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Guest Column

Was Christianity ever a part of American education?
By Jeff Wallace
May 16, 2014 - 7:55:40 AM

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Most Americans realize that our educational system is not producing the results that we should expect. What was once the standard for the rest of the world has become sub-par in many areas. If you were to do an Internet search for the first American public education law you would find the Olde Deluder Satan Law of 1647. This law was from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. All the framework of our current educational system can be found in that short three-paragraph document. It must be remembered that only twenty-seven years earlier this colony was a virgin wilderness. Once the area was established with townships, the people thought to establish public schools to develop a consistent form of education for future citizens. When a town had grown to fifty families, it was required to hire a teacher to teach the children how to write and read. After the town reached one-hundred families, it was required to have a Grammar School "to instruct youth ... for the Universitie(sic)." There were also strict fines on the parents for illiteracy in their children.

We still have the same type of school system throughout America. Primary, secondary and university levels of education are seen in every state in the union. What we do not see is the content of the education that was taught in the schools. "It being the chief project of that old deluder Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures ... that Learning may not be buried in the graves of our fore-fathers in Church and Commonwealth."

In 1642 Massachusetts had established a core curriculum for education, yet most of the education was still primarily the parents' responsibility. The children were to learn the English language and the Capital laws of the colony. The Capital laws, capital punishment laws, were all listed giving the Bible verse that called for such penalty to be needed for the proscribed action. In essence, if a child could not read the English language he/she would not be able to read the Scriptures and therefore would not be able to understand the laws and governments of both "Church and Commonwealth." If the child was not going to attend college, he was required to learn some type of skill that would enable him to feed himself and take care of his wife and children to not be a burden on society. Personal responsibility was very important in education.

Grammar schools were where the child would be taught the Greek and Latin languages. This was to prepare them for the university, which, at that time, was Harvard, established in 1636. Colleges and universities are where the future leaders of any society are developed. Ministers are developed to teach the people their moral and spiritual duties, while government leaders are taught to administer the peace and security of the society. The entrance exam for college was to have the student translate a chapter of the Bible from Greek into English. The average age for college was fourteen years old.

By 1690 the first universal textbook was published for what we would call first grade. It was called the New England Primer. This book was last published as an American textbook in 1930. The child learned his ABCs from Biblical usages. The second test question was "What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?" Answer: "The word of God which is contained in the scriptures of the old and new testament is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God and enjoy him." In 1765 John Adams boasted of a 99% literacy rate in America. History has shown, in no uncertain terms, that the men who were educated by that American educational system and who signed the Declaration of Independence were the smartest group of men ever assembled in the history of the civilized world.

The question needs to be asked, are we smarter today than the early Americans of the 1700s? If not, then why are we not? Maybe it is time to revisit the basics of the educational system that developed America.

Jeff Wallace

Jeff Wallace, is a former Mississippi state representative candidate, and in his book "In God We Trusted" he explores the contradictions between his state's constitution and what the courts say about the separation of church and state. He believes in challenging people to seek out information and educate themselves about their country.

He is the winner of 2010 Christian Choice Book Award for his first book and holds an associate degree in theology from Way College of Biblical Research. For more than three decades he has been involved in non-denominational Christian outreach and teaching ministries and is married with two sons. For more information, visit

"In God We Trusted"
By Jeff Wallace
ISBN: 978-1-4627-3521-1
Available in softcover and e-book
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and CrossBooks

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