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Should Christians send their kids to non-Christian schools?

January 4, 2009

Okay folks, I’m looking for your wisdom and insight here.

I’m subscribed to the ‘Linux for Christians’ mailing list (don’t ask!). A few days ago somebody posted this article, which is about a man in America who is on a crusade to get Christian parents to take their children out of the public school system.

I replied to the post (the whole thread begins here) and the conversation seems to have taken off.

Trudy and I happily send our kids to a public school, and we’re both very involved there. It seems, however, my approach to the matter isn’t in vogue amongst the more vocal members of the list.  The discussion has been going on a few days now, and I’d like to get some feedback from any reader with any insight.

  • Is the public education system in the US as bad as it’s made out to be?
  • Is there any evidence of a conspiracy by the ‘liberals’ to wrest control of children from their parents, especially Christians?
  • How dangerous is a public school to the faith of Christian kids? How does it compare in Christian schools? What about home-schooled children?
  • How does the faith of young Christians fare after they leave the various educational systems?
  • How would these questions be answered in Australia?
  • Is it a legitimate expression of mission for Christians to send their children to public schools?
  • Is it fair to include our children in our mission this way?
  • How should children view the ideas of mission and evangelism?
  • Should we abandon the school system to the ‘evil liberals?’
  • What do we do with Christian kids who don’t come from Christian families?

I realise a lot of the answers to these questions will begin with ‘It depends…’ Still, I’d love to hear your responses.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Joanne permalink
    January 5, 2009 1:35 am

    send my children to a public school. I am involved there as well.So i must be wrong as well. The school has a chaplain and we are one of the few schools who every year presents a nativity play. We are a multicultural school and those that don’t celebrate christmas are supervised while the rest of the school practise the play.Ii find the school a mission field. everyone knows i am a christian and that has opened up many opportunities. eg. When a 4 day old baby died of cot death, and they didn’t know what to do – a simple phone call to my CO who was able to advise and counsel them. I have had many opportunities to spread the good news of Jesus.I think the most amazing thing that happened to me last year, was being called into the principals office (no i wasn’t in trouble). He needed someone to talk to (the chaplain wasnt there). i was able to listen as he expressed some concern over his son who had become suicidal due to a relationship breakup.
    I realsie this isn’t a normal thing to happen. However, i don’t believe i would have this opportunity if my children went to a private school. THis is just my own opinion of course.

    The other reason for sending my kids to public school is that it costs me $26 for the year for both kids to go to public school

  2. John Duthie permalink
    January 5, 2009 11:54 am

    I see the biggest factor with the ‘success’ of a child’s education is the character of the parents.

    2nd factor is choice between private and public. Public schools cannot compete with the quality of the education provided by private schools.

    There are also some great public schools and some ordinary private schools too, but overall private has greater advantages.

    I spent all my schooling in public school system, did very well, however I send my 2 children to a private Christian school.

    I don’t mind investing $$$$$ in my children, as its like an investment that will mature in the future ( hopefully ! ), and its worth working that little bit harder to give them opportunties later in life.

    I like to protect my children up to a certain level, but believe its important for them to know what dangers lie in the world, without getting them too stressed out. When I was growing up my parents and my school appeared to hide anything which was dangerous from myself, and when i became an adult I don’t believe I was ready to face the world and its dangers.

  3. January 8, 2009 12:19 am

    Hey Cam,

    One of my jobs in the past was as a school’s presenter for the Values 4 Life program, and it’s director, Shane Varcoe would be good for you to talk to on this issue. The bible calls us to be “in the world, not of the world” to be a “light in the darkness” – we should not hide our lights under a bushell. As a result of these biblical principles, Shane and his wife decided to send their children to a public school, and use their homelife to teach them to be missionaries within the public school system. Their children are stable, intelligent and have achieved much both personally and scholastically as a result of their stable upbringing!

    I went to a Christian Primary School – my parents toyed with sending me to a Christian or Catholic High School, however, I’m now very glad that they did not. Throughout my time at High School, I was able to learn and to face temptations, peer pressure, tolerance of other beliefs, and mostly, to stand firm on what I believed, It strengthened my faith, it did not hinder it. I was also able to bring many of my High School friends into relationships with Christians – some have as a result attended church.

