Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

for sectarian purposes, -- to prove one sect to be right, and others to be wrong. Hence, it had been excluded from the schools of some towns, by an express vote. But since the law and the reasons on which it is founded, have been more fully explained and better understood; and since sectarian instruction has, to a great extent, ceased to be given, the Bible has been restored. I am not aware of the existence of a single town in the State, in whose schools it is not now introduced. . . .

If the Bible, then, is the exponent of Christianity; . . . if the Bible makes known those truths, which, according to the faith of Christians, are able to make men wise unto salvation; and if this Bible is in the schools, how can it be said that Christianity is excluded from the schools; or how can it be said that the school system, which adopts and uses the Bible, is an anti-Christian, or an un-Christian system? . . .

Is it not, indeed, too plain, to require the formality of a syllogism, that if any man's creed is to be found in the Bible, and the Bible is in the schools, then that man's creed is in the schools?

* * *

. . . In bidding an official Farewell to a system, with which I have been so long connected . . . I have felt bound to show, that, so far from its being an irreligious, and anti-Christian, or an un-Christian system, it is a system which recognizes religious obligations in their fullest extent; that it is a system which invokes a religious spirit, and can never be fitly administered without such a spirit; that it inculcates the great commands, upon which hang all the law and the prophets; that it welcomes the Bible, and therefore welcomes all the doctrines which the Bible really contains, and that it listens to these doctrines so reverently, that, for the time being, it will not suffer any rash mortal to thrust in his interpolations of their meaning, or overlay the text with any of the "many inventions" which the heart of man has sought out. It is a system, however, which leaves open all the other means of instruction, -- the pulpits, the Sunday schools, the Bible classes, the catechism, of all denominations, -- to be employed according to the preferences of individual parents. It is a system which restrains itself from teaching, that what it does teach is all that needs to be taught, or that should be taught; but leaves this to be decided by each man for himself, according to the light of his reason and conscience. . . .

Such, then, in a religious point of view, is the Massachusetts system of Common Schools. Reverently, it recognizes and affirms the sovereign rights of the Creator; sedulously and sacredly it guards the religious rights of the creature; while it seeks to remove all hinderances, and to supply all furtherances to a filial and paternal communion between man and his Maker. . . .

Source:[ Horace Mann], Twelfth Annual Report of the Board of Education ( Boston, 1849), pp. 103-104, 112-114, 116-118, 121-124, 139-140.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

R. B. Culver, Horace Mann and Religion in the Massachusetts Public Schools ( New Haven, 1929).

M. Curti, The Social Ideas of American Educators ( New York, 1935), pp. 101-138.

-209-

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