“SHARED TlME SCHOOL PLAN”
The problem of federal aid to education remains a vexing problem to school officials and politicians, as well as to Church leaders. There are those, predominantly Roman Catholics, who insist on their proper share of federal funds for their parochial and private schools. There are others, pleading the principle of separation of Church and State, who insist that tax funds should be used only for public schools.
In connection with this problem the problem of religion in public schools has also been a persistent headache. May religion be taught? If not, are not our public schools atheistic? If religion may be taught, how much religion? And, what religion?
A novel solution to these problems is being seriously considered by Church leaders, educational leaders and politicians in Washington. The solution is called the “Shared Time School Plan.” Basically the plan is that private schools and public schools share the time of students. Private schools who wish td retain the right to educate their children according to the principles of their own religious convictions would teach the children those subjects which have religious implications. Public schools would teach these same children subjects which did not need any religious interpretation. Among the former subjects would presumably be included Religion, Bible, Social Studies, perhaps Literature and History. Among the latter subjects proponents of this plan include Physical Education, Home Economics, Manual Training, Arithmetic, all branches of Science. The student would then receive instruction in the former subjects in a private school supported by his parents, while he would go to a public school to receive his training and education in the latter subjects.
The advantages of such a plan are supposed to be many:
1) It would give private school students access to federal funds allocated for education while the principle of the separation between Church and State would be maintained.
2) It would relieve private schools from making extensive outlays of money for such expensive equipment as gymnasiums, shops for manual training, science: laboratories, etc.
3) It would partially solve the problem of teacher shortages inasmuch as teachers in the neutral subjects would be used for greater numbers of students.
4) Supposedly, it would return the responsibility for educating children back to the parents to whom this responsibility belongs.
5) Some parents who want to provide their children with private education and yet fear that such education withdraws their children from the “realities of life” would have their problem solved by sending them into the “realities of life” in a public school.
The plan is still mostly in the discussion stage, but it is being tried out on a limited scale in various places. The Roman Catholic Church has not given its official blessing to the plan, but has stated that there is nothing to stop local Church and School officials from going ahead with the plan in their localities if they desire.
It is impossible to predict whether this plan will receive broad acceptance and actually be introduced into the present school system. There are all kinds of practical problems that arise such as the meshing of schedules, the huge influx of students into the public schools, etc., but the promoters of this plan say that these practical problems can all be worked out with patience and willingness.
As ingenious as the plan may appear, it surely is based upon a premise which flatly contradicts the very foundation of our own Christian School movement. It would spell the destruction of our schools as surely as any government take over.
On the one hand, it is a fundamental principle of the education of God’s covenant children that the truth of the Word of God must be the integrating principle of every subject taught. The plan presupposes that there are certain subjects that must be taught from a religious viewpoint, others that need not be. The justification of this is supposed to be found in the text in Scripture, “Render unto, Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This is obviously wrong. The truth of God is one. Every subject worthy of study in the school is part of the revelation of the truth of God. This is not only true of Bible and of History; it is equally true of Science and Mathematics.
The question might arise whether this is also true of such subjects as Physical Education, Home Economics and Manual Training. Apart now from the question whether these subjects properly belong on the curriculum (and it is a debatable question), if they are included they also must be taught from the viewpoint of the truth of God’s Word and from the principle that the child of God must be prepared to serve his God in the midst of the world. To follow this plan would be to feed our children a huge dose of false religion or atheism every day of the week.
On the other hand, one factor in the establishment of our own schools, while not the most important, is that our children must not be placed in an environment where there is no fear of God. Our children must learn to live in the world. But they must not learn to live in the world by associating with the children of the world, finding their friends and life partners among these children, learning the habits which persist through life from the children of unbelievers.
We must have our own schools. Our children must be taught completely in these schools. The sacrifices which this entails are entirely worth the calling to train our children in the way they should go.
MEMBERSHIP IN AMERICAN CHURCHES
The 30th issue of the Yearbook of American Churches for 1962 has just been published. It is edited by Benson Y. Landis and published by the Office of Publication and Distribution, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, 745 Riverside Drive, New York 27, New York. It can be obtained from this address for $5.95. It contains information on 260 religious bodies in the United States, mostly statistical. It however also, distinguishes the various groups within broader ecclesiastical groups such as the different Adventist bodies, the branches of Presbyterianism, the various kinds of Lutheran Churches, etc.
