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Easy as a Sunday Morning

Easy as a Sunday Morning

We often complain about public schools and how terribly they’re educating our children these days, continually suggesting one solution after another to improve scores and produce more well-rounded students ready for the real world. Unfortunately, these solutions include everything under the heavens except for the one thing that could actually help: religion.

Before you laugh at such a notion, let me point your attention to an article I recently came across. The article recapped a webinar by Dr. Pat Fagan, a longtime clinical therapist and social scientist specializing in studies relating to family and religious issues. According to Fagan, children performed better in school when they came from an intact family (no surprise there), but they performed even better when that intact family regularly attended church.

“The impact of religious worship is massive and powerful right throughout education,” Fagan said. “And it is the totally neglected aspect in education research. This is a scandal in the social sciences, that this data is not made known.”

I decided to track down down Fagan’s research myself, and found that the data really did show that children in actively religious and intact families performed better in school than others.

Source: marriResearch

If you’re wondering why this might be the case, C. S. Lewis provides a reasonable answer in his famous work, Mere ChristianityLewis notes that mankind has spent the whole of human history trying both to be like gods and to create their own happiness. Those attempts, however, only end in devastation and unhappiness, as a look around as at our world quickly confirms:

The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

In other words, can we really expect today’s children to have the peace, joy, happiness, and inquisitive nature to connect the dots and injest knowledge about the world if they don’t know and spend time with the Maker of it? Lewis and the research from Fagan suggest the answer is no.

Today we see church attendance in decline, with only 24 percent of U.S. teens noting that religion is very important in their lives. At the same time, we also see academic scores declining, the Nation’s Report Card recently reporting that eighth-grade civics saw its first ever score drop, while eighth-grade history scores are the lowest they’ve been since 1994.

We can push those facts aside and insist there’s no connection … but what if there is, and what if we’re turning a blind eye to the only thing that can really help our children succeed?

I recently went to a Carole Joy Seid seminar on education (which I highly recommend) and she began her talk by telling parents they can homeschool successfully with just a Bible, a library card, and a good math curriculum. Given the fact that her son was raised and educated on this philosophy (and now has his Ph.D.) maybe she’s on to something. After all, that philosophy fits perfectly with this research from Fagan.

In the end, perhaps improving the academic standing of the nation’s students isn’t as hard as we’ve made it out to be. Perhaps it’s really just as easy as … a Sunday morning.

Originally published at Annie’s Substack.

Image credit: Pexels-Craig Adderley



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  • Avatar
    Michael Kevin Murphy
    May 30, 2023, 4:47 pm

    There is something else about religion. And church or temple attendance by children. As children, we are learn not only what to think but how to think. A child’s early engagement with both religion and attending religious services with others is intellectually stimulating if nothing else as those children wrestle with notions of God, afterlife, the religious bases for our roles in secular life. Such children are surely far ahead of their peers who are not so engaged.

  • Avatar
    Rick Gordon
    May 31, 2023, 12:03 am

    Duh … I hope not too much time or money was spent to learn that parents and their social habits impact school age children. As a society, we ought to give accolades to families that choose to stay together – sometimes only for the sake of their children – and expose their children to a variety of experiences – socially, culturally, and to whatever religious organization they deem appropriate.


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