On the one hand, we’ve already seen how a rise in Atheism is directly proportional to a decline in education. There was France during the Reign of Terror, the Soviet Union during the Great Terror, and China during the Great Famine. On the other hand, we’ve already seen how a rise in Christianity is directly proportional to an increase in education. There was America during the 18th Century, and Scandinavia during the Age of Freedom. Today, the example of progress comes from South Korea. These Capitalistic Asians are becoming less Atheistic, more Christian, and more educated faster than any other county in the world.
South Korean Education Is Better than Ever:
While the Atheist argues that his worldview produces the highest education, the statistics support an opposite conclusion. South Korea’s fifteen-year-olds ranked fourth in science, second in mathematics, and first in reading in an international assessment program in 2009. Additionally, this society respects people, not only who earn good grades, but those who do better than others at their job, the incentive being the pursuit of individual happiness.[i] According to the Economist, “Few countries have done better than South Korea over the past half-century.”[ii] At the same time, South Korea, a country of about 50 million, has had millions convert to Christianity. About 5.4 million are Roman Catholic, and about 9 million more are Protestant, while some of the other Asian countries continue to persecute Christianity.
During the 18th Century, Korean intellectuals encountered Catholicism in Beijing before returning to their homeland with new ideas and new faiths. Confucian monarchs executed most of the early converts, creating martyrs and sympathy for the Christians. Shortly thereafter, Protestantism arrived. By the end of the century, American missionaries made their two signature moves: (1) they opened modern schools and (2) translated the Bible. Moreover, these schools admitted girls, and a vernacular alphabet known as Hangul Korean was chosen for translating the texts, instead of the Chinese characters favored by the literati.
Korean Christians have been arrested and beheaded in the Middle-East for such offenses as singing hymns in public. Others work undercover in China and North Korea, sometimes even helping northern Asians flee their Communist countries.
The trauma of Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945 eroded faith in Confucianism and Buddhist traditions. To the chagrin of the Japanese, the Koreans related to the suffering and persecution of the Jews of the Old Testament. Yet by 1945, only 2% of Koreans were Christians.
However, since the end of World War II, and since America’s “police action” for the 38th parallel that we often call “The Korean War,” only 23% of South Koreans are Buddhist, 46% profess no belief, and as much as 52% claim to be religious, as of 2012. Korean Christians have been arrested and beheaded in the Middle-East for such offenses as singing hymns in public. Others work undercover in China and North Korea, sometimes even helping northern Asians flee their Communist countries.
Other Koreans have what they consider a grander ambition: to spread Christianity in the North. In North Korea, Christians have been permitted to run the private Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which has been educating North Korea’s “future elite” since 2010, so long as there is no express missionary work occurring. Fortunately, Pyongyang officials seem to be turning a blind-eye to the changes.[iii]
Meanwhile, French & American Education Is Declining:
Francois Hollande’s Socialism extends into the classroom. He proposed the elimination of homework for elementary and junior-high students, arguing that homework penalizes children with difficult living situations. Whether such a ban is a good or a bad idea for education is beside the point. France’s education system has been declining for more than a decade, and it’s desperately seeking a solution.[iv] Likewise, in America, studies repeatedly show low proficiency rates among adolescents for literacy, numeracy, and problem solving. And South Korea ranks among the best as a well-educated, well-trained, prosperous labor force, as of 2013.[v]
Within the span of time where South Korea has converted to Christianity and adopted Capitalism, and since its devout converts have been martyred for praying in public in Communist countries, America has banned prayer from public schools. We’ve already seen the rationale behind the ban in Engel v. Vitale, where it was held that “[t]he First Amendment teaches that a government neutral in the field of religion better serves all religious interests.” However, while that may have been a good opinion, it could have been better. There, the dissenter, Justice Potter Stewart, got it right. He could not see how an “official religion” is established by the recitation of a noncompulsory prayer in a public school. It is nothing more than an opportunity for children to partake in the heritage of the country. He said:
At the opening of each day’s Session of this Court we stand, while one of our officials invokes the protection of God. Since the days of John Marshall our Crier has said, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.” Both the Senate and the House of Representatives open their daily Sessions with prayer. Each of our Presidents, from George Washington to John F. Kennedy, has upon assuming his Office asked the protection and help of God.[vi]
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc?
I am not arguing that a lack of public school prayer per se results in the decline of education. I am saying that, as France sways back into its Socialism, and as America tampers its Christian heritage, the benefits of a Christian worldview and education are lost, only to be replaced with an Atheistic education that has never served anyone any good. But Atheist amnesia is a strange sickness. It comes and goes.
As Korea becomes more Christian and less Atheistic, it becomes more successful. The product of Atheism is negative on society. Here, in the west, we laugh every time one of us doesn’t know the answer when some late-night TV host asks a thirty-year-old how many stars are on the American Flag. That’s a repercussion of the Engel v. Vitale school system.
When working in court, I cringe when I hear the judge tell some drug addict in the dock that the Commonwealth is going to help the accused develop “the proper skills” to remain sober. If staying sober is a skill, then we need a new word to describe the thing that Beethoven and Mozart had. Just like the word “skill,” everything else in America is dumbed-down to disguise our ignorance and failure. That’s a repercussion of the Engel v. Vitale school system.
Again, it’s not because prayer per se was banned. It’s the culture that went with it. We all know the real rationale behind the ruling. It was the early 1960s, and the country wanted to move towards Atheism. But we don’t learn history anymore in America. We don’t know about Rome’s Great Persecution, France’s Reign of Terror, the Soviet Union’s Great Terror, or Mao’s Great Famine. That’s a repercussion of the Engel v. Vitale school system.
As Christianity decreases, stupidity increases. That’s just what the statistics show. Engel got rid of prayer as well as a culture. That culture used to teach historical lessons of Atheist repercussions and failures. Now the schools are among the worst in the developed world. Meanwhile, Atheism is growing in the west. It’s time to educate ourselves.
[i] Education in South Korea: Class Struggle, The Economist (Oct. 29, 2013), http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/10/education-south-korea.
[ii] South Korea’s Education System, The Economist (Oct. 24, 2013), http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588373-there-are-perils-country-having-all-your-children-working-too-hard-one-big-exam.
[iii] Why South Korea Is so Distinctively Christian, The Economist (Aug. 12, 2014), http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/08/economist-explains-6.
[iv] Eleanor Beardsley, Pencils Down? French Plan Would End Homework, NPR (Nov. 29, 2012), http://www.npr.org/2012/12/02/166193594/pencils-down-french-plan-would-end-homework.
[v] John Cassidy, Measuring America’s Decline, In Three Charts, The New Yorker (Oct. 23, 2013), http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/measuring-americas-decline-in-three-charts.
[vi] Engel at 448.