Dr. James Dobson Warned Us Six and Half Years Ago About Today <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
"In the state of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />California, if I had a child there, I wouldn't put the youngster in a public school." I think it's time to get our kids out." And I'm going to get hit for saying that." James Dobson, March 28th, (2002 Radio Broadcast)
Six and a half years have passed since James Dobson made that bold and honest statement. Focus on the Family has been faithful for years encouraging and strengthening Christian families, and evangelizing and discipling both young and old.
In a recent broadcast July 16th, 2008 Focus on the Family sought to answer the question, "Why are we losing our kids?" Studies show up to 3 out of 4 teenagers are walking away from the faith after the high school and college years, in some denominations it is high as 90 percent. At that rate the church will disappear in a few generations.
A Proper Diagnosis
The broadcast, "How to Shape Your Child's Faith," with Mr. Jack and Dona Eggar (leaders of the Awana ministry), identified the problem as parents abdicating the spiritual training of their children to the church. With all the resources in the church: Awana, Vacation Bible school, and Sunday school it is easy to see how parents may step back from their responsibility as spiritual leaders.
The panel stressed the importance of following Deuteronomy 6, living Christianity as an internal vibrant faith rather than an external legalistic faith. They emphasized the importance of living godly lives at home in front of their children, while modeling a life of humility, and transparency. "We can't just drop our children off at church, and expect them to be spiritual champions."
While the broadcast helped make parents more accountable it ignored a major reason kids are walking away from the faith when they leave high school. The Nehemiah Institute which conducts the PEERS Test examines Biblical worldview. It determined that the longer children remain in public schools the more humanistic, and socialistic their worldview becomes.
We can't just drop our kids off at church and expect them to be spiritual champions.
How much more must we be concerned dropping our children off in a humanistic, anti-Christian government school for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week?
Home School Heroes.
James Dobson was instrumental in sparking the modern home school movement. In the late 70's and early 80s, the late Dr. Raymond Moore, author of "School Can Wait," and Better Late than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education," became a proponent for teaching children at home during their most critical years. Dobson, helped launch the modern home school movement when he had Dr. Moore and his wife Dorothy as guests on his radio program.
Focus on the Family's impact among Christians is remarkable. The Truth Project, a worldview ministry launched by Focus on the Family is one of the best resources available to come alongside the church and begin to equip Christians in the church to think biblically on every issue of life.
When my church went through the Truth Project, it was the first time I had heard people being excited about how the Bible applies to the culture, to education, to the family, to history and much more. A family in my church with three young children, chose to home school their children after going through the Truth Project and viewing a video on home schooling with Del Tackett (The Truth Project creator, and Senior Vice president of Focus). The father was a public school teacher.
The Public School Option?
It is not easy finding fault with an organization that has done so much to promote home schooling, and Christian education.
Times of great crisis require a clear message, and certain trumpet sound. With all that Focus on the Family has been doing for home schooling, they are sending mixed messages on the necessity of k-12 Christian education. Last February when Justice H. Walter Croskey in the 2nd district Court of Appeals ruled, "parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children." (Feb 28th), Focus on the Family had a two part series on education.
Dr. Dobson came out strong describing the Courts ruling as "an assault on the family, and that it must be met with a concerted effort to defend parents and their children," He had a great broadcast with Michael Farris of the HSLDA.
The first broadcast, however, was anemic. Three educational choices were given home schooling, public schooling and private or Christian schooling. The pros and cons of each were discussed and parents were urged to make the best choice for their situation.
The broadcast then referenced a book entitled, "The Handbook on Choosing Your Child's Education, A Personalized Plan for Every Age and Stage."(Published by Focus) The pros and cons of each "option" were given.
They prefaced the discussion with the following disclaimer," We won't tell you the "right answer" because only you can determine what that is." "Use this guide as a map to navigate through unfamiliar territory-right into the center of the best education choice for your child." (Handbook, p.12) All were presented as equally valid choices.
The Truth About Public Education
With the widespread effectiveness and popularity of The Truth Project, perhaps each staff member at Focus should enroll in the Truth Project, in order to learn the truth about public education.
