May 4, 2013
COMMON CORE: OUR DESTRUCTION OR OUR OPPORTUNITY
From a Latter-day Saint Perspective
Part 1: America
by Joyce Kinmont
America was formed as a Christian country. All religions were welcome and free to practice their religion, but America was Christian. She was not to be an Anglican country or a Catholic country or a Buddhist country, but a Bible-based Christian country. Our Founders were clear about this — the most quoted source in their writings is the Bible. Their message is permanently preserved in our founding documents and in the architecture of our early American buildings and monuments: The national Capitol building itself is replete with messages; the Ten Commandments are chiseled on the Supreme Court building; scriptures are engraved on our monuments to Washington and Lincoln and others. And the entire pattern for a Christian life is revealed in a little known but very large monument in Plymouth. I wonder if it was hidden there for our day.
American education was always about Christianity. Harvard, our first university (1636), expected nothing less than Christian scholarship: “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus which is eternal life, John. 17:3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. . . . Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such and account of his proficiency therein.”
Yale (1701/1718) proclaimed itself a college “for the liberal and religious education of suitable youth” and required: “Seeing God is the giver of all wisdom, every scholar, besides private or secret prayer . . . shall be present morning and evening at public prayer.”
And Princeton (1746) said succinctly: “Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.”
Of the first 106 American universities, 103 were founded by ministers. (see David Barton, Education and the Founding Fathers, Wallbuilders)
For children in early America education and religion were synonymous. So, also, was it in Christ’s childhood. Our Bible Dictionary tells us, under Education: “The ‘religious question’ could not exist in Jewish education any more than in Church schools today, for the whole purpose of education was religious. Nothing was regarded as worth learning except as it illustrated scripture.” So also, was it in early Utah where all churches had their own schools. Even after tax-supported schools came as a condition of statehood in Utah, Bible reading and a Christian feeling continued for some time.
Early Americans recognized that everything oppressive that had happened in the Old World happened because people did not have access to the Bible, and that everything changed once the could read the scriptures for themselves. The first school law in America, passed in 1642, was called “Ye Old Deluder Satan Act.” “It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the scriptures, as in former time . . .” We could say that education to enable citizens to read scripture was the primary national security plan.
In the 1770’s America was forced by the mother country’s abuse of power to stand and declare her right to liberty through the Declaration of Independence (which was also a declaration of their dependence on God). Then American citizens fought for the rights of free men, rights established and ordained by God. Shortly after the War for Independence was won, Americans recognized the need for a charter or constitution to establish and declare the role of government.
In 1787 a Constitutional Convention was called in Philadelphia. (Heaven help us if we try to do that now!) Deliberations began on May 25 and ended with the signing of the new Constitution on September 17 (a day few pause to remember). The First Congress of the United States of America was seated on March 4, 1789, and on April 30 (another sacred day) George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States. As he held his hand on the Bible and kissed it, some people believe that he, like Moses him and Lincoln after him, made a covenant with God that so long as the people would served God, God would protect and bless the land. (see Timothy Ballard, America’s Sacred Covenant)
What a celebration these formative years on earth must have cause beyond the veil! Where were we? Were we watching President Washington from somewhere, gathered around Moroni, waiting for what we knew was soon to come? Thirty one years later all was ready, and Moroni stepped into a humble home in America to begin teaching young Joseph Smith. Did we shout for joy, and our children with us?
In the December 2012 Ensign Elder Perry wrote:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly a worldwide Church. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that the Church could never have become what it is today without the birth of a great nation, the United States of America. The Lord prepared a new land to attract the peoples of the world who sought liberty and religious freedom. This new land was blessed with strong leaders who felt duty bound to establish a government that allowed individuals to worship according to their own conscience.
“The Founding Fathers of the United States believed that religious faith was fundamental to the establishment of strong government. Many people in the world, however, have forgotten the central importance of religious beliefs in the formation of the policies, laws, and rules of government. Many Americans, for example, do not understand that the founders believed the role of religion would be as important in our day as it was in their day. The founders did not consider religion and morality an intellectual exercise—they forcefully declared it an essential ingredient of good government and the happiness of humankind. . . .
“The United States is the promised land foretold in the Book of Mormon—a place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the birth of the United States of America that ushered out the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just a few decades after the establishment of the United States.”
