By Jeff Keaton – Founder, CEO & President of Renewanation
According to much research, the church in America has been losing a significant majority of young people for several decades now. As early as elementary and middle school, kids have doubts and questions about the Bible that are going unanswered.1 Studies indicate that 59-70% of young people who regularly attend church during their teen years will drop out of organized religion during part of their early adult life.2 Undoubtedly, the false ideas kids are taught in school and the truth concepts they never have an opportunity to explore in secular schools play a significant role in this dropout rate. These kids are also not getting solid answers from church leaders and parents. Research from the Barna Group reveals “a vast majority of theologically conservative pastors believe the Bible speaks to societal issues, but fewer than 10 percent of these pastors are teaching people what the Bible says on these topics.” Young people are not getting solid, biblically-based answers to the skeptical questions of this day, and many are leaving the church and turning to atheism or some vague idea of “spirituality” as a result.3 This lack of a well-rounded education creates major deficits in the hearts and minds of secular school students.
In 2014, Answers in Genesis researched the 20-29 age group in the church and found that:
- Over 40% state they are not born again.
- 35% declare the Bible has errors or they don’t know if it has errors.
- Close to 90% attend public school.
- Over 20% left school believing the Bible was less true.
- Over 45% say they were not taught to defend their faith at Sunday School.
- 45% say homosexual behavior is not a sin or they don’t know if it’s a sin.
- 40% believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and have legal rights, and an additional 10% are unsure.
- 20% believe there are books other than the Bible that are inspired by God, and an additional 10% are unsure.
- 65% believe if you are a good person you will go to heaven.4
Six major deficits students attending secular schools must overcome to develop and maintain a biblical worldview:
1. The authority and teachings of the Bible
At no point in public education is the authority of Scripture taught in a positive way. Yes, a Christian teacher may at times allude to their belief in the Bible, but they are not allowed to teach it in any serious way. At every turn, the authority of God’s Word is challenged, questioned, and outright denied. In fact, the Bible was on the top ten list of most challenged books in America’s schools and libraries in 2015.5 Students have even been shamed for choosing to read the Bible as their choice of book in free reading time.6 Once a child begins to question the validity and authority of the Word of God, their whole faith is in grave jeopardy.
In a Christian school, the authority of Scripture is upheld at every turn. This alone should be enough to help parents realize the tremendous value of Christian education. However, many Christian parents have been so secularized, they don’t believe in the authority of Scripture as they should. The Bible is a good book to them, but not the ultimate source of truth.
If you question my assumption on how the Bible is looked at in public education, consider how it is looked at in society. If a scientist declares he believes the Bible to be literally true, he is considered a quack. The secularization of our society through education is rapidly approaching completion.
2. The truth about God
The theory and practice of secular education is clear and simple: God does not exist and is irrelevant to life. How can we consider education whole when it never considers the source of truth in the universe? How does a child apply meaning to what they are taught when they don’t know who created us and why we are here?
We’ve heard it said that the school teaches neutral facts while the church and parents teach faith. This divides life into the sacred and the secular and rejects the fact that public schools teach their own set of beliefs. Kids go to church and hear stories about David and Goliath and then go to school and learn “real” facts about how the earth came to be, etc. This sacred/secular divide has been a scourge on Christianity and has resulted in the loss of millions of children and adults from the faith.
In Christian education, we teach our students that God reigns over every square inch of this universe. He is the creator of every algebraic formula and every reality of chemistry. As we study this amazing world, we catch a glimpse of the majesty and brilliance of our Creator God. We show kids God’s written revelation of Himself, the Bible, so they can see His majesty, authority, and kingship. If we truly believe God exists and is the ruler of this universe, how can we possibly educate kids in a system that never mentions His name or His influence on this world?
3. The origin of the world (creation/evolution)
Public education has been so effective in this area that many Christian universities now believe evolution is the best answer for how we got here. They say they believe God created the world, but He used evolution to do it. This creates a host of issues with biblical authority and concerns with things like whether or not Adam and Eve were real people who fell into sin and when death entered the world, etc.
