The conservative Weekly Standard has a really amazing article on its website this week. Written by Katherine Kersten, the article documents the decline in education in the public schools of Edina, Minnesota. For well over a decade, Edina’s public schools were, as Kersten notes, “the gold standard among the state’s school districts.” Edina, a suburb outside Minneapolis, is wealthy and mostly white.
Despite continuing with what works, almost overnight Edina’s school system has decided its educators down to the elementary school level must prioritize social justice over reading, writing and arithmetic. Down to the elementary school level, principals and teachers encourage children to learn about and support Black Lives Matters, gay marriage, feminism and “creative counter to corporate values.”
As you might might imagine, standardized test scores have declined. Though the school has made a special priority of teaching how to apply “Marxist, feminist, post-colonial (and) psychoanalytical ... lenses to literature,” reading scores and math scores are not improving. Discipline problems, however, are on the rise.
I suspect this is going to become a trend. Victim studies are on the rise and colleges are increasingly hotbeds of indoctrination instead of education. This is descending into the elementary and secondary level and private and public schools. As it does, it makes me wonder and worry more about the church and where it heads.
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There has been a necessary focus in American churches on race in the last few years. The prophetic books of the Bible spend a great deal of time chastising and condemning the people for failing to care for widows, orphans, the poor and refugees. Many churches have responded by growing more charitably and focusing on missions and care. But, many churches have flung themselves so far into social justice that they have lost the gospel. Just the other day a group of purportedly Christian pastors prayed to “bless” the opening of an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., in the name of “women’s rights.”
Many churches purportedly in Jesus’s name are embracing gay marriage. All the arguments in defense thereof echo Satan in the garden asking, “Did God really say?” Churches in America are seemingly in the midst of a crisis of education just as secularism is. The pervasiveness of American individuality has invaded churches to such a degree that three people on one pew in one church can have three different interpretations of a common passage of scripture and some would treat all three as valid.
American individuality is a good thing, but as it has descended into pews across America it has corrupted congregants and whole churches into thinking they can take a common gospel and apply it uniquely to themselves in ways that do not fit. The gospel, they forget, does not just change individuals, but it will change the whole culture and world. It is both a collective and individual force. Hiding behind Jesus to reflect the world collectively in a church and individually based on wanting sin repackaged as Christ affirming is no different than delving into scripture for Marxist, feminist, and post-colonial applications.
As the culture around the church descends into this madness led by public and private education, churches need to remember they are set apart to be different and will one day be needed to rebuild society after this madness has burned its way through. But they will be unable to if they have let the cultural insanity take over or if they have let their mission fields be conformed to the culture into which they have ventured to share the gospel.
Erick Erickson is a radio talk show host in Atlanta.