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Some people say, “I’ll use any stick to beat a dog,” but they better not mean it. A stick of dynamite, for example, would harm the one doing the beating as well as the dog.

Most Evangelical Christian school history text books or homeschool materials  are written from a very conservative Protestant perspective and they are, to be charitable, very bad. The uncharitable description would be that they are worse than useless.

If they were merely useless, they would do less harm. As it is, they contain so much laughable error and over the top bias that they harm the causes they intend to help. For example, the only two places one can find the “dark ages” view of the Middle Ages are on Internet atheist web sites and in Christian text books.

Evidently the Catholic Church spent a great deal of time keeping people from reading so that when Luther published his Theses the public was really upset . . . but the problem with the argument is too obvious to continue. Thinkers like Aquinas are described in ways that defy any relationship to what they wrote.

How many of these books repeat the howling falsehood that Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire?

The “pagans” also come in for a beating though rarely for views they actually held. One fairly prominent homeschool site discusses “Hebrew logic” and lumps all the Greeks into one neat chart. Evidently they can see no important differences between the polytheism of Homer, the idealism of Plato, and the monotheism of Aristotle.

Reading lists for some of these programs ban Plato and the ancients as evil, but then assign Herman Melville. Evidently it is unacceptable to come as close to the truth as you can before Christ, but acceptable to hate Christ after he came in your writing. It is when they assign Austen that my blood really boils, since her classical education made her capable of writing books their students will read without the benefit of the eduction that produced them. Such reasoning shows neither sense nor sensibility, but is the product of overweening pride and a fair amount of ignorant prejudice.

What is the result? If you beat a dog with the wrong stick, the results may come back to destroy what you intended to defend. The Protestantism of these books is joyless and anti-intellectual. Lies told to attack the “papists” and the pagans will only make both look more attractive when the obvious falsehoods are revealed.

Finally it sets students up for the pernicious idea that when Christianity was dominant in the West things were very, very bad. Of course, they don’t think their form of Christianity produced the problem . . . just the bad false pagan kind, but it is a small step for many to simply dismiss their own little sect as just as bad, but so tiny as to pose no threat.

Total impotence is not a stirring defense against the charge that your ideas are dangerous. The Protestants who tolerated Andrew Dickson White with his warfare model of religion and science because he (mostly) attacked people they did not like got their reward when he turned his arguments on people and ideas they did admire.

Most Christian schools would be better off reading actual books, forgoing the textbooks altogether, and making sure their defense of their own ideas is not clogged with falsehoods.

More on: Strange Stuff

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