All Education is Religious

“All education is religious education. Place a child in an environment where God is never mentioned, and what will she conclude? Either God isn’t real, or he’s irrelevant. Either way, the conclusion is that he can safely be ignored.” 

Glen Oeland


I recently read an article written by a father to his daughter who recently graduated from a Christian school. About two-thirds through the article, the above quote came off the page like a rocket heading to outer-space. What I believe (and have believed) about education was put so succinctly here that I had to share it.

To say education is amoral is ridiculous. There’s no such thing as amoral education. There’s no such thing as secular education. The only type of education that exists is religious. Consider the implications of such an idea! Let’s say a student goes to a school where God is not openly ridiculed, and faith is relegated to the private lives of students. Let’s pretend this school, while not being hostile towards any faith, disallows any faith related activity on campus. What is implicitly taught by the school bell after bell, day after day, week after week, year after year?  Just what Glen said above, “Either God isn’t real, or he’s irrelevant. Either way, the conclusion is that he can safely be ignored.”

I will go one step further. Taken from James K.A. Smith’s work on habits, desire, and education, parents even if you say you are a family founded on Christ, your words will not be enough to combat what your kids actually do. If your children go to a school where God is ignored in activity all day, every day, do not expect your children to believe God is relevant on a daily basis. The rhythms and habits of life will do more to form and cultivate a humble, holy life than all the sermons and lectures of holiness and Christ-likeness. An amoral education (i.e., public education) ignores the importance of God on a daily basis. The process of ignoring God daily will subtly form your child’s soul! Are you comfortable with such formation?

Do not be fooled. Education is inherently religious.

What religious message is being caught in your child’s education? Notice the emphasis on caught, not taught. 

What are the habits being formed teaching your child?

Does the school day remind your students throughout the day the omnipresence of God, His infinite importance and sovereignty in all matters?

Can you child go throughout a day, even an hour without hearing and seeing people call out to God for help, wisdom, guidance, and grace?

These are important questions! Eternally important. Sometimes the greatest formation a child undergoes happens when nothing is being said. The folowing passage from Moses’ sermon in Deuteronomy has something to teach us about education. Notice Moses does include teaching (intellectual instruction) in education, but also actions, habits, locations, etc. Moses says,

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Talk about the Lord throughout the day. Be reminded continually the Lord’s importance in all matters. No matter where or when, talk about the Lord. But, do more than talk. Do something. Tie symbols on you hands. Bind the law on your foreheads. Habituate your self in the kingdom. Post words of truth on the buildings, houses, etc. where you frequently visit. Deluge your world with the truth of God’s presence.

Education that doesn’t do these things is not neutral! Education that doesn’t do these things is cultivating a religion of humanism. Christian parents, this is not what you want! Lord willing, you want to cultivate Christians who embody the words and actions of Christ. Find a school that seeks to cultivate the same.

Remember, education is inherently religious! In which religion is your child being instructed?


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