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God and country in 1941: An NEA 'coming out' party

By Steve Farrell
web posted July 11, 2005

When I think of organizations that have worked long and hard to undermine the religious heritage of this great nation of ours – especially in the minds of our children – few can match the record of the National Education Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In fact their record is so bad that if the Second Coming were to occur in a public classroom today, the former would insist that a cadre of psychologists swarm in on the community to undue the damage to children, teachers, and family before the school could open again, while the latter would put a restraining order on the Savior, and bring suit against the security guards for letting Him through the doorway.

But it wasn't always that way, at least not for the National Education Association. Proof being that in 1941 they published a little gem called The American Citizens Handbook. It was written for the Committee on New Voter Preparation and Recognition, to prepare children and their parents, immigrants and lifetime residents, for this grave, yet wonderful responsibility we call citizenship.

I feel confident were it republished today it would be banned from the classroom, and shouted down by their reviewers as a pack of dangerous lies. Here's why. Let me quote from the Foreword:

To be a good father, mother, brother, sister, or friend;
To be a dependable, faithful, and skilled worker in home, school, field, factory, or office;
To be an intelligent, honest, useful, and loyal citizen, with faith in God and love of fellowman;
To recognize the brotherhood of man and to live by the Golden Rule –

These are the aspirations that have brought happiness and achievement to the America we all love. These are the aspirations that must help us find our way to new glory and grace in the midst of worldwide change. A great civilization must have roots in the soil of the past and its branches reaching to the stars of the future. Otherwise, it lacks the experience and motive necessary for noble achievement in the present. Has the nation lost its way? Let us return again to the faith of its youth. This faith is found at its best in the lives and writings of great leaders who have quickened and purified the national spirit.

God, the Golden Rule, faith, grace, the traditional family, nobility, moral purity, these are the roots of our glory, and lacking these our motives, achievements and national spirit will become tainted, our hopes of reaching to the stars in the future, dashed?

Heaven forbid!

Let's move to chapter one, paragraph two. Here we are informed that the people of this nation possess "an inspiring … mighty gift such as the people of no other continent enjoy, God-given and eternal."

The text then breaks into a chorus of Katherine Lee Bates, "America the Beautiful," with the prayer that "God shed his grace on thee."

I should hope so.

Then in an unforgivable spirit of flag-waving jingoism and fairytale-itis the handbook speaks of "Our Heritage of Leadership," described as a "mighty heritage that has come to us in the memory of great deeds performed by pioneer men and women who have established this mighty nation."

And then it gets worse.

Under "Charters of American Liberty," it goes so far as to say that "Beyond the heritage which is found in the lives of the men and women who have made America, stands the Republic itself, the greatest example of constitutional government among free men."

The crème de la crème isn't unloaded, however, until the eighth paragraph of the first chapter, where the NEA identifies the foundation principles of this "greatest single document in the entire struggle of mankind for orderly self government." Under the heading "Religious Ideals the Foundation" we read:

It is difficult to read this history without seeing in it the hand of Providence, for the struggle which was then taking place in America was in a sense the climax of untold centuries of human struggle upward, a struggle against despotism, against the destructive forces within the nature of man himself. The birth of our democracy [he is referring to social democracy in the setting of a constitutional republic] is the result of the teachings of religious leaders going back hundreds of years. Democracy finds its fullest expression in the roots of religion, which has ever emphasized the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man. For democracy to reach its highest fruition, our society must include that larger liberty and justice preached so eloquently by the Hebrew Prophets and by Jesus.

It is upon the Foundation of this Higher Law, the handbook concludes at this point, that our "Constitution …[stands] between us and chaos, between us and a return to the brutalities and confusion of earlier centuries."

I read the above quotes to my 14 year old last evening. Her instant, uncoached response was a sarcastic, "Boy have we come a long way!" Indeed.

More on the contents of this 'dangerous' citizens handbook next time.

NewsMax pundit Steve Farrell is associate professor of political economy at George Wythe College, press agent for Defend Marriage (a project of United Families International), and the author of the highly praised, inspirational novel, "Dark Rose" (available at amazon.com). Blog with Steve & friends at LibertyLetters.blogspot.com, for a daily dose of the Founders. Contact Steve.

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