By Lydia Kaiser
Are you concerned that your child’s faith and values will be negatively impacted in a public school? You are not alone. However, I’d encourage you to not look at your child’s school as a battlefield. Instead, see it as a garden where you can plant seeds of love and truth. Those seeds can be planted in your children’s lives as you teach them discernment during each day’s debrief. Those seeds of love and truth can also be planted in the lives of your child’s teachers by helping them understand how to create faith-friendly classrooms.
We want faith-friendly classrooms not only for the sake of our own children being able to express their faith freely, but also for the sake of children who need to hear others expressing their faith. Many children do not attend church, and they spend most of their time in school, so it’s important for them to hear the truth from classmates at school and from teachers when explaining historical facts.
According to ChurchLeaders.com only 18% of Americans attend any stripe of Christian church. Polls show that religious practice increases with age, so we can assume the percentage of children attending church is even lower than 18%.
In order to reach children where they are, we must reach them in the public school. Your influence, and your children’s is vital. Child Evangelism Fellowship, also known as CEF, has a program called Good News Club which meets after school in elementary schools. Sometimes it’s difficult to get clubs going because of misinformation and fear of legalities. But once they get going, teachers and administrators love Good News Club, because it reinforces the character principles they are trying to instill in students.
CEF appreciates other organizations which are making a positive impact in schools. For example, one is Moms In Prayer. Groups of mothers meet to pray for their own children, their children’s classmates, teachers, and school administrators. We are in a spiritual battle for the souls of our children and that battle must start with prayer.
Another wonderful organization is Gateways to Better Education. They are working to create a better future for children by keeping God in our schools. Gateways to Better Education “envisions public schools as places where students feel the freedom to express their faith and where they gain an academic appreciation for the Bible and Christianity across the whole curriculum as it relates to history, culture, and values. This can be done legally and appropriately within existing constitutional boundaries and in keeping with current laws and state standards.”
At their website, gogateways.org, you can find many resources to help you as a parent be a gracious advocate for your student, for Christian teachers, and Administrators. I love how they promote a friendly, relational style of advocacy rather than a combative style of advocacy.
There is still a lot of fear and misinformation out there. Many people still believe it’s illegal to talk about God in school, to pray, or hold Bible clubs such as the Good News Club on school property. The Supreme Court ruled in Good News Club v Milford Central School District that Bible clubs such as the Good News Club must be given the same access to school facilities accorded any other non-school-related outside group. A public school which allows use of its facilities to secular groups may not discriminate against religious groups simply because of point of view. Such discrimination is a violation of freedom of speech. This equal access ruling is true even of adult-initiated and adult-led activities. Permitting use of a school building does not violate the Establishment clause. The school itself is not establishing or endorsing a religion, it is merely allowing equal access for everyone regardless of point of view.
Today’s youth are desperate for hope and for meaning in life, especially after the discouraging events of 2020. I’d encourage you to see how God might use you to help your child’s school by clearing up confusion and advocating for the light of the gospel to shine in this place.
This article explains the “halo effect” and why church attendance is not what most polls indicate: https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html
This article explains that church attendance skews toward older people. Therefore, one might conclude that attendance for children is even less than the general population stats for church attendance. https://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/875a2ChurchAttendance.pdf
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