Everything . . . absolutely everything of value to us and to our Savior was riding on the United States and the guarantee of religious liberty. We whose scriptures recognize the Constitution as a sacred doctrine are particular stewards of religious liberty. How important would it be, then, that the true story of liberty be passed down from parent to child through all generations? How significant, how costly would be the loss of that knowledge to our posterity? And how would that loss multiply over the years?
Sadly, we all know that America is in trouble. We feel it in our hearts. Does it not seem obvious that what brought us to the edge of the precipice on which we now stand — and over which we may soon tumble — is the cessation of the teaching of true Americanism in America’s families and schools — and the opportunity that gave Satan to fill the void?
Enough generations have gone untaught that there are few people today who know the founders’ story or the critical importance of religion or the proper role of government well enough to effectively teach the upcoming generations or repair our government.
Elder Perry said, “As I read and watch the news each day, I am shocked at the difficulties we are creating for ourselves. As times and conditions change and become more complex, there seem to be fewer and fewer individuals capable of shouldering the responsibilities of leading positive change.” His sentiments were originally given in a Jan 2012 Devotional at BYUI, so I assume he wrote them in late 2011. Is he watching better news stories today?
Yet, it may just be that the flame of liberty is being kindled again. Maybe we need adversity to fan the fire. Would the Revolutionary War ever have happened if the King of England had not violated the principle of citizen representation? From that attempt at unrighteous control came “the times that try men’s souls,” the travail which birthed a free nation with a sacred Constitution meant for the blessing of all men (see D&C 101:76-80).
President Benson sometimes spoke of America as “the Lord’s base of operations.” He used that expression in the early 70’s when he dedicated a chapel in Pleasant Grove UT and said, “The first rule of warfare is to protect your base of operations.” American Latter-day Saints have a particular responsibility to know and protect the Constitution and the Lord’s gospel base.
The enemy of God and Liberty and Agency is Lucifer, himself, and he is a clever devil. Surely he didn’t simply show up for that one grand council in pre-mortality with a brilliant new plan; surely our struggle with him had been going on for some time. That last battle in pre-mortality over whether there would be agency on this earth is a battle we won! President Benson would tell us to continue to fight – and we will win again!
But what does winning mean? Does it means we are to reclaim a religious education for our children? Does it mean we have to become different kinds of learners and teachers? Does it mean recognizing the damage done to our children and our country by God-less education? Does it mean finding ways of healing that damage and reclaiming the wounded? Does it mean taking responsibility for our children’s upbringing, becoming less dependent on government and more dependent upon God? Does it mean we must be willing to pay whatever price is extracted of us?
Our precious gifts from God — religious liberty, traditional marriage, parental authority, private property, the right to bear arms, and so much more — are all vital to our survival as a free and religious people. In this paper we are particularly concerned with just one issue, the unconstitutional nationalization of education and the absolute control over curriculum, testing, teachers, students, and family by the elements of Common Core. That is what we will discuss in Part 2, coming soon.
For family study and discussion:
1. Please learn about the Matrix of Liberty monument which sets out the pattern for a Christian life. It is amazing. Search on line to rent, download, or purchase the documentary Monumental: The Search for America’s Greatest Treasure. The documentary begins with the story of the Pilgrims as I’ve never heard it taught before, which will cause us to search the depth of our faith and courage. Then the movie explains the story the monument tells. From it we see God’s plan for us.
Here’s a blog my daughter found about the monument although it doesn’t talk about the meaning of it. For that, you need to watch Monumental. Please!
2. Then you might want to watch two episodes of The Joseph Smith Papers on BYUTV: Joseph Smith The Statesman and Joseph Smith for President. And if you want to keep going, watch Land, Joseph, & “Justice” in Missouri, The Pure Religion of Joseph Smith, and others — Legal issues are hidden here and there.
3. Search the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants for the principles and lessons on education and government.
4. Introduce your family to history teacher Stan Ellsworth of American Ride, on byutv.org. Stan rides his motorcycle to historic sites; he is a great storyteller.
5. Visit the LatterDayConservative.org website, under Articles, where you will find much good information from prophets. This is not a church website so I can’t necessarily endorse everything on it. The three below are probably also on lds.org; I just happened to find them on this site and thought they would be a good start for family study:
The Constitution, A Heavenly Banner by President Ezra Taft Benson
The Divinely Inspired Constitution by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Joseph Smith: Campaign for President of the United States an Ensign article by Arnold K. Garr, Feb 2009, 48–52.
6. If you want to know more about Joseph Smith’s candidacy, here are some articles from the BYU website.