Since secular educators do not believe the Bible, they do not believe God created the world in six days. Evolution is their explanation for how we got here. Layers and layers of false assumptions and theories have become facts in current culture. For example, these words are directly taken from a public school textbook (talking about the Big Bang): “According to this theory, nothing existed before the big bang. There was no time or space. But out of this nothingness came the vast system of space, time, matter, and energy that now makes up the universe. The explosion released all of the matter and energy that still exist in the universe today.”7
About half of current religious “nones” who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention science as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said: “I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.” Others reference “common sense, logic or a lack of evidence” or simply say they do not believe in God.8
People have been so conditioned to trust scientists, the priests in the religion of science, they don’t even question them. In Ray Comfort’s video, Evolution vs. God, the college students interviewed eventually acknowledged that it takes faith to believe in evolution.9 Many of the young people said they believed in evolution because that’s what they had been taught by a professor.
Secular education is 100% sold out to evolution. This theory alone has resulted in more young people losing faith in the validity of Scripture than perhaps any other theory.10 According to a recent national survey, 55% of American adults believe that “science and religion [are] often in conflict.” This same attitude can be found among young adults raised as Christians. Nearly a third of young people with a Christian background believe “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in,” and a quarter of them think “Christianity is anti-science.”
As Christianity slides into a new dark age in America, more and more Christians are abandoning the teachings of Scripture. Those, who do not believe in evolution, are ridiculed and portrayed as ignorant. Science has become the standard, instead of the Word of God.
A biblical worldview education acknowledges the theory of evolution but teaches God created the world as described in the Bible. Bible-believing creationists can be found in almost every academic discipline and field of science. You don’t have to believe in the historical science of evolution to practice observational science such as chemistry or DNA research. We’re all dealing with the same facts when it comes to observational science.
4. The proper foundation for teaching morality
The lack of belief in an absolute standard of right and wrong has produced chaos in secular schools. If you’re old enough to remember public school in the 40-60’s and compare them with our schools today, it is unbelievable what has happened. Even in the 70’s when my siblings and I attended public school for a few years, there was plenty of sin, but Christians were at least respected.
The predominant worldview in secular education is postmodernism. This belief denies the reality of absolutes or the ability to know if absolutes exist. According to postmodernism, everyone has his own “story” which is just as true as any other story because there is no grand metanarrative that each story has to fit into. This means there is no objective truth for a postmodernist. Truth is subjective.
In a video taken on the streets of Seattle, Dr. Christian Overman asked people to define right and wrong. In almost two hours of interviews, not one person expressed a biblical view of right and wrong. Most declared you could not know for sure what was right or wrong and the definition is different for every person.
When we tell children there is no lawgiver who has given us absolute laws to live by, it becomes the free-for-all we see today. American culture is imploding from within as every group screams for their rights and demands to never be offended. Political correctness has made it almost impossible to give a speech and not highly offend someone. In a world that believes there are no absolute rules or laws, we are increasingly being oppressed with a new unspoken rule of law.
God’s laws were put in place to protect us, not restrict us. When we fail to teach our children His laws, we are guaranteeing them a life of confusion and discord. Life does not work well without the peace that comes from living according to God’s design and plan.
In Christian education, we teach kids God wrote His laws in the Bible for us to know and follow. His laws are absolutely right at all times and in every circumstance. This knowledge serves as an anchor to young people who are trying to find their way through the maze of life.
5. The truth about human sexuality
The harm being done to children in our schools concerning this subject is a form of child abuse. Little boys and girls who shouldn’t even be thinking about their sex are being destroyed through social experimentation. How are we letting this happen? According to state standards, students as young as kindergarten age are taught “the many ways to express gender. Gender expression education will include information about the manifestations of traits that are typically associated with one gender. Crossdressing is one form of gender expression.” Students are taught that they can choose their own identity.11
Long before gender became the issue, secular education was taking a strong stand against biblical sexual norms. For decades, we have been giving kids condoms, teaching that having sex before marriage is good and acceptable, abstinence is impossible, and filling their minds with the lies of homosexuality.
I will never forget the two 16-year-old kids that came to me distraught over the pressure they were under at their secular high school. They had committed to sexual purity, but every day they were harassed because they hadn’t had sex yet. These recently saved teens wanted to do what was right, but their teachers and fellow students at school thought they were crazy! Some may say kids can be missionaries in secular schools, but it’s simply not true for the majority of Christian kids. According to statistics, Christian kids are being evangelized to believe the lies of the world, and not the other way around.
