35) AMERICA: What should our schools teach concerning America and its founding and destiny?

Prophetic Statements

David O. McKay

Education for citizenship requires more emphasis upon the advantages and blessings of the American Way of Life.  Next to life itself freedom is man’s most cherished possession . . .

Communism is antagonistic to the American Way of Life.  Its avowed purpose is to destroy belief in God and free enterprise.  In education for citizenship, therefore, why should we not see to it that every child in America is taught the superiority of our way of life, of our Constitution and the sacredness of the freedom of the individual.  . . .

Education for citizenship demands more emphasis upon moral and spiritual values.  Our government was founded on faith in a Supreme Being as evidenced by the mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, by George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the Constitutional Convention, and by a hundred other incidents prior to, during, and following the birth of this Republic.  Said the Father of our Country:  “We have raised a standard to which the good and wise can repair; the event is in the hands of God.”

God and individual freedom are fundamental principle in our glorious Republic, and our obligation is to keep in our schools a reverence for Deity and respect for the dignity of the individual man.

. . . I have faith in the Constitution of the United States.  I believe that only through a truly educated citizenry can the ideals that inspired the Founding Fathers of our Nation be preserved and perpetuated.

I believe that four fundamental elements in such an education are:

1.  the basic essentials of oral and written composition—arithmetic, social studies and science.

2.  Loyal leadership as found in men who “cannot be bought or sold, men who will scorn to violate truth, genuine gold.”

3.  Open and forcible teaching of facts regarding communism as an enemy to God and to individual freedom.

4.  More emphasis on moral and spiritual values. 1

Ezra Taft Benson

It seems fashionable today for historians to “secularize” our history. Many modern scholars seem uncomfortable with the idea that a divine power had a hand in the beginning of our nation. They seek to explain away what the colonists themselves saw as divine intervention in their behalf. They credit even those remarkable events to “natural causes” or “rational” explanations. All events are explained from a “humanistic” frame of reference. This removes the need for faith in God or a belief that He is interested in the affairs of men. [1]

Teach our young people to love freedom, to know that it is God-given. Teach them that the Constitution of the United States was established by men whom God raised up for that very purpose, that it is not outmoded, that it is not an old-fashioned agrarian document, as some men in high places are calling it today. Teach them to love the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. [2]

To protect this base we must protect the soul of America — we must return to a love and respect for the basic spiritual concepts upon which this nation has been established. We must study the Constitution and the writings of the founding fathers.

Yes, we must protect the Lord’s base of operations by moving away from unsound economic policies which encourage creeping socialism and its companion, insidious, atheistic communism. If we are to protect this important base we must as a nation live within our means, balance our budgets, and pay our debts. We must establish sound monetary policies and take needed steps to compete in world markets.

If we are to protect this American base, we must realize that all things, including information disseminated by our schools, churches, and government, should be judged according to the words of the prophets, especially the living prophet. This procedure coupled with the understanding which will come through the Spirit of the Lord, if we are living in compliance with the scriptures, is the only sure foundation and basis of judgment. Any other course of action leaves us muddled, despondent, wandering in shades of gray, easy targets for Satan.

We must not fail in these pressing and important matters. We must not fall short of the great mission the Lord has proffered and outlined for America and for his divinely restored Church. [3]

Teach the responsibilities of citizenship. This includes an understanding of the principles of Americanism, and a love for the Constitution of this land and the glorious concepts and principles embodied in that great document. It also means to teach something of the prophetic history of this great nation and of the fruits of our free enterprise system. [4]

Could it be that through the proper training of youth we are helping to serve America? Can we not contribute to America’s stamina and survival? We can teach reverence to God, unselfishness, love of country, and the fundamental principles of righteous living. We can try to train youth through men of character. We must urge a religious life; we must encourage good education; we must promote patriotism; we must emphasize honesty, trust—worthiness, loyalty, and many other fine attributes of good character. The opportunity is ours, and the need is great. One of the tasks is to rediscover and reassert our faith in the spiritual, non-utilitarian values on which American life has rested from its beginning. [5]