Bruce Shortt in his book the Harsh Truth about Public Schools says, "About 85% of Christian children attend government schools, but the message that Christian parents are obligated to provide a Christian education is seldom heard from the pulpit."
"Our God is a jealous God. We may not put other gods before Him, and we cannot be double minded in the way we live our lives. Plainly an education that attempts to distance itself from a commitment to Christianity, and to treat all religious beliefs as equal, is profoundly anti-Christian."
Shortt continues, "Parents are directed to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Moreover, their obligation is not to instruct their children in the Word occasionally, but to do so all of the time (Deut 6:6) yet today, most Christian parents behave as if there are passages in the Bible instructing them to give the education of their children over to anti-christian government schools and telling them that exposing their children to Christianity two or three hours a week is sufficient." (Bruce Shortt, The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, p.21) (www.chalcedon.edu)
Only one hundred hours a year of AWANA, VBS, and Sunday school does not fulfill Deuteronomy 6, and is no match for 1,000 hours of seat time in the pagan public schools, year after year after year. Our children are losing their saltiness and their light is being extinguished.
The Future for Focus on the Family.
With 80 to 85 percent of Christian children attending public schools and roughly the same number of pastors supportive of public education, it is easy to see why Focus is reluctant to criticize public schools. Times are tough for parachurch ministries, and with the struggling economy, giving may be hurt.
In a Time magazine report early this year, Dobson's monthly newsletter was reported to have a circulation of 2.4 million copies in 1994, and today has 1.1 million. Jim Daly, CEO talks about the ministries expenses, "The ministries expenses have exceeded its revenues for two years-what Daly calls a drawdown from reserves." The total donations and number of donors is also down. (Time magazine, Jan 24, 2008)
Focus on the family is currently carried by the force and strength of Dobson's credibility and personality and many years of good service in the past.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly why Focus continues to provide spiritual cover for parents who send their children into our failing and spiritually dangerous public schools. However, without some recognition of this error, and repentance on their part they may lose their leadership role as a family ministry when the Dobson era ends.
In 2008 the situation in California and our nation is much more precarious, since Dobson made his statements on California schools. A firestorm of events has since occurred in California making it ground zero in the culture war.
1. SB 777 mandated the teaching of homosexuality to children as young as kindergarten.
2. Justice H. Walter Croskey in the 2nd district Court of Appeals ruled, "parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children."
3. The California Supreme Court overturned the will of the people, attempting to create a right for same sex marriage in California.
Many pro-family advocates believe that if the marriage battle is lost in California that same sex marriage will spread from state to state engulfing the nation.
While the referendum is important, what happens when twenty five years later, a new batch of public school trained, indoctrinated voters rise up in California to reverse it? Christians must develop a long-term vision, one which seeks to turn children into spiritual champions, and it starts with K-12 Christian education.
Right now numerous ministries and organizations are working together to remove several hundred thousand children from California public schools before the Sept 2008 school year resumes. (www.CaliforniaExodus.org)
Focus on Your Family Education
Imperfections and all, Dr. Dobson remains a leading voice in American Christendom, and America still has his ear as he continues to be a blessing to many.
In these perilous times, America is in need of a Joshua. With Focus' influence and voice, Dobson could help lead American Christians into the promised land of home education and Christian education, overcoming the national crisis.
Will Focus on the Family be like those in Israel who failed to enter the Promised Land because of unbelief? (Hebrews 3:19)
Focus must call for the removal of our precious children from public schools, especially in California. Perhaps this will spark a national exodus. The new school year is upon us. The time to act is now.
It's time to heed Dr. Dobson's prophetic words, and focus on your family education.
"Those who control what young people are taught, and what they experience-what they see, hear, think and believe-will determine the future course for the nation."
James Dobson (Children at Risk, p.27)
Nicholas A. Jackson
Nick assists pro-life and pro-family ministries in Ohio. He is a 1997 graduate of Ohio University, and member of Phi Beta Kappa. Additionally, he spends time as a free-lance writer articulating the Christian worldview for our culture.
"and they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in." Isaiah 58:12
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