Equipping Children With Spiritual and Political Armor

August 12, 2010

As my friends’ kids leave the nest for their first year away at college, I think of the monolithic ideas with which they will surely be bombarded in an environment that is supposed to expose them to a variety of ideas. Are they prepared to resist the seductive but destructive message?

Liberal elites have dominated most university faculties for years, but it seems they’ve become bolder, more radical and more militant. It is not their ideas I fear, because Christianity and conservatism stand up to truth challenges. It is the moral preening, the politicization of academics, the peer pressure, the revisionist distortions and the potential discrimination against dissenters.

You know the drill. The professorate will aggressively beat into your children’s heads that America is not the greatest nation in history, but largely responsible, through action or inaction, for much of the suffering in the world and that it is imperialistic, exploitive and selfish. They’ll say that Christianity is narrow, intolerant, anti-intellectual, anti-science, homophobic, hateful and judgmental and that capitalism is corrupt and skewed toward the “rich” and big corporations. They’ll say or imply that political conservatism is inherently racist, homophobic, sexist, militaristic, unenlightened, close-minded, mean-spirited and uncompassionate.

As parents, are you aware that the above scenario is likely to play out to some extent at most universities? Do you disagree or think it’s not a big deal? Do you believe your kids are immune from this inevitable onslaught? Are you confident that even if they are exposed to such slander, they will reject it as inconsistent with their own personal experiences?

Are you sure, for example, that your kids have the discernment to recognize the disinformation that Christianity and conservatism are hardhearted, selfish, hateful, bigoted and intellectually backward and the strength to oppose it? Apart from your kids’ presumed respect for you, do they have the intellectual ammunition and the spiritual armor to resist the pressure to conform?

Parents who find themselves in this position must not be complacent, assuming naively that they’ve done all they can do and that their kids have picked up, by osmosis or example, a proper and sustaining worldview orientation. Though they have been exposed to a culture war since they first started watching TV and going to movies, they are about to enter a new, intensified phase of it.

Christian parents should not assume their kids are equipped to filter out the false claims they will likely encounter. Christianity is the opposite of how it is often portrayed in our culture and is none of those negative things indicated above. You owe it to yourselves and your kids to anticipate the attacks and think through how they can be countered. Don’t assume your excellent child rearing will be enough. We must stand up to the challenge and test our own faith, if necessary, reviewing what and why we believe. If we can’t explain it, should we expect our kids to understand it?

Please don’t dismiss these warnings as my opportunistic construction of a straw man. As my friend Frank Turek warns, “Christian young people are leaving the church at an alarming rate, mainly because they are not equipped to examine the skepticism and atheism they encounter, often coming from their college professors, after leaving home.” So do your homework and help arm your kids. Or consult other sources for help, such as Frank’s website, CrossExamined.org, which has information on how you can help teach or reinforce in your kids why Christianity is true and reasonable — and loving.

Likewise, as politically conservative parents, you should help insulate your kids from the propaganda coming their way. You might want to first remind them that a strong majority of Americans are center-right and reject most of the ideas being forced on us by the vocal, strident and extreme leftist minority in this country. Next, of course, you need to address the specific libels hurled at conservatives and substantively respond to and refute the claims that they are bigoted, selfish and unreasonable.

If you have time to address little else, at least strive to explain to your kids in a thoughtful way why conservatism is not only not uncompassionate but also more compassionate, open-minded, tolerant, science-compatible and consistent with our human experiences than liberalism. You must do what you can to help prevent your kids from being shamed into liberalism through its false claim of having a monopoly on compassion.

Parents, are you prepared? Are your kids? Can we agree we have some work to do?