We are rearing a generation which does not seem to understand the fundamentals of our American way of life, a generation which is no longer dedicated to its preservation. Our people, both before and after they arrive at the age of the ballot, should understand what it is that has made America great. We can only appreciate freedom if we understand the comparative fruits thereof. It is one thing to win freedom, but its preservation is equally important. If reference is made continually to weaknesses of the private enterprise system without any effort to point out its virtues and the comparative fruits of this and other systems, the tendency in this country will be, as it has been in other countries, to demand that the government take over more and more of the economic and social responsibilities and make more and more of the decisions for the people. This can result in but one thing, slavery of the individual to the state. This seems to be the trend of the world today. [6]

Today, students are subjected in their textbooks and classroom lectures to a subtle propaganda that there is a “natural” or rational explanation to all causes and events. Such a position removes the need for faith in God, or belief in His interposition in the affairs of men. Events are only-and I stress that-only explained from a humanistic frame of reference.

Historians and educational writers who are responsible for this movement are classified as “revisionists.” Their purpose has been and is to create a “new history.” By their own admission they are more influenced by their own training and other humanistic and scientific disciplines than any religious conviction. This detachment provides them, they say, with an objectivity that the older historians did not have.

Many of the older historians, I should point out, were defenders of the patriots and their noble efforts. Feeling no obligation to perpetuate the ideals of the Founding Fathers, some of the “new historians” have recast a new body of beliefs for their secular faith. Their efforts, in some cases, have resulted in a new interpretation of our nation’s history. [7]

Supporting Statements

Fred Schwartz

Communism should be taught in schools but it should be taught with a moral directive.  It should not be taught as an alternative economic philosophy but as a system of tyranny.  The object of the teaching should be to protect the students against the deceptive subtleties of Communist dialectics and to promote within them a greater devotion to freedom.  It should be taught as a medical school teaches cancer or tuberculosis—as an aid to its elimination.

Teaching that merely compares and contrasts certain features of Capitalist and Communist economics is dangerous indeed.  In a free society, the students continuously enjoy the privileges of freedom and it is difficult for them to conceive of a system where these values do not prevail.  Isolated aspects of Communistic economics assume a glittering luster when illuminated by the radiance of the star of liberty.  In the environment of communist tyranny, they are tawdry and repulsive . . .  At an early age, each student should be taught that the issue is clear cut—freedom versus slavery.  They then should be taught the techniques by which Communism seeks to deceive, conquer, and enslave.  2

Brigham Young University: A School of Destiny

The purpose of education is to increase faith. When Harvard college was founded in 1636, the Massachusetts colonists wrote, “after we had built our houses, provided the necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for Gods worship and settled the civil government, one of the next things we longed for and looked after was too advanced learning and to perpetuate it to posterity.” The earliest statement of the educational game of Harvard declares “Everyone shall consider the main aim of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life” 3

  1. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 319-320; “Righteousness Exalteth a Nation,” Provo, Utah–Freedom Festival, 29 June 1986
  2. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 310; An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 303-304
  3. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1962, p.105-106
  4. Ezra Taft Benson, “Responsibilities of Citizenship,” Brigham Young University Homecoming, Provo, Utah, 22 October 1954
  5. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 297; “Will America Be Destroyed by Americans?” Boy Scouts Banquet, Commerce, Texas, 13 May 1968
  6. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 299-300; The Red Carpet, p. 219
  7. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 320;”God’s Hand in Our Nation’s History,” Sons of Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, Utah, 23 August 1986
  1. President David O. McKay, Church News, March 13, 1954
  2. Fred Schwartz, You Can Trust the Communists, p. 176, as quoted in Prophets, Principles and National Survival, compiled by Jerreld L. Newquist, p. 181
  3. Brigham Young University: A School of Destiny, Marvin S. Hill, Ernest L.Wilkinson, W. Cleon Skousen
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