Constitutional Corner – The Founders’ Worldview Continued
Last week I conjectured that if there appears to be a disconnect between a Congressmen’s statement of faith and his or her voting record, the problem may lay in their worldview. A worldview is the “lens” through which you view the world. Worldviews are complex, constantly shifting as new information is processed, and reflect only the experiences and information to which we have individually been exposed.
Few individuals have any idea what their worldview consists of or how it lines up with certain “classical” or topical worldviews. Of the 492 of the 535 Congressmen who claim to be Christian (the 92%), I’m certain that only a handful have taken the time to assess whether or not they have a Christian or Biblical worldview to go along with their statement of faith. For that matter, how many of the 78% of Americans who claim to be Christian have done so?
The worldview of Americans has been changing, as I will vividly demonstrate in a moment. The chief reasons for this change have been changes in the curriculum of our public schools and the declining influence of Christianity in our culture. Approximately 89% of children attend public schools, so the influence of that curriculum is widespread. Children in public schools spend the major part of each weekday under the influence of that curriculum; parents who hold different views on certain topics than what is infused in the public school curriculum face an uphill battle in trying to counter the influence on their children.
Public school textbook monitors for more than 50 years have been warning of the growing presence of socialist and even communist doctrine in our public school textbooks. As students who have been taught using this curriculum themselves return to the classroom as teachers, the effect becomes even more pervasive and persuasive.
Socialism, environmentalism, communalism, one-world government doctrine and other influences have replaced patriotism, individualism, capitalism, and republicanism (i.e. our form of government). As a result, America is changing; and many would contend, not for the better. In fact, some contend we stand on the brink of cultural collapse. Which will arrive first: cultural collapse or economic collapse?
One reason few Americans have any idea what their worldview consists of lies in the lack of ways to measure it. How do you go about measuring the amalgamation of personal views on hundreds of topics? And how would you do so in an analytical way that allows comparisons from individual to individual and group to group? One way would be to construct an assessment instrument, a test, that measures your view on certain representative topics. I’m aware of only one organization: Nehemiah Institute, that has taken the time and effort to construct such a test.
Called the PEERS™ test, which stands for its five main topic areas: Political, Economic, Educational, Religious and Social, the PEERS™ test consists of 70 questions which measure the extent to which you agree or disagree with key worldview statements. The test takes less than 10 minutes to administer and results in a numerical score that determines the extent to which you hold to a Christian, Moderately Christian, Secular Humanist or Socialist worldview.
Nehemiah Institute has been administering this same PEERS™ test to public and private school children since 1988. The results are alarming, as this graph vividly shows.
Public school students, which began in 1988 with a largely secular humanist worldview, have been trending downward ever since towards a completely socialist worldview. This is not unexpected, given the changes in public school curriculum that have been taking place over the last 50 years. More alarming are the results of students attending traditional Christian schools. Their results, which began well below what would be considered a Biblical worldview, have followed the trend of the public schools; today’s Christian School student sees the world nearly identically to the way a typical public school student sees the world. Yes, they may attend church more regularly, but when asked questions on economics, politics, social issues, even their religion, the Christian school student’s answers are often indistinguishable from those of the public school student. One explanation for this is found in the textbooks of Christian schools, which in many cases are identical to those used in public schools. Another explanation is to be found in Christian school teachers who, despite statements of faith in Christ, do not hold a comprehensive Biblical worldview – and don’t realize it because they have not taken the effort to assess their worldview.
One glimmer of hope on the chart above lies in the very small percentage of Christian schools which have purposefully structured their curriculum to reflect a comprehensive Biblical worldview. Their students, understandably, score reasonably well on the PEERS™ test, and have been even showing slight improvement over the years.
Home schooled children score in the middle, as might be expected due to the wide variety of curriculum employed.
This explains, I think, how in 2015 we can have 92% of our Congressmen and women claim to be Christians and yet draft and pass legislation that I’m convinced would never have passed the very first Congress. On March 4, 1789, as the first Congress took their brightly polished seats, if they had been administered todays PEERS™ test, I think by and large they would have scored pretty well. Granted, we might have to explain some terminology they would encounter (ex: “fractional reserve banking.” The Founders knew well the principles of fractional reserve banking, I don’t believe the term had been invented yet or was in widespread use), but I think the Founders results would have demonstrated…, well I don’t want to give everything away here.
I will go into much greater detail on how I think the Founders would have done on the PEERS™ test this Monday night, 18 May, at the Foundation for American Christian Education when I present “Do you have a Founders Worldview?” The Foundation is at 4225 Portsmouth Blvd, Chesapeake, VA. The lecture is from 6:30-8:30 pm and will be livestreamed for those outside the local area. If you would like to attend, either in the Foundation’s classroom or via Livestream, advance registration is required. Go to http://www.face.net/event/FoundersWorldview. There is a nominal charge.
If you would like to see how you would probably score on the PEERS™ test, you can do so at Pillars of the World.
The WFYL “Constitution Matters” panel will be discussing this issue Friday morning, 7-8am EDT. You can listen to the live broadcast via www.1180wfyl.com. Click on “Listen Live.”
Gary Porter is Executive Director of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., a project to inform Americans about the Founders’ view of their Constitution. Comments on this essay and ideas for future essays should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.