Education in the early days was enshrined right in the middle of the values of a society. It was meant to conduct the behavior of young people, mold them in to the responsible young adults. As such, it was not left to few learned individuals (i.e. teachers). Instead, all adults adopted the role of teachers in their respective households, with their only experience being that they have gained in life.
To help building a conviction in ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, it became essential to showcase a supernatural being thatinstilled punishment and offered rewards for every wrong deedand the right one observed respectively.This was incorporated as the part of education and again it was the role of adults to teach their young ones about these values, regardless of their experiences. This form of education gave the rise to the religious education, that later went on to be incorporated in the school curricula all over the world. But perhaps the most precise origin of religion can be traced back to the psycho-cultural changes at the beginning of the Neolithic period leading to the Birth of the Gods (Cauvin) to symbolize the supernatural.
The incorporation of religion in theeducation curricula soon led to missionary activities throughout the world to spread the word of God. It is noteworthy that most of these missionaries preached the need for education foreverybodyin order to eliminate illiteracy. They, therefore,established educational centers and schools to help allin this course. Religion, however, took the centralstage with the missionaries even offering some incentives for people to attend religion classes.
The fast growth of the religious education and the sophisticated manner, in which the missionaries organized it, soon got the attention of many politicians. They wanted to use these religious education forums to enhance their popularity. Indeed, some politicians vehemently yearned to be supported by missionaries in their political endeavors, since they believed that missionaries had”numbers”. Churches became the vehicles to propel politicians into power and were subsequently engraved into state matters. There a perception was developed that to ascend to power a politician must have some knowledge about religion and actively participate in it, so as to gain the sympatheticvotes from the churches. The political brawl soon developed around the church factor in the national and international politics, and some politicians moved motions in their respective assemblies to “separate the church from the state” (Jefferson).
Separation of Church from State Activities
In the U.S., for example, the First Amendment ordered the Congress never t make any law that would respect the establishment of religion or that contravened its free practice. The article IV of this amendment was categorical that no religious test would be used as a qualification to hold a public office in the U.S., however, some Evangelical Christians thatwere active in politics, like David Burton, argued that the U.S. could not be separated from religion as itsfounders were deeply religious making it asa religious nation. The separation of the church from the state, as put across by historians and lawyers, was declared a myth in the U.S. (Barton).
Subsequently to the separation of churches from the state, many of the established churches were banned, as they were seen as the threats to the unity of nations. In the U.S, for example, the president Gorge Washington argued, when the country has just acquired its independence, that incorporating religion in the state would lead to a single religious force across the nation. This, he said, would cause more harm than good to the newly found unity post-independence.
These proclamations and banning of church activities, however, did not stop the missionaries from instilling the teachings that God commanded us to instill in those being under our charge.
The Bible Commands for Teaching Children
God commanded children to be taught how to understand and practice the ten commandments of God. The book of Deuteronomy (6:7) urges that adults shall diligently teach the Ten Commandments“unto thy children, and shall talk of them…”The book then goes on to list the Ten Commandments in a manner that the children are more likely to understand. Instead of the long cumbersome statements in the commandments, they are easily stated as: “Have no other God”; “Have no Idols”; “Honor God’s name”; “Honor the Sabbath day”; “Do not perjure yourself”; “Honor your parents”; “Do not steal”; “Do not murder”; “Do not commit adultery”; and “Do not covet” (Deuteronomy 5).
To support the need for children to be taught God’s word so as to liberate, the book of Matthew (4:4) highlights the answer Jesus gave to Satan when the villain asked him to turn stone into bread when he had beenin the wilderness for 40 days. Jesus categorically stated that it is written in the scripture that “man will not live only by bread, but by all words that God says”(Matthew 4:4). These sentiments are echoed by Moses, who came and told the Israelites, whichhe had beenin chargeto, all the words and judgments of the Lord. The people then decided on their own that all the words that the Lord had said wouldbe done.
The knowledge of the word of God is shown to accord people to the opportunity to reserve an eternal life. This opportunity, the scripturessay, should be accorded to every person and, thus, the need to teach those we are in charge to of the word of God. Jesus emphasizes this sentiment in the book of John (5:39), when he urges his disciples to “search the scriptures, for in them you will find eternal life, and because they are the ones which testifies of me”. Jesus advised that it was the lack of knowledge of the word of God that had caused a man to err and that this word of God should be spread to all nations so as to liberate the human race. He confirmed that this was the will of God as it was he himself who had sent him and who had borne the witness of him even before his coming (John 5:37).
Religion had started earlier than most of us actually realized. It is central in the establishment of right and wrong. This sense of right and wrong has formed the bedrock of education that was offered from parents to children, from teachers to their students and from adults to the youth.
The separation of the church from the state tried to scuttle the spread of the religious education to the nations. In some instances, Christians were detained and even murdered for allegedly spreading falsehood and information that was dangerous to the security of nations. However, the devoted Christians guided by God’s commandments to teach his word to every person were not daunted and continued to spread the word of God into nations.
This paper has highlighted three of these commandments that had encouraged people to teach the word of God to, particularly, those people that had beenunder their charge.They are extracted from the books of Matthew, John, and Deuteronomy. All the commands seem to have a common goal of equipping every individual with the knowledge about God’s word so that they would make the informed decisions in the ways they were livingtheir lives and avoiding errors. As a reward, those that comply are assured of the eternal life.
The essence of the religious education was to instill the values of right and wrong into the society and to recognize the presence of a supernatural creature to be-God. However, churches turned into the established entities and started serving other interests, mainly political and economic. The goal to equip children with the knowledge of the word of God has been partially derailed. Indeed, the research has shown that in the U.S. six percent of the population cannot name 5 of 10 Commandments. There exists, therefore,the need to revisit the original purpose of religion differentiatingwhat is right from what is wrong.