Government school classrooms: temples of humanism?
Published: 7 July 2006 (GMT+10)
Many humanist leaders are quite open about using the public schools to proselytize their faith. This might surprise some parents who think the schools are supposed to be free of religious indoctrination, but this quote from a longtime secular-humanist activist (and second-hand bookstore owner) John J. Dunphy makes it clear:
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism … .
It will undoubtedly be a long, arduous, painful struggle replete with much sorrow and many tears, but humanism will emerge triumphant. It must if the family of humankind is to survive.1
Eleven years later, Dunphy ardently defended this piece, after admitting that it “has all the subtlety of a charging rhinoceros”:
Have I mellowed over the past 11 years? Of course, who hasn’t? But have I repudiated or even questioned the basic tenets of ‘A Religion For A New Age’? No, nor can I envision myself ever doing so. How do I respond to the fundamentalists who are so incensed by the essay? If they have the decency to confront me to my face instead of sending anonymous hate-letters, I usually say something to the effect that Pat Buchanan was right at the 1992 Republican National Convention when he stated that a cultural civil war rages across America. While the struggle is certainly quite complex and multifaceted, I continue, a significant aspect of it is comprised of the conflict between the totalitarian Christianity of the Radical Right and the force of humanism. And then I add, ‘But here’s something that Mr. Buchanan neglected to mention in his address: humanism is going to win.’ 2