Humanism

To UNDERSTAND THE SECULAR VALUES the education establishment is actively promoting in our public schools, we need to review the humanistic movement in America that began in the nineteenth century. In 1876, former rabbi Dr. Felix Adler helped to establish the Society for Ethical Culture in New York City. This led to many other such societies that were later unified in the American Ethical Union, also founded by Adler, in 1889. The American Ethical Union was a seedbed for what would become "secular humanism," a philosophy that teaches that God does not exist, and that man is perfectible, selfsufficient and the measure of all things. By the early twentieth century, humanism had already begun to manifest itself in America's cultural institutions and public schools. In 1929, a former Baptist, then Unitarian preacher, Charles F. Potter, founded the First Humanist Society of New York. The next year, he wrote Humanism: A New Religion, which stated flatly, "Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?"

If humanism crept in as a natural byproduct of the secularism successfully promoted by Horace Mann in the public schools in the late nineteenth century, by the time America was in the Great Depression, it had achieved a level of mainstream acceptance in American culture. In 1933 the Humanist Manifesto was published and signed by thirtyfour national figures, bringing humanism to a level of prominence in American culture. Educator John Dewey was among the signatories of this document that rejected traditional Christian beliefs and endorsed, as an alternative, those of naturalism, materialism, rationalism, and socialism. The Humanist Manifesto expressed the humanists' goal: "to evaluate, transform, control, and direct all institutions and organizations by its own value system." As one writer has noted, the humanists' stated purpose was to effect a cultural revolution by substituting humanism for Christianity as the cultural foundation of America.

Through the years the humanists succeeded in a big way. They have made significant inroads into many of our cultural institutions, not least the education system. In education, humanism became a great motivator, the great cause to which educators could devote their lives by influencing students, and also provided a coherent organizing principle, giving education a larger purpose. John Dewey's books were practically mandatory reading in teacher training colleges, making humanism the mainstream philosophy of public education. Humanism, not posing as a traditional religion, could enforce its own values under the guise of neutrality and without much scrutiny. Its precepts have come to inform the entire public school curriculum, as meticulously documented by Samuel L. Blumenfeld's NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education. Yet, the strict separationists don't call education's endorsement of this values-driven worldview an encroachment on the Establishment Clause. That they don't reveals that their true interest lies in promoting secular values, rather than enforcing a strict separation of church and state.

Indeed, secular humanism is values-based. John Dewey described it as our "common faith." Canada's Christian Heritage Party leader Ron Gray observed, "We must not make the mistake of thinking that 'secular' means 'neutral: Secularism is a religious worldview, the most bigoted faith on earth: its goal is to extirpate every other faith." The first Humanist Manifesto referred to humanism as a religion. Even the United States Supreme Court, in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), recognized secular humanism as a religion: "Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God, are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others."

Humanist principles cannot be fairly be reconciled with Christian ones-they are "radically at war with biblical religion." Humanists themselves make this quite clear. In Humanist Manifesto III, released in 2003, they affirm their beliefs in the self-existence of nature, a denial of the supernatural, and the "finality of death." In fact, humanism subscribes to the notion that man's idea of religion itself was sparked by his interaction with the natural environment, as opposed to the distinctly Judeo-Christian view that God revealed Himself to man. Biologist and humanist Julian Huxley called it "Religion without Revelation." Moreover, humanism "affirm[s] that moral values derive their source from human experience and [not from God].

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