Manuel asked:

People say you shouldn't mix faith and school. Can you tell me about the Catholic church instituting the school system?

Jimmy Akin replied:

"The Church certainly instituted the university system ... The universities in the middle ages that got started, like where Saint Thomas taught, I mean those were Church institutions. And it kinda grew from there ..."

Patrick Coffin asked:

"Your friend means public school education right, Manuel? Protestant and Catholics who raise their own funds can certainly have faith and a religion component in their education systems right?"

Manuel replied:

I would guess so.

Jimmy Akin replied:

"... in the United States, public schools were created specifically in order to undermine Catholic schools. Originally there weren't state-supported public schools in America and the Catholic church was growing a system of parochial schools, and Catholics were viewed at the time with a great deal of hostility in America. And so you had the idea in a lot of Protestant groups that Catholics were unpatriotic, and they weren't good Americans, and they were being taught these problematic teachings and doctrines in their schools. And so it was decided to create a system of publicly supported schools in part to undermine the Catholic school system, and to provide Protestant education for Catholic children as well as Protestant children who wouldn't need to ... go to a Catholic school as it was the only one available... What they didn't realize is eventually the public schools were going to be taken over by secularists and used to undermine both the Catholic and the Protestant faith, and school systems ...

I know one resource that talks about that is the book Freedomnomics ... in terms of the basic question should religion be involved in education the answer is of course ... if religion is true, it's the most important thing in life, and treating it like it's something shameful that should be partitioned and not be part of someone's every day activities including the huge number of hours children spend in learning is just crazy. If you want people to care about their faith and imbibe their faith and live their faith of course it needs to be part of everything they do including schooling.

... in the United States we have the first amendment ... which guarantees both freedom of religion, and it guarantees freedom from having the state establish a religion. And people have come, in recent decades, to crazy expansive interpretations of the first amendment that go way beyond what it actually meant. What it actually meant when it talks about congress ... shall not establish a religion is it means it won't create an equivalent of the church of England. In England, which America had just broken away from had an official state church. What the founding fathers wanted to avoid is having a church of America. But anything shy of having a church of America is not prohibited by the actual meaning of the first amendment. So the schools can, and for many decades did promote religion in a way that avoided creating a state church ..."

Mark's take:

The Catholic church should also be remembered for creating the hospital system and is the largest non-governmental health care provider in the world. It's sad that people would prefer to forget, or erase all the positive contributions to the world made by the Church.

Source material:

Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-baked Theories Don't by John R. Lott

There is a review that quotes at length from the book about the very question on this page. The headline of the review is "A Great Book to Help Inform U.S. Citizens" and is written by D. Paden on December 22, 2007. The section of interest in this review starts with: "As a homeschooling parent, I have read accounts of the origins of government education--by now the reader will have probably figured out that whereas most people say public education"


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of the answer provided. For the complete response download the podcast.

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Show air date: July 24, 2014

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 39:55

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