Saturday, August 14, 2010

Equipping Children With Spiritual and Political Armor

As my friends' kids leave the nest for their first year away at college, I think of the monolithic ideas with which they will surely be bombarded in an environment that is supposed to expose them to a variety of ideas. Are they prepared to resist the seductive but destructive message?

Liberal elites have dominated most university faculties for years, but it seems they've become bolder, more radical and more militant. It is not their ideas I fear, because Christianity and conservatism stand up to truth challenges. It is the moral preening, the politicization of academics, the peer pressure, the revisionist distortions and the potential discrimination against dissenters.

You know the drill. The professorate will aggressively beat into your children's heads that America is not the greatest nation in history, but largely responsible, through action or inaction, for much of the suffering in the world and that it is imperialistic, exploitive and selfish. They'll say that Christianity is narrow, intolerant, anti-intellectual, anti-science, homophobic, hateful and judgmental and that capitalism is corrupt and skewed toward the "rich" and big corporations. They'll say or imply that political conservatism is inherently racist, homophobic, sexist, militaristic, unenlightened, close-minded, mean-spirited and uncompassionate.

As parents, are you aware that the above scenario is likely to play out to some extent at most universities? Do you disagree or think it's not a big deal? Do you believe your kids are immune from this inevitable onslaught? Are you confident that even if they are exposed to such slander, they will reject it as inconsistent with their own personal experiences?

Are you sure, for example, that your kids have the discernment to recognize the disinformation that Christianity and conservatism are hardhearted, selfish, hateful, bigoted and intellectually backward and the strength to oppose it? Apart from your kids' presumed respect for you, do they have the intellectual ammunition and the spiritual armor to resist the pressure to conform?

Parents who find themselves in this position must not be complacent, assuming naively that they've done all they can do and that their kids have picked up, by osmosis or example, a proper and sustaining worldview orientation. Though they have been exposed to a culture war since they first started watching TV and going to movies, they are about to enter a new, intensified phase of it.

Christian parents should not assume their kids are equipped to filter out the false claims they will likely encounter. Christianity is the opposite of how it is often portrayed in our culture and is none of those negative things indicated above. You owe it to yourselves and your kids to anticipate the attacks and think through how they can be countered. Don't assume your excellent child rearing will be enough. We must stand up to the challenge and test our own faith, if necessary, reviewing what and why we believe. If we can't explain it, should we expect our kids to understand it?

Please don't dismiss these warnings as my opportunistic construction of a straw man. As my friend Frank Turek warns, "Christian young people are leaving the church at an alarming rate, mainly because they are not equipped to examine the skepticism and atheism they encounter, often coming from their college professors, after leaving home." So do your homework and help arm your kids. Or consult other sources for help, such as Frank's website,, which has information on how you can help teach or reinforce in your kids why Christianity is true and reasonable -- and loving.

Likewise, as politically conservative parents, you should help insulate your kids from the propaganda coming their way. You might want to first remind them that a strong majority of Americans are center-right and reject most of the ideas being forced on us by the vocal, strident and extreme leftist minority in this country. Next, of course, you need to address the specific libels hurled at conservatives and substantively respond to and refute the claims that they are bigoted, selfish and unreasonable.

If you have time to address little else, at least strive to explain to your kids in a thoughtful way why conservatism is not only not uncompassionate but also more compassionate, open-minded, tolerant, science-compatible and consistent with our human experiences than liberalism. You must do what you can to help prevent your kids from being shamed into liberalism through its false claim of having a monopoly on compassion.

Parents, are you prepared? Are your kids? Can we agree we have some work to do?


American teachers should revolt

A little over a year ago, I wrote a column suggesting that due to the blatant hostility the National Education Association was expressing towards Christians, it was time for Christian teachers to withdraw their membership from the NEA. As it turns out, the focus of my call to abandon this radically left lobby group was a bit too narrow. As evidenced by its own website, the NEA is not merely anti-Christian, they are anti-American as well.

How else can you explain the plan that appeared on the NEA's "Diversity Calendar" instructing teachers to make October 1st a special recognition of the Communist revolution in China? The NEA recommended teachers celebrate how the world's most notorious butcher, Chairman Mao Zedong, proclaimed the "Chinese people have stood up," as he established the regime that would slaughter more innocent human beings than any other in world history. [Editor's note: The NEA has since removed the October 1 event from their website, following a rapid spread of the news about it.]

As incredible as it may seem, such a proposal is completely consistent with other actions of the NEA. On their page highlighting recommended reading for teachers, the group touts the work of self-proclaimed Satanist (and Obama motivator) Saul Alinsky. In calling Alinsky, "an inspiration to anyone contemplating action in their community," the NEA encourages those charged with educating our children to immerse themselves in the tactics of progressive community organizing. They heartily endorse Alinsky's 1971 book, Rules for Radicals – a socialist how-to guide for gaining power and redistributing wealth.