6. The truth about American history and heritage
Most of America’s founders were men and women greatly impacted by the Judeo-Christian worldview. Men like George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” The Bible heavily influenced our founding documents, and it can safely be said that much of our success is a result of our Christian ethic and understanding.
However, America was never a perfect Christian nation and has sinned grievously at times. Slavery was perhaps the worst blight on our history, and it took the shed blood of more than 620,000 men in the civil war to begin the process of redemption from that sin.
In spite of her failures, America has been a unique and special nation. I personally never met my Grandfather Keaton because he gave his life fighting to stop Hitler from taking over Europe. The United States has been the greatest defender of freedom and justice the world has ever seen. This is a direct result of her Christian founding.
America’s Christian heritage must be taught to our children. However, children in far too many secular schools are taught to despise America’s “racist and bigoted” past, and this is causing a loss of national pride and respect. Athletes are refusing to stand for the national anthem. One group of high school football players actually laid on their backs during the anthem. Because the educational establishment in America’s universities has grown so hostile toward Christianity, they are producing K-12 teachers who are willing to ignore our Christian past, except when they can convince our kids it was not good.
Parents and pastors must get serious about addressing these deficits if they hope to save their children from abandoning the faith. At Renewanation, we highly recommend enrolling children in a Christian school or homeschool. We are also working on a biblical worldview training program to address these deficits. This program will be designed for churches to offer to their secular school students. Millions of children from Christian homes no longer believe in God and the Bible. It’s time to acknowledge that a battle is raging for the hearts and minds of our children, and we must do something new and concrete to win it! A banner hanging in the lobby of Sherwood Baptist Church says, “Whoever wants the next generation the most, will get them.” Are you willing to do what it takes to get them?
Jeff Keaton has been a successful pastor, church and school planter, and ministry entrepreneur. He has spent his adult life believing that through Christ anything is possible. As the founder and CEO of Renewanation, Jeff now works across the United States and Canada to help awaken the church to the great need to give every child a biblical worldview. Jeff is married to his high school sweetheart, Michele, and has two daughters and a son-in-law: Julianna, Andrew, and Heidi. He is the author of The Life of Radical Faith. Visit his website at jeffkeaton.net.
1. Ken Ham, “Pew Research: Why Young People Are Leaving Christianity,” Answers in Genesis, September 8, 2016, https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/church/pew-research-why-young-people-leaving-christianity.
2. “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church,” Barna Group, September 27, 2011, https://www.barna.com/research/six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church.
3. “State of Atheism in America” Barna Group, March 24, 2015, https://www.barna.com/research/2015-state-of-atheism-in-america.
4. Ken Ham, “Yes, We Are Losing the Millennials,” Answers in Genesis, May 13, 2015, https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/church/yes-we-are-losing-millennials.
5. Carol Kuruvilla, “The Holy Bible Is Now One Of The Most Challenged Books In America,” The Huffington Post, April 13, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-holy-bible-is-now-one-of-the-most-challenged-books-in-america_us_570d2d33e4b01422324a4465.
6. Todd Starnes, “Teacher Tells Student He Can’t Read the Bible in Classroom,” Fox News, May 05, 2014, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/05/05/teacher-tells-student-cant-read-bible-in-my-classroom.html.
7. Rinehart and Winston Holt, Holt Science Spectrum: Physical Science (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2008).
8. Michael Lipka, “Why America’s ‘Nones’ Left Religion Behind,” Pew Research Center, August 24, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind.
9. “Evolution Vs. God Movie,” YouTube, August 6, 2013, https://youtu.be/U0u3-2CGOMQ.
10. “Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media,” Pew Research Center, July 9, 2009, http://www.people-press.org/2009/07/09/public-praises-science-scientists-fault-public-media.
11. Health and Physical Education Standards (Superintendent of Public Instruction, 2016), http://www.k12.wa.us/HealthFitness/Standards/HPE-Standards.pdf.
This article originally appeared in The Renewanation Review® magazine. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here by permission of Renewanation. For more information regarding Renewanation, visit renewanation.org.