Sundays With The Christianists: American History Textbooks For Young Neidermeyers
Hope you filthy hippies are ready to get a good talking-to about your drugs and your communism and your satanic rock music, because this week it's time to get a dose of revisionist history of the 1960s, courtesy of our textbooks for the Christian homeschooling market. Our 8th-grade text, America: Land I Love (A Beka, 1994, 2006), has no doubts about just what a terrible time the decade was, and why:
By the early 1960s, the teachings of humanist philosopher John Dewey, the father of progressive education, had permeated public education. Dewey was a leader in the secular humanist movement, which put man in place of or above God. Moral absolutes, such as those once taught in the McGuffey Readers, were replaced by humanistic ideas such as encouraging children to "follow their animal instincts" and to practice permissive "self expression" in the classroom...
As "progressive" educators removed godly values from the classroom, America’s youth became ripe for the spirit of rebellion that moved across the nation in the late 1960s, opening the door to drug abuse and sexual immorality. As discipline, dress codes, and moral standards relaxed in the public school systems, test scores continued to decline. Rock music began to influence American culture through such popular musicians as Elvis Presley.
In other words, this chapter of Land I Love is pretty much a grab bag of rightwing culture war complaints about the '60s. Our other text, Bob Jones University Press’s 11/12th-grade United States History for Christian Schools (2001), is slightly less panicked in tone -- as usual, it makes fewer sweeping claims about why everything went to hell -- but nonetheless titles its chapter on 1963-73 "The Shattered Society" and emphasizes that America just barely avoided utter dissolution in that decade.
U.S. History takes a fairly conventional take on the '60s, noting the social and political upheavals and sadly shaking its head in disappointment:
As he reviewed the dramatically widespread unrest in the United States, one California newspaper editor lamented, "We just seem to be headed toward a collapse of everything."
In the midst of apparent chaos, many Americans looked to their political leaders for guidance -- and deliverance. The presidents during this era were two of the shrewdest, most experienced politicians in America, Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson and Republican Richard M. Nixon. Yet both found that America’s problems defied their efforts to solve them.
Obviously, Land I Love is going to be a lot more fun this week.
The greatest disaster of the '60s, according to Land I Love, was America's public abandonment of God, as forced by the ACLU and just one very bad woman:
In 1962, the Supreme Court removed prayer from public schools, and in 1963, it banned Bible reading from the public schools. These decisions came about largely through the efforts ofMadalyn Murray O’Hair,an atheist and Communist who used her teenage son, William, to protest daily Bible reading and prayer in the public schools of Baltimore, Maryland. A liberal Supreme Court ruled that even voluntary Bible reading and prayer were unconstitutional because they "discriminated against" non-Christians.
Of course, this leaves out a couple of details, largely around how you define "voluntary" -- it's perfectly legal, of course, for kids to read the Bible and pray on their own time; the decisions only barred school-organized devotions that kids could "volunteer" to not participate in. For its part, U.S. History simply says that the 1962 Engel v. Vitale decision "banned state-sponsored prayers in public schools as a so-called violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of the separation of church and state"; while the Bob Jones editors clearly disagree, they don't bother personalizing the issue as the whim of one cranky atheist commie. Land I Love even devotes a full paragraph to O'Hair's son, William Murray, and his conversion to Christianity and 1980 "apology" to America
for his role in the removal of Bible reading and prayer from the public schools. He said that his mother had brainwashed him into accepting atheism and Communism, but after years of misery and despair, he had found faith in God. Now he prayed that God might somehow use his testimony to bring prayer back into the classroom.
God, sadly, has continued to slack off on fixing this for the past 34 years, probably because He has been busy helping with all those high school football games. In any case, those clearly illegal Supreme Court decisions were utterly at odds with the True Meaning of the Constitution:
The Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution had great respect for both prayer and God’s Word. It was because of our Christian heritage that most schools had included prayer and Bible reading in their daily routines for years. The Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution in a way that its writers would not have agreed with.
U.S. History doesn't attempt to claim that the Founders wanted prayer in schools, but includes the prayer decision as part of a larger discussion of "judicial activism," which is of course bad, since it expanded the rights of accused criminals and "defined 'obscenity' so narrowly that [Roth v. United States (1957)] actually struck down many obscenity laws." The textbook approvingly quotes Justice John Harlan's 1964 dissenting opinion that
The Constitution is not a panacea for every blot upon the public welfare, nor should this Court, ordained as a judicial body, be thought of as a general haven for reform movements ... This Court ... does not serve its high purpose, when it exceeds its authority even to satisfy justified impatience with the slow workings of the political process.
With a resigned sigh, the editors add, "Unfortunately, the majority of Harlan’s associates did not listen to him."
To emphasize that all these terrible changes were imposed upon a majority of Americans who didn't want them, Land I Love includes a paragraph explaining that, along with Madalyn Murray O'Hair, there was another bunch of troublemakers to blame:
Since the 1920s, a group of lawyers known as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had actively defended the extreme views of atheist, socialist, and Communist minorities. In the 1960s, the ACLU began to use the courts to force local communities to stop making references to Biblical values in public life. They claimed that the U.S. Constitution established a "wall of separation" between church and state. Later the ACLU would have bronze copies of the Ten Commandments removed from walls in schools, village halls, and county court houses, and some communities would be forced to ban public Christmas displays featuring the birth of Jesus. The ACLU would also later defend public displays of pornography as an expression of the First Amendment right to free speech.
Because lord knows, there's nothing in the Constitution about minorities having rights that the majority has to respect. We're sort of wondering about those "public displays of pornography," which seem to have fallen out of favor -- either that, or, more likely, the editors consider just about every PG-rated movie a public display of pornography.
Now, where are the hippies in all this? Ha-ha, we were joking you with that photo up there -- we'll get to the filthy hippies next time, because we have written our thousand words for this week, and suddenly we are run over by eleven long-haired friends of Jesus in a chartreuse microbus.
Next Week: The Great Society makes everybody addicted to Big Government. Also, hippies.