As commentator Brannon Howse explains, "The NEA is a group of radicals who are opposed to parental authority, opposed to accountability, and they're not for traditional education....They are for a progressive, liberal, anti-American worldview." It's why the NEA applauds the work of communists like John Dewey and domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers, all the while publishing guides on how to defeat the "religious right."

Why conscientious, patriotic teachers continue sending their money to these Marxists is beyond comprehension. As I wrote last year:

"Sure, there are excuses we can use to justify our capitulation and spineless allegiance to causes we know to be wrong. We can accept the fear-mongering about how we'll all lose our jobs without the NEA. We can delude ourselves into believing that when we check the box stating our dues can't be used for political purposes that we aren't still contributing to the very executive councils, legal offices, and management that is publicly acknowledging their hatred towards everything we stand for. We can rationalize that it's impossible anymore to keep from spending our money on things we don't really support. But we shouldn't do it any longer. Our consciences shouldn't allow it." (Read the entire column from July 20, 2009)

Here's the truth: no teacher has to affiliate themselves with the NEA. There are two excellent alternative organizations – the Christian Educators Association International and the Association of American Educators – that provide sometimes double the amount of liability coverage to teachers for a fraction of the NEA's price for membership. They can do this because they, unlike the NEA, aren't using the dues of teachers to lobby for left-wing social and political causes.

And even in those states where the law requires membership, there are legal alternatives for opting out. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation offers assistance to any such teacher.

Moreover, besides just individuals, there is no reason that local associations should continue affiliating themselves under the leadership of such a backwards organization. A local association can willfully choose (in most states) to operate independently of the NEA's belligerently left-wing leadership. And those that do find they operate much more effectively.

The NEA and its state affiliates have proven themselves disinterested in the business of actually improving the quality of education for students. As the NEA's own summer convention demonstrated, they are preoccupied with using dues dollars to advocate: repeal of all right-to-work laws, federal funding of sexual orientation instruction, federal funding to educate illegal aliens, universal healthcare, and (of course) killing human children in the womb.

The NEA's support of these positions is not just symbolic. According to the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the NEA is the top spender in national and state politics, spending four times more than any other donor. And – surprise, surprise – 95 percent of that money went to the Democratic Party and leftist ballot initiatives.

Simply put, there is no excuse for any American teacher (Christian or not) who believes in the values and principles of Western civilization to remain associated with the NEA. They are a culturally Marxist organization that holds a flagrant antipathy towards this country and its traditions.

Fellow teachers, let's drain them of their dues.


Leading British universities snub top students as political pressure means top grade is ignored

It was billed as the super-grade that would help the brightest sixth-formers stand out. According to a Daily Mail survey, however, most leading universities have ignored the A*, meaning some high achievers will be left without a place on a degree course at all.

The grade, introduced by Labour, will be awarded for the first time this summer to students who score 90 per cent or more in their second-year exams. But the previous government has been accused of putting universities under 'overt pressure' to shun the A* in case it led to a surge in private-school pupils winning places.

It told universities not to use the grades for at least three years, until the accuracy of grade predictions had been tested. As a result, many, including Oxford, said they had inevitably turned away applicants expected to achieve one or more A*s.

Some experts believe the A* will actually benefit state school pupils. And independent school leaders said universities were 'spineless' for refusing to acknowledge academic prowess.

Cambridge is unique in embracing the grade this year. It believes state pupils will not lose out. Out of 3,000 offers of places it made this year, 2,800 specify that candidates must achieve A*AA when A-level results are published on Thursday. Another 80 must gain two A*s and an A. Three must be awarded three A*s.

But the reluctance by other universities to take the grade into account, even as competition intensifies, means thousands vying for places could find their A*s count for nothing. Of 38,000 who achieved three As in 2009, some 3,000 failed to land a university place. With a further rise in those gaining A grades expected next week, record numbers pupils face missing out.

Our survey of 30 of the most selective universities shows how the A* has made little impact this year. Some 23 said they had not taken any account of teachers' predictions of A*s.

Oxford said: 'We have not used the A* in the first two years because we got a clear message from teachers that they could not predict who would get the grade.'

Others, including Imperial College, Nottingham, Leicester and Surrey, said they considered all predicted grades. But only five said they made conditional offers using the A*.

Cambridge had made the most use of it, with Imperial College, University College London, Warwick and Loughborough using it in some cases.

Geoff Lucas, of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, representing 250 fee-paying schools, said the A* was 'spurring the very bright kids'. But universities had faced 'pretty overt pressure' not to consider it.

Dr Geoff Parks, Cambridge admissions director, said: 'It may be the balance shifts slightly towards what Alastair Campbell described as the "bog-standard comprehensive" and away from the independent sector.'


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