There are some interesting trends in American Church life quoted from this book in a recent issue of The Banner.
Estimated population of the United States: 1950—151,132,000; 1960—180,004,000.
Church membership as percentage of the population: 1950—57 percent; 1960—63.6 percent.
Total number of members in all Church bodies: 1950—86,830,490; 1960—114,449,217.
Average number of members per Church: 1950—304; 1960—359.
Protestant membership: 1950—51,079,578 or 33.5 percent of the total population; 1960—63,668,835 or 35.4 percent of the total population.
Roman Catholic membership: 1950—25,634,878 or 18.9 percent of the total population; 1960—42,104,900 or 23.6 percent of the total population.
SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIANS AND THE NCC
The Southern Presbyterian Church, in its general assembly to be held next month in Winston-Salem, North Carolina will have to treat at least three overtures requesting that the denomination withdraw from the National Council of Churches. As reported in The Banner a motion to withdraw from the NCC was tabled last year by a vote of 250 to 248. The grounds for the overtures are, in part, that the NCC proposes teachings and policies foreign to the faith and confession of the Church, and that the Church resents the fact that the NCC claims to speak for the 40 million members of this organization which includes Southern Presbyterians. The Council has answered this charge with a statement that says in part: “Contrary to widely held beliefs, the council does not speak for the nearly 40 million churchgoers represented in 33 member denominations, but it serves them in the fields of Christian education, foreign and home missions, overseas relief, evangelism, and in matters affecting spiritual, moral and social conditions under which the church and its Christian believers must carry on.”
It is hard to imagine the claim of the council that they can make pronouncements without speaking for their membership. This seems to be a contradiction. However, it would be a further evidence of the strength of the Southern Presbyterian Church if they should succeed in passing this motion to withdraw. It remains, a question” whether the more conservative element in the church has the strength to overcome the very liberal element that seems to have gained the upper hand in this troubled denomination.
RELICS OF THE CROSS
The Roman Catholic Church has claimed for many centuries to possess many relics of the original cross of Christ which relics they preserve with the greatest care and cherish in many churches and cathedrals and monasteries around the world. Skeptics have often claimed that there was enough wood among all the relics to make a good sized battleship. Pious Catholics rather favored the view that the true cross of Christ has multiplied itself in the manner of the loaves and fishes.
According to an article in Our Sunday Visitor a French scholar of the last century was supposed to have made a study of this question by examining all the relics and determining their collective size and weight. He published his findings in a book which also contained the history of this cross.
The cross was supposed to have been discovered in 326 by St. Helena. Most of the cross remained in Jerusalem from the time of the crucifixion, but one piece was sent to Emperor Constantine and another to the city of Constantinople. Chosroes, king of Persia, burnt Jerusalem in 614 and confiscated the cross carrying it to Cresphantes on the Tigris River. It was recovered there in 628 and carried back to Jerusalem by Emperor Heraclius who walked at the head of a procession bare footed and in clothes of penance. Infidels burned the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in which the cross was kept in 636, but the cross itself was rescued. It was at this time divided into nineteen pieces and distributed throughout the then known world for reasons of safety. Three pieces were sent to Constantinople, two to Cyprus, one to Crete, three to Antioch, one to Edessa, one to Alexandria, one to Ascalon, one to Damascus, two to Georgia and four pieces were kept in Jerusalem. Since then these pieces have been cut up into many fragments of very minute size and distributed throughout the Church. Estimating the size of the cross and the type of wood used, the learned author concluded that there was about one-third of the cross still missing. The wonder of the cross was not that so many relics existed, but rather that so many are unknown or lost.
While this reverence for the cross displays the superstition upon which much of Roman Catholic worship is founded and the idolatry which forms a part of its life, it still remains an unproved assumption that the Romish Church is in possession of even the smallest sliver of wood from the cross. And even if this could be proved, the hope and comfort of the cross is not at all in its wood, but is rather in the obedient servant of Jehovah who died on the cross for the sins of His people. This glorious truth is obscured by the evil superstition of the Roman Catholic Church.