Over at U.S. Intellectual History, Andrew Hartman wants to know why, starting the 1970s, the Christian Right came to see “secular humanism” as a religion in its own right. He writes that we need “an intellectual history of the Christian Right’s critique of secular humanism,” for a number of reasons:
We need this because such a critique has formed the intellectual basis and legal strategy of the Christian Right’s struggles over public education since the 1970s. We need this because doing justice to the Christian Right’s argument allows us to better understand the movement. And we need this because, as I will seek to make clear in my conclusion, the Christian Right’s critique of secular humanism obliquely reveals a major blind spot of contemporary progressive education.
That blind spot is, of course, how to approach religion and its place—if it should even have one—in public school curricula.
I contend that the progressive educational establishment is dishonest about their project. A 1987 report put out by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, entitled “Religion in the Curriculum,” found that “references to religion have all but been excised from the public school curriculum.” Progressive educators should come out and say, forcefully, that religion is not welcome in the public schools because it contradicts the values children need to learn to become tolerant citizens in a multicultural society. If they don’t believe this to be their project, and most probably don’t, then there needs to be serious reflection about why religion is hardly taught in the schools, given how important it continues to be in our political culture. Religion is progressive education’s blind spot. Why isn’t it taught about? Is it too controversial? Should something so important be so taboo?
Also, keep an eye out for a round table discussion on David Sehat’s The Myth of American Religious Freedom at U.S. American Intellectual History, slated to begin in about a month.