Differences between a secular and a religious – Jewish or Christian – education, by Dennis Prager
Anyone who thinks of the current civil war in America realizes that it is, to a large extent, a war between religious and anti-religious. The left despises evangelical Protestants, traditional Catholics and Orthodox Jews for good reason: they represent everything the left hates; and while there are, of course, secular conservatives fighting the left, the biggest and most effective opposition comes from conservative Christians and Jews.
The differences start in childhood. Most religious children – especially those who attend traditional Christian and Jewish schools – are brought up with different values than most secular children.
Here are some examples:
N ° 1: Religious education: Fight yourselves. Secular education: Fighting society.
I studied at the yeshiva (Orthodox Jewish school, where I studied the Bible and other religious subjects in Hebrew half the day, and half the day I studied secular subjects in English) of kindergarten in the final year. I learned early on that the biggest problem in Dennis Prager’s life was Dennis Prager. In almost all secular schools and liberal religious schools, children learn that the biggest problem in their lives is American society – indeed, anything other than themselves.
What do you think makes a more self-critical, more controlled and overall better human being?
What do you think makes a more angry and less happy human being?
# 2: Religious Education: Learn Wisdom. Secular education: No body of wisdom transmitted.
I have no doubt that most children brought up with the Bible and other Jewish or Christian works have more wisdom than almost any secular teacher or other secular intellectual. Yes, there are secular individuals who have wisdom (the Judeo-Christian wisdom body sometimes continues to have influence for a generation or two), but I cannot think of a single secular institution with wisdom. This is why the institutions with the least wisdom and which believe and teach the most nonsense are the universities – they are, after all, the most secular institutions in our society.
# 3: Religious Education: People are not inherently good. Secular Education: People are basically good.
“Wisdom begins,” the Psalms and Proverbs teach, “with the fear of God”. In other words, no God, no wisdom. But there is another way to assert how and where wisdom begins. Wisdom begins by recognizing how imperfect human nature is. Or, to put it as succinctly as you can, you can’t be wise if you think people are basically good. You can be a gentle, kind, well-meaning person if you think people are basically good, but you can’t be wise. Indeed, you are more likely to be a naive jerk.
The belief that people are basically good, a belief that neither Judaism nor Christianity ever had, is a major obstacle to building a good society. On the one hand, parents who believe it won’t discipline their kids as much as they should. They will assume, as three generations of American parents now do, that all a child needs is love. And on the other hand, people who believe that human nature is good are much less inclined to punish criminals because they will blame murder, robbery, rape and other evils on economic circumstances, parents and others. society – on everything except the criminal’s failure to control his imperfect nature.
N ° 4: Religious education: Holy days. Secular education: No holy days.
Religious children celebrate holy days – the Sabbath each week and other holy days in their respective religious calendars. Regular time devoted to the Transcendent has a major impact on a child’s development. The secular child has secular vacations, but they don’t mean much to most young Americans. July 4th is a day off with a barbecue. Meaningless Halloween has become more important than meaningful Christmas. Presidents’ Day means nothing. And Thanksgiving is increasingly being declared Indigenous Peoples Genocide Day.
N ° 5: Religious education: Friends and community. Secular education: friends, but no community.
Loneliness is a bigger pandemic in the modern world than COVID-19, so much so that the UK now has a Minister for Loneliness to try to tackle the problem.
This is, to a large extent, another consequence of secularism. Religious Jewish and Christian children (including Mormons) grow up with an abundance of friends and a whole religious community through religious school and through their synagogue or church. What is the communal lay equivalent of church, synagogue and religious school? Apart from sport (which, in any case, is only accessible to a handful of young people who play in a team), there is none.
N ° 6: Religious education: The obligation to honor parents. Secular education: no such obligation.
Religious Jewish and Christian children learn the Ten Commandments, one of which is “Honor your father and your mother.” It goes without saying that many lay children honor their parents, but they only do so if they want to. Religious children are told to honor their parents whether they want to or not, which is important because very few children still want to honor their mother and father.
There is another pandemic in America – that of adult children who have decided never to speak to one or both of their parents. I would bet a large sum of money that few of these grown children are Jews or religious Christians.
There is much more that distinguishes religious and secular education. But one spring: religious children are generally happier.
Is one education better than the other? You decide.
Dennis Prager is a nationally broadcast radio talk show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible”, a commentary on the Book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces”, was released in the home entertainment world on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and can be contacted at dennisprager.com.
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