Post-Graduate Homeschooling

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

One of the signs of the increasing popularity of homeschooling is the growing number of Americans who avail themselves of it after graduation. It’s also a sign of the endemic failures of public education today.

“Look at the best sellers today,” bestselling author David Barton said in an interview with the July 2010 AFA Journal. “They are things like David McCullough’s book John Adams.”

“Americans are willing to pay money to learn what they were supposed to learn in school. All the information in that book used to be in the textbooks.”

One of Barton’s own histories is currently in the Amazon top 20, a list he is no stranger to. A key element missing in most texts, Barton alleges, is the role of religion in America’s founding.

“For instance, out of the 56 signers of the Declaration, textbooks will only mention Jefferson and Franklin,” Barton observes. “They will point out the least religious and say all the Founding Fathers were like those two.”

“That’s the exception, not the rule.” Yet, even here, the authors and publishers of history texts fail their own rule of thumb, Barton indicates.

“Jefferson, when you go by his actions, was absolutely pro-Christian his entire life,” Barton argues. “He started church services at the U.S. Capitol in 1800.”

“By 1857, the largest church in the U.S. was the one he helped start. He also started church services in the War Department and the Treasury Department on Sundays.”

From what Barton unearthed, Jefferson’s putative admirers even misread the master of Monticello’s single reference to “separation of church and state” wrong. “When we bought the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, there were several Christian schools in New Orleans,” Barton relates. “Many of them wrote the president asking if they would have to shut down since they now belonged to America.”

“Jefferson wrote them back saying no, they would still get the patronage of the government to help run their Christian schools.” America’s third president had a voluminous record of support for religion.

“He was one of the founders of the Virginia Bible Society, he made sure the University of Virginia had a huge collection of Christian literature,” Barton states. “He also invited several denominations to establish seminaries on the University of Virginia campus.”

“When he signed presidential documents, he signed them, ‘In the year of our Lord Christ,’ unlike the way the Constitution did, which was, ‘In the year of our Lord.’” Barton, as his comments suggest, has made a substantial study of Jefferson’s life and work.

“He questioned whether Jesus was the Son of God in 6 out of 19,000 letters,” Barton allows. “So we really don’t know what his final belief system was, but we do know he was never hostile to Christianity.”

Even the more freewheeling Ben Franklin gets mischaracterized by instructional texts. “Franklin is the one who called for daily prayer at the convention because he said God answered their prayers and they saw it during the revolution,” Barton points out.

He advises readers and students to search out older histories to get a better sense of what happened at the Founding of America. “Alice Baldwin, history professor and dean at Duke University in the 1950s, came out with a phenomenal book called New England Clergy in the American Revolution,” Baldwin says. “She read through hundreds of public sermons preached in government.”

“Every year leading up to the Declaration, state governments started with a sermon from a minister preaching about what God wants in government.”

“Baldwin discovered all the rights found in the Declaration had been preached in American pulpits prior to 1767. What that means is that the Declaration is nothing more than a listing of what Americans had been hearing in sermons leading up to the Revolution.”

The AFA Journal, in which Barton made his comments, is published by the American Family Association.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.