiteracy in general and biblical illiteracy in particular. To combat a possible repeat of history in the new land, the settlers mandated that communities with at least 50 families must sponsor a teacher; they must establish a grammar school when the population reached 100 families. The purpose of the school was to teach the children to read, particularly to read and understand the Bible.”
Not only so, but, “The 1690 Connecticut Illiteracy Law was passed with the same motive in mind: in order to equip the citizenry for ‘reading the Holy Word of God and the good laws of this (State).’”
But when Focus on the Family sponsored a national “Bring Your Bible to School Day” on October 8, the idea was met with concern in some school districts. The Bible, brought to our schools? How could this be?
It’s no problem to advocate every kind of godless philosophy in these same classrooms.
It’s no problem to teach every kind of profane sex-ed curriculum to these same students.
It’s no problem to exalt Islam and other world religions (but not Christianity) in their religion textbooks.
It’s no problem to distribute condoms, to advertise Planned Parenthood, and to promote homosexuality in these same hallways.
But to bring the Bible to school and talk about it?
As reported on the Sacramento Bee website, the real rub was that parents in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District were upset that the district “would send information to their inboxes publicizing ‘bring your Bible to school day.’,” even though the email “included a disclaimer that said the school district was not a sponsor of the program.”
Indeed, “some parents were furious that the district had allowed a religious entity to promote itself via the district email system,” with one parent claiming that, “It’s unbelievable the district is supporting something that blurs the line between public education and religion.”
But according to Daniel Thigpen, spokesman for the district, “the district has a policy that allows the distribution of some fliers by email from organizations that want to publicize activities for students and families.”
Why all the uproar over this particular event?
One vocal protester, Ashley Slovak (a Jewish woman married to a Christian), kept her daughter home that day, saying that school “should be a safe place. She would feel ostracized. She would feel like an outsider among her peers.”
But how do committed Christian kids feel every day in school districts across America when their views are ridiculed, when they are called bigots and haters because they cannot endorse the latest PC trend, when carrying a Bible with them is considered a sign of fanaticism?
Young people – and I mean pre-teens – have said to me (with tears), “We are under so much pressure at school!”
A 15-year-old tweeted me and said, “Thank u for helping me walk through the valley of the shadow of death with your wisdom and teachings! . . . There aren't many of my generation who agree with our beliefs so it's a mental battle everyday at my school. U help!”
No wonder it has become so controversial for a school district to announce a “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” The Word of God has become toxic to our children’s “education.”
It was the exact opposite in the beginning.
As Hoy notes, “Shortly after establishment of our country, the founding fathers passed a federal law that required all existing and incoming states to establish schools that will teach ‘religion, morality, and knowledge.’ Many of the founding fathers advocated that the Bible be the primary text in these schools.”
Hoy explains, “As our country continued to grow, so did our schools. The American school system was the best in the world, and the Bible was central to its curriculum. In the early 1840s, an attempt was made in Philadelphia to establish a school that would be free of the Bible and any Christian influence. A legal battle ensued that would reach the highest court in the land.”
What was the result of this legal battle? “In a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court upheld the centrality of the Bible in US schools,” penning these remarkable words:
“Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a Divine revelation in the (school)—its general precepts expounded…and its glorious principles of morality inculcated?...Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Where are benevolence, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, so powerfully and irresistibly inculcated as in the Sacred Volume?” (US Supreme Court, Vidal vs. Girard’s Executor, 1844)
Today, instead of the Bible being read or taught in our schools, our young people are addicted to cell phones, not just texting mindlessly through the day but sharing the most vile gossip, the most hateful (and even murderous expressions), and engaging in sexting (sharing naked pictures of each other) as early as Middle School.
Yet the same parents who let their kids run wild on social media and the internet are concerned about Bibles being brought to school.
May God have mercy on America, and may Christian kids be encouraged to bring their Bibles to school every day, to talk about the Word and pray with one another, and to be bold and unashamed witnesses for Jesus.
This is just what our schools need most.