The Gideon New Testament program is too much for a public school in a rural Tennessee county; the program must stop.

The Gideon New Testament program is too much for a public school in a rural Tennessee county; the program must stop.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  — 2 Corinthians 6:14

They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant. Thus judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field.— Hosea 10:4

A democratic program of education must necessarily rest on the perception that democracy is a challenge to all forms of absolutism, that it has its own standards, ideals, and values, and that these must pervade the entire program from end to end. — Boyd Henry Bode, progressive educator

By David Tulis

Christians in a Southeast Tennessee county are drawing a line in the sand as official atheism consolidates itself.

Unwittingly they are finding themselves that their chief opponent is not on the other side of the line, but on the same.

Wherever the state has maintained control over an area of government given to the family, the process is like that in Pikeville, Tenn.

One can see progress toward dechristianization in Bledsoe County, where a complaint about  has brought Gideon giveaways of the New Testament (with Psalms and Proverbs) to a halt.

“By law public schools cannot impose or promote religion,” a news report about the conflict says, and the school system is blocking the Gideons.

“Bledsoe County Schools do not allow the distribution of religious materials from any religious groups,” Supt. Jennifer Terry says. “The distribution of religious materials in a public school is in violation of constitutional provisions and well established federal and state laws and precedence.”

Upset Christians

“My whole congregation is very upset,” Pastor Bill Wolfe of Lee Station Baptist Church tells TV3. “We talked about it yesterday morning. They [Gideons] come in and they don’t force anything on any child. It’s an opportunity for them to receive a New Testament Bible. They can take it if they want one and they don’t have to take it if they don’t want one. I’m 51-years-old and I still have mine that I received in the 5th grade, so it’s been going on for years and years.”

The Rev. Wolfe says he and other county residents are ready to take a stand. He paints a bleak picture of an official embitterment of the modern state against the gospel and Christianity.

“They’re not going to stop at Bledsoe county. It will come to Sequatchie county, Cumberland county, Rhea county and all of the surrounding counties here. They’re going to try and stop it everywhere,” say Mr. Wolfe. “We’re sliding further and further away from the principles our nation was founded on and it’s very sad because we used to be ‘One Nation under God.’ Now, I really believe we are slipping further away and we’re not going to be able to say that much longer.”

Atheism’s drive toward consistency

The Bible giveaways are, if anything, very much on the margin of the life of the public school. The New Testament giveaways are by the student’s choice, and never from a Gideon’s extended hand.

“We simply go in and we lay it on the table. We tell them what it is and who we are. If they want one, they freely take one,” Charlie Queen, chaplain for Sequatchie Valley Camp of Gideons, says. “We do not hand it to them, they take it freely and voluntarily.”

But according to legal advice to the superintendent, this recognition of Christianity is too much — and illegal.

Already the entire curricula is progressive and state oriented. Bledsoe is a rural county, situated just west of Dayton, Tenn. But because its school system is a satellite of the state system in Nashville, it serves the consolidating interests of the state, which brooks no rival theories.

Christianity, after all, is a comprehensive system of worship, life and thought. “Thus, the totalitarian democracy of progressive educators cannot tolerate Christianity because it is a rival religion,” R.J. Rushdoony says in his study of the primary thinkers in the public school movement. “As totalitarian in nature, this democracy supplants all things in every area, art, economics, politics, athletics, and all else, with its own democratic interpretation, which is both total and totalitarian, and which usurps the total life of man and claims to be priest, prophet and king in and over every sphere of human activity.”

The state curriculum since the 1920s has driven toward total internal consistency, with a denial of God’s person, His Kingdom, His grace, His law and the claims these imply upon mankind.

Public schools are collective in theory, statist and progressive in their moral and political theory. They are hostile to independent thought and personal ideas. The state school distrusts literacy, and so since the 1930s has degraded reading and writing with the look-say system of reading instruction, one academicians knew would cause functional illiteracy. Bledsoe County schools, unremarkably, teach collectivism at every turn, even on the civics book pages about George Washington, the constitution or Jefferson Davis.

Their revisionist histories and biology textbooks teach a man- and state-centered order, with the necessity of a powerful state to direct humanity’s evolution They hold to materialism and its rejection of a spiritual world and of God who ordains it, and thus find alternate systems of expiation, justification and sanctification. They are drug-dispensing centers that hook generations of children on narcotics. They instill pragmatism in moral choices — not that God forbids sex outside marriage, but that you the student must be responsible for your choices and be willing to live with consequences of your actions.

The Rev. Wolfe is disappointed, and the Gideons sore. But Christian people faithful to God in their private lives seem to have abandoned any claims God makes upon the religious act of education. Somehow, we can remain in public school if once a year a free Bible can be picked up from a Gideon table. We can tolerate a consistently atheist and “progressive” system so long as a few tokens are granted us.

A few questions

But as these tokens are tossed into the wastebin, what is the faithful Christian to do? A few questions may help clarify his brooding internal conflict with his conscience:

1. If a known enemy were going to attack you and your religion, could he do it better than by taking your children every day, forcing you to pay for his services, then teaching them his ways in his school?

2. Is there anything in the Bible that encourages the Christian father to support and patronize the state school?

3. Is there anything in the Bible warning God’s people of covenants, alliances and friendships with the ungodly?

4. And is the state school such an alliance? (A yes or no, please. No fidgeting.)

5. Or is it as some say a mission field into which the Christian man must inject his young children so that they can help convert the system, and the people in it, to Christianity?

6. If an intruder comes into your house, kidnaps your children, then says if you pay him a tax and put your children into his school, you could have them back — would that be a bargain? A good deal, since now you don’t have to pay for schooling or think any further about education?

7. What would happen if Christian people absolutely refused to patronize Bledsoe County’s state schools, regardless of tax bills and a bit of short-lived social ostracism?

8. Would such a move strengthen Christianity and the family in Bledsoe, or would such a step weaken them?

Sources: Natalie Potts, “Distribution of any religious material banned from Bledsoe County Schools,” Nov. 9, 2015, TV3,

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