    Much of the success of Planetshakers and other big churches has been directly attributed to young Christians attending public schools and bringing their friends along to church. In fact, I know one young Salvo guy who asked his parents to take him out of a Christian school and put him in a Public School so he could be a “witness” to his peers. This is healthy!!

    I urge you to keep going, to continue on with your children’s public education. Use the home to give them a solid foundation, and teach them to use their voices in a wise and holy way.

    Be blessed!

    Sare xox

  4. Cameron permalink
    March 13, 2009 12:51 pm

    Hi folks,

    I’ve written a follow up to this post. Feel free to have a read and leave a comment or five.

    Thanks for joining in!

  5. Izabella permalink
    August 28, 2009 4:04 am

    I am a mother of 2 – both of my girls go to a ‘very good’ public school here in Australia where scripture is optional, however, it ‘is’ taught weekly. I can understand both sides, however, I wish to say to John Duthie, I don’t know about your US school system here, however, I cannot help, ‘dislike very much’ the fact that our Government gives plenty of funds to the local Christian High School & then the High School charges well over $$$$$$$ per year from the parents? THEN, there is school uniform, text books, excursions on top of that. Congratulations that you choose to invest such amounts of money into your children, but please remember: there are plenty of parents who have had children that ‘genuinly’ cannot afford to send their children to Christian schools. Is it ‘Christian like in action’ to request parents pay the amounts of money requested for their children to ‘be allowed’ to go to a Christian School Mr Duthie? I am believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I myself have heard another ‘Christian’ parent say: ‘oh well you know, sending your children to a private school sorts out the ‘riff from the raff’……!! “RIFF FROM THE RAFF”? Are we not to be a light to others & be an example of what ‘not to do’ instead of putting ourselves up on a pedestale as if those who go to private Christian school are ‘holier than thou’? & what about the many thousands & thousand of parents who genuinly want to send their children to a Christian influenced school but because the fees requested, would put way to much pressure on the family? I believe, ‘all school’s should be equal’ teaching & bringing up children in the way of the Lord as our Lord Himself has taught us: ‘Teach a child in the way he should go & when he has grown, he shall not depart from it’ – I doubt very much the Christian High Schools are ‘teaching what they preach’ when we can’t even send them to the school in the first place becuase we just cannot afford to..and as for ‘taking a huuuuge debt’ to send them to the high school…I’m sorry sir, but my Lords Book tells me that ‘be in debt to no-body except to love them’….so, Mr Duthie, I wonder, by Christian High schools charging the amounts of money they do, to send your children where they have a ‘right’ to be taught anyway, is this a Christian example? Sure, you can believe & have Faith that the Lord will provide, but surely, wisdom says: ‘be a good steward of your money’ as well? I find it totally unfair of Christian High schools to ask for such large amount of funds from Parents when they already have plenty of funds being given to them via the Government!

  6. Izabella permalink
    August 28, 2009 4:17 am

    and to add to that, I have spoken to ‘many a parent’ that send their children to Christian High schools…’signing the Statement of Faith’ that their children will be taught..whom have shared directly with me, that ‘they themselves’ don’t believe in the statement of Faith, however they believe the the ‘education is better’ at a Christian School, which is a fallacy. Christian School Education has to adhere by a set of standards of teaching, like any other public school..i even work with a gentleman who sends his two children to a Christian primary school, not because he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, but because he believes the education is better! On the other hand, there are plenty of ‘believing parents’ that send their children to public schools –

  7. nahom permalink
    October 29, 2009 2:46 pm

    Dear sirs :
    as a christian should i send my son to the non christian schools ? and is ther any christian school in italy roma ?
    thanks for your co.operation GOD bless you

  8. Paula permalink
    April 23, 2010 9:21 pm

    I attended public school…good schools that prepared me well for college. If it hadn’t been for a girl I met in the 5th grade, I would not know Jesus. My family did not go to church. I knew nothing of the Bible. I made freinds with a new girl in my class. Her famiy pointed me to Jesus. She was the salt and the light to me. What is left if we take away the salt and the light? 5th grade…yes, we are witnesses for the Lord the moment we receive Christ. In John 17 Jesus prayed for the disciples protection in this world from the enemy…because God did not want to take them home yet. They had work to do. God will protect those who faithfully serve him. Education is the responisiblity of the parent. Education should be occuring at home even for public school kids. Parents need to disciple their children and teach them to abide in Christ through the adversity they face. That is what they will need once they are grown and on their own- knowledge of how to serve and trust God in this depraved world.

