From one point of view, Who Owns the Children? is a manifesto of educational freedom, an exhaustively researched broadside aimed at the pseudo-academic pretensions of our federal and state governments. Starting from the premise that all instruction is by its very nature religious, since it necessarily springs from certain assumptions about man and the universe, the author proceeds painstakingly to indict the whole concept of compulsory education as a frontal attack on the First Amendment to our Constitution. Historically, to be sure, mandatory school attendance has not been seen as such, partly because it was pushed into place by Protestants foolishly squabbling with Catholics over educational turf Nevertheless, under the influence of the followers of John Dewey (who said, “If we have ground to be religious about anything, we may take education [itself] religiously”), the public education system has become one of the most militant destroyers of traditional faith this country has ever seen.
It is no accident that the last twenty-five years have seen a growing decline in the intellects of American children. Replacement of the three R’s with touchy-feely mind games has robbed a whole generation of both knowledge and any moral base from which to apply their tediously acquired ignorance. Some parents, perceiving the foolishness of this course, began to form private church schools or to educate their children at home in the early 1970’s. In a number of cases, these people were hauled into court and charged with “neglect,” despite the fact that the removal of their children from the public sties had demonstrably improved the youngsters’ brains and hearts. Several parents served jail terms for this heinous disregard of state authority, and at least four families were actually ripped apart by the slavering social services in their concern for the “best interests of the children.”
How a system that willfully undermines and disparages the traditional family through its politically correct textbooks can claim to know anything of the best interests of children is one of the more poignant modern mysteries. But Blair Adams, not content to examine only one facet of this gem of hypocrisy, proceeds to put the acid to many of its other gleaming surfaces. Among these are developments apparently unrelated to education: compulsory immunization, mandatory seat belt laws, attempts to prevent or severely restrict home births, and the explosive growth of a bureaucratic machinery for dealing with “child abuse.” Underneath the veneer of legislative rhetoric, however, the common element in all these matters is the state’s effort to assert its authority over, and indeed even within, the nuclear family.
In many of our supposedly free states, the mere allegation of “child abuse” is now sufficient completely to suspend the constitutional rights of any-parent unlucky enough to be so charged. An anonymous phone call is often all it takes to set social services in motion, and in many scenarios the accused is never allowed to face the accuser. The state’s inquisition of experts takes over, at times extracting “evidence” from confused children via cruel brainwashing techniques and dragging families through the dungeons of a psychological hell, regardless whether they are really guilty, merely misunderstood, or entirely innocent.
The State, with its abstract love—so out of touch with real love that it even defines the “right to privacy” as the license to insert a suction tube . . . into the mother’s womb to kill a baby, now claims only it can provide the covering for this vulnerable child. At the same time, the State offers no protection and support to the family’s claim to privacy against the social suction tubes . . . of the . . . department of Human Services. . . . Instead of . . . protection from [false accusations of child abuse], the State encourages, through promised anonymity and immunity, . . . devastating blows to the family’s sheltered womb of personal and social integrity.
Few people, I daresay, would detect much moral difference between the perpetrators of such “cleansings and healings” and the perhaps more nobly motivated witch-hunters of the past. The ostensible intent to “help” is still there, but now the inexorable coercion of this philanthropy is applied by busybodies who believe ultimately not in eternal salvation, but in temporal “health” and “safety.” As the old Inquisition tried to save people forever spiritually by forcing them to think and to speak in accordance with Catholic orthodoxy, so modern “health professionals” of every stripe attempt to exact conformity to their state-licensed authority in every sphere of bodily and psychological life. The evil of both lies in their denial of the individual’s personal responsibility before God; and thus, in the name of eliminating all risks, they eliminate both the freedom and the humanity of those they purport to save.
The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, that beleaguered guardian of our individual liberties, grew out of the assumption that free men would always understand and embrace their personal responsibilities. The amendments were written by Europeans of Christian background who well knew the sinful tendency of majorities to oppress the consciences and persons of dissenters, and it is no accident that the primal liberty of conscience guaranteed by the First Amendment is immediately bolstered by the implied right of self-defense guaranteed in the Second Amendment. The one thing our Founding Fathers feared more than anything was an all powerful state operating under the mystical majoritarian authority of “the people.” Ironically, however, the Calvinist belief in general human depravity, which led the Founders to limit the powers of government, has since degenerated into a pseudo-Calvinist assumption of general human incompetence, leading inexorably (unless we repent) to the unlimited social and moral surveillance of Big Brother.
As the traditional nesting grounds of personal responsibility, the Church and the family have been bulwarks against the encroachment of state authority throughout this nation’s history. But now, with the Church increasingly betrayed from within by the acceptance of humanist doctrines and with the family emasculated to a degree unprecedented in any age, little—if anything—remains to protect an individual from the commodious jaws of social planning monopolists intent on making the world very safe for themselves, and very sterile for their subjects.
[Who Owns the Children?, by Blair Adams (Waco, Texas: Truth Forum) 692 pp., $26.95]