By: Dr. Jerry Bergman
Articles about the decline in attendance and influence of Christianity in America has been widely reported by the press.
A March 23, 2021, headline in The Bryan Times reported that less than half of Americans are now members of a house of worship.
One organization, attempting to do something about the problem and has managed to produce very positive results, is LifeWise Academy.
The program was launched in 2019 by Joel Penton in Van Wert, Ohio. The program uses release-time-from-school system that requires students to be bussed to a different location off of school grounds for the instruction.
For Montpelier, the class location is the nearby Church of the Nazarene located on the same street as the Montpelier school. The release program has been approved by the courts and, so-far, has received glowing reports.
Many communities in this area have enrolled over 60 percent of eligible students. The class, which ranges in size from 15 to 25 students, meets once a week for about one hour. It is staffed with several teachers to maintain proper discipline. And order.
Openly religious instruction was at one time central to public education. This education helped students in their moral development and gave them a set of community wide values.
The Bible and McGuffey Readers were once standard textbooks used in public schools for decades. The government focus was on Protestant education, so the Catholic Church started its own schools as did the Jews.
Then, in the 1950s, court rulings slowly forced public schools to become more and more secular. Soon they became totally secular and non-religious, if not anti-religious.
Academic performance standards in many schools dropped, and misbehavior increased, as did truancy and vandalism. These problems were far less in Catholic and Hebrew schools, and the achievement in these schools often was superior to the public schools.
For this reason, many non-Catholic parents who could afford the tuition sent their children to Catholic schools.
Many educators and others realized that removing religious education resulted in many negative consequences.
Reasons for the decline of quality education in public schools include they lost education’s fundamental purpose of producing well-rounded students who succeeded in their work, family, and life.
Enter LifeWise that produced a program which focuses, not only on academic achievement, but character development, mental and social health, and community involvement.
The LifeWise program covers knowing what the Bible teaches, and learning about God and His will for us, ourselves, and our world.
The program covers the human heart and soul, examining how the Bible accounts ties into, and points to, the big picture of creation. The last goal is to explore ways students can live out the changed character that the program stresses.
The lessons begin with Genesis, helping students understand that, in the beginning God created everything, the Earth, the universe, and all life.
God made all of creation including light, land, sky, stars, planets, and all of the plants and animals. God then pronounced His creation very good.
Creation was perfect, as God intended, until the fall. The LifeWise five-year program covers all 66 books of the Bible ending with the Book of Revelation.
I am not aware how carefully the creation-evolution issue will be covered. I do know the research that determined thousands of persons who knew the scriptures, and had some knowledge of the science against Darwinism, did not survive the evolutionary indoctrination common in high schools and colleges today.
Especially, introductory biology classes, the classes that I taught, are very heavy on the claimed evidence for evolution, including the fossil record, vestigial organs, homology, ontology recapitulates phylogeny, junk DNA, biogeography, anatomical similarities among living organisms including DNA and embryos. Students need to be able to respond to these claims with facts.
Regardless, the results of research show a reverse correlation between religious measures and deviance, drug and alcohol abuse, and a positive relationship (a direct correlation) with mental health, life satisfaction, a more positive self-perception, and greater academic achievement. LifeWise may help to change our community.