  9. Keziah permalink
    June 17, 2010 2:49 pm

    I would like to also reply to Mr Duthie.
    I am a tecaher who recently left a private ‘Christian school’ where most of the children did not actually even attend church. It seemed to me that they were actually there because there parents were more interested in letting others know that they could afford to send their children to a private school rather than actually realising that the whole idea is to learn more about their walk with Christ. The school itself had lost that whole essence and instead was ruled by parents who threatened to take their children out if the teacher had given their child the F they deserved for not handing an assignment in.
    For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1Titus 6:10). Unfortunately educating a child based on the amount of money their parents are able to pay goes against the very nature of what Christianity is about. Jesus went out to help the poor and the lost. How are we supposed to help the poor and the lost when we say they are not welcome to be educated unless they cough up the dough!
    I was not very strong in my faith until this year. Being at that school would have turned me off my faith completely if it had not have been for a co-worker who had started that year also and who helped me see the difference between a person who wants to portray a Christian character and attend church in their finest clothes and look down on others who do not have a car as fine as theirs and a true Christian who feels compassion with other people’s suffering.
    I am nto saying that people with wealth are bad people…not at all…I am saying that we need to be really careful about where we place our focus when things of this world distract us, such as money.
    There are children in all schools who need guidance, whether private or public, but money is no substitute for christian character.
    It is good to remember that Mary probably wouldn’t have been able to affird to send Jesus to a private school. The discipples that Jesus chose were ordinary working class men, like Peter, who would not have afforded a private school education either. In fact the usual young men who were sent off to be educated in tose days with the intentions that they would become a student to a Rabi were not the types of scholars that Jesus chose. Please remember that raw life experience and often people who would be judged harshly in our society today such as prositutes and murderers even, were the people who were some of the most passionate followers of Christ while he was alive and after his death. For example, Mary Magdelene and Paul
    It is important for us to remember that as Christians we are to bring the lost to Christ and the lost are not necessarily people withOUT money as Jesus told us it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Not that all rich people are bad in character and do not love the Lord (as there is nothing wrong with having wealth), but that the love of money can with some people overtake their love for Christ.

  10. Keziah permalink
    June 17, 2010 2:51 pm

    PS I need to apologise for the mistakes with my grammar and typos in the previous reply…I was in a rush! DON”T Judge me!! lol

  11. John Duthie permalink
    November 21, 2010 9:19 am

    Its interesting that I found this page after a few years of making the original statement, and reading a few of the responses I feel that one person is angry at schools which charge fees, however the anger is now being re-directed at myself !

    There was also an assumption made about my country, which was incorrect… but I guess the facts do not matter when in a rush to attack other people. I live in Australia !

    One comment left was “Is it ‘Christian like in action’ to request parents pay the amounts of money requested for their children to ‘be allowed’ to go to a Christian School Mr Duthie?”

    So your test of whether something is ‘Christian like in action’ is whether the something charges money ? Thats a rather interesting viewpoint. I pity the Christians who roll up to the gates of Heaven and get rejected if they’ve earned any money in their life time, they should have done it for free to be ‘Christian like in action’, and you agree that non-Christians go to Hell.

    The same person mentioned “I’m sorry sir, but my Lords Book tells me that ‘be in debt to no-body except to love them’….so, Mr Duthie, I wonder, by Christian High schools charging the amounts of money they do, to send your children where they have a ‘right’ to be taught anyway, is this a Christian example?” You do have a hang up about money ! I hope you don’t have a home loan, because a loan is a debt. I hope you’ve never asked for a service, or some goods and have paid later, because that is also a debt. Practice what you preach.

    Same person mentions “I find it totally unfair of Christian High schools to ask for such large amount of funds from Parents when they already have plenty of funds being given to them via the Government!”… and you are entitled to your opinion, why couldn’t you allow myself to give my opinion without the attack on my character ?

    All tax payers have the right for funds to be given to the school for education purposes in which their children attend. If parents wish to pay more for the education then this is also a right, if other parents do not wish to pay more money then that is their choice. I’d estimate that the average income of parents who send their children to private schools is higher than those parents that send their children to public schools, and to be totally fair, more tax money should be going back into the private schools !

    And finally I would like to own a new porsche, however I cannot afford to do this, and it doesn’t help my situation to complain to other porsche owners about the unfair situation, it would however make me look like a wally.

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