Back to School Concerns: Ensuring Accurate History is Taught

usa-1779925_960_720The first article in this series discussed the absence of God in public schools. When belief in God is removed, another belief system must take its place, and secularism has done just that. A secular belief system posits that events have no religious or spiritual basis. This point of view is completely antithetical to the reality of our nation’s history and spiritual origins. Because of the domination of secular teachings, there is a significant concern that we are losing the divinely inspired founding principles of our country.

Consider the following quotes:

“I believe we are paying a very high price for our increasing secularism. Jefferson said, ‘God who gave us life, gave us liberty.’ Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God?”
– President Gordon B. Hinckley, Address given at Provo Freedom Festival, 1997

“As a result of misunderstanding the importance of religious liberty in our Constitutional order, many citizens and even some educators have come to consider it bad taste or even illegal for public school teachers even to mention religious influences or commitments. No wonder we suffer an appalling ignorance of our political and cultural origins.”
– Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, July 1990

When religious influence is not considered or discussed while teaching history in the classroom, fundamental truths are left out of our children’s education. God established this nation. He raised up the Founding Fathers for the purpose of writing our Constitution. His influence was seen throughout the Revolutionary War which was prophesied of in the Book of Mormon. Not only do we as Latter-day Saints believe this, but the Founding Fathers believed it! Prevailing wisdom today paints the Founders as wealthy, elitist slave owners who served their own interests by establishing our government. History books written by authors like self-proclaimed socialist Howard Zinn are widely used and rarely questioned. Much of the spiritual influence that the Founders felt and acted upon has been erased. History has been rewritten.

Character of the Founders
Fortunately for those seeking truth, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said much about these great men. Here are just a few examples:

“I [look] upon the Founding Fathers as men who believed in God, as men who prayed to God, as men who recognized God and wished to do His will. What a singular and remarkable group they were! As I look across the world today, I search in vain for such a group as walked together across the stage of history when this nation was born.”
– President Gordon B. Hinckley, Address given at Provo Freedom Festival, 1997

“The Founding Fathers understood this country’s spiritual heritage. They frequently declared that God’s hand was upon this nation, and that He was working through them to create what Chesterton once called ‘a nation with the soul of a church.’ While they were influenced by history and their accumulated knowledge, the single most influential reference source for their work on the Constitution was the Holy Bible.”
– M. Russell Ballard, “Religion in a Free Society,” Ensign, October 1992

“Other nations might boast of their kings, but the King of America, proclaimed by the patriotic fathers who founded it and established it, is the great God of Heaven.”
– Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, October 1928, p. 109

“I have resolved to do all that is within my power to keep alive the same faith which existed in the hearts and souls of our early founding fathers. It was George Washington who declared, ‘The people know it is impossible to rightly govern without God and the Bible.’”
– L. Tom Perry, Conference Report, October 1975, p. 130

wilford-woodruff-82910-galleryIn the April 1898 General Conference, President Wilford Woodruff had this to say about the Founders: “Those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men.” He then goes on to relate the occasion when many of the Founding Fathers appeared to him in the St. George temple and insisted that their temple work be done. Said he, “Would those spirits have called upon me, as an Elder in Israel, to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not.”

From these teachings of modern prophets and apostles we can be assured of the noble character of our Founders.

Why Our Country is Unique
The next question is – why does it matter? Why is our freedom so essential to understand and maintain? The answer is very simple and Elder Mark E. Petersen explains it this way:

“Free agency is part and parcel of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, free agency was required here in America so that God’s work could move forward; and so it must, for the day of the Lord draweth nigh and the ultimate destiny of the United States is rapidly emerging.

“Here in the USA the Lord’s latter-day Zion has been established already. Here in the USA his latter-day New Jerusalem will yet be established. Here in the USA the Lord will preside during the Millennium” (BYU, 7/4/76).

This is not just one of many nations. Our Father in Heaven needed a free land to restore the gospel. Our country has a destiny to perform, and it is not finished yet. From this free land the gospel has gone forth to the world and must continue to go forth until the time when we again welcome our Savior. Freedom is essential to the spread of the gospel. Knowing this, we cannot fail to teach the rising generation the truths that they will need to carry on the Lord’s work.

Our Responsibility
It is up to us as parents to know the history of our nation, the Constitution, and how it relates to the gospel. It is our responsibility to make sure our children are taught these things. Ezra Taft Benson said:

“We must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

“Have we read The Federalist Papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?

“As Jefferson said, ‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, . . . it expects what never was and never will be'” (October 1987 General Conference).

Abraham Lincoln declared at Gettysburg that ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. An apathetic and ignorant citizenry cannot possibly uphold the divinely-inspired Constitution and ensure that our freedoms are protected. We are incredibly blessed to live in this promised land, and we must remember that “unto whom much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3). The blessings of freedom come with the responsibility to preserve that freedom for future generations. We need to commit to teach our children the noble character of our Founding Fathers and the Biblical principles upon which our government is based. Most importantly, we need to teach them that our Father in Heaven was, is now, and will forever be blessing this land according to our righteousness.

Written by Stephanie Gifford
Stephanie Gifford lives in southeast Idaho with her wonderful husband, Jared, and their beautiful daughter. She enjoys horses, baseball, reading, and spending time with family.