Students Telling the Good News is Hardly News

September 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Newsflash: Christians talk about their faith in school.

That’s the thrust of an article this week in The Guardian: How Evangelicals are Making Children their Missionaries in Public Schools. The subhead, “Adults can’t proselytise in schools – but kids can. Hence a new scam by fundamentalists to circumvent church-state separation.”

Katherine Stewart’s sleuthery uncovered the shocking truth that Christians encourage other Christians to evangelize. This “news” is no recent exposé, but came out around 30 A.D. at Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, where believers are called to “go and make disciples”. In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells His disciples, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria” —speaking of a local missions effort— “and to the ends of the earth.”—to meet the need for the Gospel in other parts of the world. For the past two mellennia, evangelical Christians have been heeding the call to be missionaries for the Gospel wherever they are and wherever the Lord leads them to go.

As one serving in youth ministry, I encourage young people to follow Scripture, to live out their faith at school, or at work, or wherever they happen to be; to be prepared to have an answer for those who may ask about the hope they have; to share the love of Christ with others because it is simply too good to keep to ourselves. This adult is guilty as charged.

Also not new is the presence of various religious clubs in public schools, which date back to the pre-colonial era. Albert Mohler, on his Sept. 27th podcast notes that “from the very beginning of the school systems in America, children have been able to speak to one another, prosthelytizing for various ideas or ideologies or worldviews or of course religious faiths as well.” He rightly points out that what would be required to make sure that school kids didn’t share their beliefs, or learn at home or at church from adults how to share their beliefs, is to repeal the right to free speech and liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution. Nothing particularly new there either.

Katherine’s article continues, speaking of Christian clubs and organizations in schools: “These initiatives are “student-led” in the same sense that a pee-wee soccer league is student-led. Yes, it’s the kids kicking the ball, but you have to be pretty detached from reality to imagine that there would be kids on that playing field in the first place without the grown-ups organizing and funding their activities, and cheering them from the sidelines.” 

What kind of success would you expect of a pee-wee soccer league run exclusively by pee-wee soccer players? The expectation that such initiatives exist without any involvement from parents or other supportive adults and their vision is indeed a detachment from reality. And again, nothing new, in any context.

The article concludes: “At their core, [evangelical Christians] do not accept that we live in a diverse society with a secular form of government. If their activities degrade support for the public schools or even destroy them, they will not be sorry to see them go.”

Actually, most Christians do understand that society is diverse in its beliefs and that administrations progressively have sought to secularize government as best they can. Many Christians also see that without the fundamentals taught in Christian theology, principals of government wouldn’t exist, and neither would the value in education (Education in America was largely founded upon Christianity). The framers of the Constitution understood this too, and that the protections afforded by “separation of church and state” were meant to go both directions, that legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The Guardian has finally caught on to evangelical Christianity’s ancient zeal to spread the Gospel. Sadly, it has missed the point.

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