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The Apologetics Resource Center (ARC) is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to reach the minds and hearts of people with the message and truth claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Public Schools: The Sorcerer's New Apprentice?
Part 1
By Craig Branch

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

There is a way which seems right to man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov 14:12).

The front covers of Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report reflected some of the agony of the Littleton, Colorado school massacre, and in bold letters asked the question "Why?".

The school shootings at Columbine High School punctuated the escalation of juvenile crime in America over the past decade. Dr. John DiIulio, professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University and one of the nation's leading experts on criminal justice, observes that the young criminals are "characterized by violent impulsiveness and a chilling lack of empathy and remorse."

One month later, six more students were wounded in an upscale high school in metro Atlanta by a 15 year old who was upset over a breakup with his girlfriend. This marked the sixth school shooting spree in 20 months and was one more incident in an alarming growth of violent acts committed by kids around the country over the past few years. DiIulio documents that in 1994, 2.7 million adolescents were arrested, up from 1.7 million in 1991. 150,000 of those were for violent crimes.

Indeed the realization of this growing problem, made noticeable by the media, has caused our society to seek answers to the question "Why?". Congress and the President have been holding hearings, hearing from people sharing a number of different perspectives on the causes and cures of this growing epidemic.

The issue is complex as there are a number of mitigating factors producing the types of personalities and cultural maladies which precipitate this violence. Experts put the blame on things such as lack of parental involvement, lack of gun control, teenage occult movement, media violence, intolerant attitudes and other broader cultural issues.

But a factor strangely absent from the current debate are certain educational philosophies in our public schools which are certainly having a major effect in producing children who commit violent crime.

Donna Hearn, executive director of the Constitutional Coalition, appeared before the House Judiciary Committee Hearings On Violence at Littleton and correctly pointed to a major component contributing to the problem. She testified, "We must examine the philosophy of education, as well as what is happening in the classroom…It can be best described as a philosophy of no moral absolutes, no historic truth to be taught, and man deciding for himself what is right or wrong."

One of the Columbine killers, Eric Harris, wrote in his philosophy class, "my belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law, and if you don't like it, you die…Feel no remorse, no sense of shame."

I can verify that there are certain destructive educational philosophies endemic in some public school curricula which are contributing to our growing social problems. In fact, John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and I wrote a comprehensive book on the subject, documenting the New Age religious beliefs and practices, occult, and inappropriate, often harmful psychotherapeutic techniques in the classroom. The book, titled Thieves of Innocence, was published in 1993 by Harvest House. It has now been reprinted, titled Public Schools: The Sorcerer's New Apprentice, the title of these series of articles.

In the book, we demonstrate how leaders and activists in the New Age Movement, transpersonal psychologists and other liberal humanistic social engineers and ideologues have come into an unholy convergence producing this trend of destructive curricula.

New Age leader Marilyn Ferguson wrote a sociology textbook in 1980, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980's, in which she interviewed many of her New Age colleagues who were leaders and influencers in the various areas of our culture. After they shared their goals, strategies and accomplishments, Mrs. Ferguson wrote, "Of the [New Agers] surveyed, more were involved in education than in any other single category of work. They were teachers, administrators, policy makers, educational psychologists. Their consensus: education [must be transformed]….Subtle forces are at work, factors you are not likely to see in banner headlines. For example, tens of thousands of classroom teachers, educational consultants and psychologists, counselors, administrators, researchers, and faculty members in colleges of education have been among the millions engaged in personal transformation. They have only recently begun to link regionally and nationally, to share strategies, to conspire for the teaching of all they most value."

This series of articles will detail the history of these problematic approaches to educating our children, their strategic agenda, the actual and potential harm that comes from indoctrination in these approaches, how to recognize it and how to effectively challenge and hopefully remove it in order to protect our children and our culture.

Parents and educators alike must be responsive, but in an informed and intelligent manner. I offer this overview which will be developed in the upcoming series of articles:

  1. The New Age Movement is a spiritual and sociological phenomenon in our country. Its beliefs and practices are establishing themselves in many areas of our culture.
  2. It can be demonstrated that there are many educators and curriculum developers who are either personally involved in the New Age perspective or have accepted the practices, techniques and theories without knowledge of their source.
  3. It can be demonstrated that the adoption of New Age/occultic ideology and practices is not just sporadic and random, but that there is an underlying philosophical current in place, ready to produce a flood of these curricula into the public schools across America.
  4. It has been our experience that these beliefs tend to enter through counseling; self-esteem, stress reduction, health and gifted programs; creative writing classes; some global education courses; and some literature curricula.
  5. The usual form these programs take is in deep breathing relaxation or progressive relaxation exercises, guided imagery, and visualization. These are sometimes associated with inappropriate and ineffective value-free, values-clarification or affective learning programs.
  6. The techniques and the presuppositions on which such programs are based are intrinsic to Eastern and other mystical religious traditions and practices (such as Hinduism and meditation). Further, they are frequently synonymous with the techniques of hypnosis and trance induction. Unfortunately, often these techniques are purposely disguised to project a secular appearance.
  7. Religious practice in the schools constitutes a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment since public schools cannot promote the practice or ideology of religion.
  8. Even if administrators refuse to acknowledge this connection to occult religion, there is the further problem of using hypnosis and dissociative techniques or other psychotherapeutic methods. Using psychological techniques without the informed consent of parents constitutes a violation of the Hatch Amendment and the Grassley Act and is therefore illegal.
  9. It can be established that there are genuine risks and liabilities for both school and children if unlicensed teachers are involved in administering speculative or unproven therapeutic techniques so that resulting psychiatric problems occur. This may be considered malpractice.
  10. Many self-esteem-oriented, drug or alcohol prevention and sex education curricula utilize a nondirective decision-making process without empirical justification. In fact, evidence suggests these methods have actually produced a rise in such activities.
  11. The content of many of these materials is likely a violation of students' and parents' constitutional right to privacy.
  12. Parents should not only be well informed but also closely involved with their children and teachers to make sure such practices are not occurring in the classroom.
  13. Because of the frequency of incidents, we are recommending that state or local school boards adopt official policy prohibiting the use of these techniques. This would prevent the costly political, emotional, educational and financial consequences of litigation.

If you would like to receive a copy of the 303 page, Public Schools: The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice? click here.

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