“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”—Proverbs 22:6

Hank MartinHistory is so rich, and so profoundly educational, and sadly so purposefully poorly taught. Even now, there is a move afoot, perhaps even successful in some school districts, to ignore American history prior to the civil war, or immediately thereafter. As per the often repeated quote by George Santayana,

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

I was struck by that when, while reading history, a reference to a group was included, in such a way as to assume that at the time of the writing, this term was as well-known then, as our society is widely cognizant of “American Idol” or the Kardashian’s today. The reference was to the janissaries. The janissaries of the Turks. Who were they? We might do well to learn, for sadly, they are alive and well amongst us.

In the 1400s, “janissaries” was the name assigned to the children of Christians who were abducted by the Ottoman Turks in the Byzantine Empire and from Constantinople. These janissaries had been taken as young children and had been taught the doctrines of Mohammedanism (The religion of Muslims; Islam). When they grew older, they were taught the arts of warfare according to the Ottoman Turks. By 1453, the janissaries were part of the army of Mohammed II that surrounded Constantinople, the remaining bastion of Christian influence. The Turks had taken all of the Byzantium except the capital city and in 1453, they surrounded that city. A siege of many weeks took place. Finally, in utter weariness, the defenders were no longer able to defend the city and the Ottoman Turks broke through the walls. As the defenders were endeavoring to flee out the back of the city, Mohammed II, who was in charge of the Ottoman army, decided that the janissaries, the children of the Christians, 20,000 strong, armed with shining blades, should lead the charge. Some 20,000 once-children of Christians, now fanatical soldiers of Islam, attacked the defenders and killed many hundreds and hundreds, who fell in agony and died in the despairing posture of their fall, stricken and smitten by the hands of their own children. The janissaries had come.

How does that small fact from six hundred years ago, make any difference or impact on us today? Because there are janissaries among us today. They were not abducted by the Ottomans, but their minds have been taken captive by the humanist schools of our own country. Students have been taught the doctrines of atheism and godlessness and immorality and they have often gone back to oppose vehemently the teachings of their own parents. In desperation all across America, parents have decried “What has happened? Where did I go wrong? How could my children have so completely turned his back on what I taught them when they were a child?

The answer is simple and self-evident, the child has learned well from the teachers in school. This struggle for the minds and hearts of young people has been going on since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. It is, by and large, successful and complete in the public schools. Consider the writings of Orestes Brownson, one of the humanist socialist educators of America. What was original idea and how was “public education” conceived? What was its objective? Despite the propaganda otherwise, it was not simply to provide equal and free education for everyone. No. The chief aim and purpose was something far more devious, and we are now currently reaping and witnessing, the crops of what was sown. What is the primary purpose of the move towards public education for our students? Read for yourselves the following from The Works of Orestes Brownson, 1828:

“The great object was to get rid of Christianity [The reason Horace Mann started the public school system back in the 1820s and ’30s, was to take education out of the hands of the church and the clergyman, [where it had been for over 200 years at that time.] and to convert our churches into halls of science. The plan was not to make open attacks upon religion, although we might belabor the clergy and bring them into contempt where we could, but to establish a system of state—we said national-schools, from which all religion was to be excluded. . . The plan has been successfully pursued . . . and the whole action of the country on the subject has taken the direction we sought to give it.”

Sound familiar? Remember the former Soviet Union. The battle is longstanding. This quote from Paul Blanshard—who was an American author, assistant editor of The Nation magazine, lawyer, socialist, secular humanist, and an outspoken critic of Catholicism—speak volumes:

“I think the most important factor moving us toward a secular society has been the educational factor. Our schools may not teach Johnny to read properly, but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is sixteen tends toward the elimination of religious superstition.”

That “religious superstition,” is the gospel of Jesus Christ! By any means of logical observation, the plan has succeeded in producing a system of national schools which have rid our country—our public schools, at least—from every vestige of religion.

The results are twofold. One, the educational standards of this country have plummeted. The past forty-three years has seen SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores descend like an asteroid falling from space. There is no coincidence in the fact that this trend commenced shortly after prayer and the Bible were taken out of the public schools. Second, it has produced a tidal wave of immorality that could hardly have been imagined just sixty years ago. So education has suffered and morality has suffered with it.

When John Adams was the second President of the United States, a study of the educational level of America demonstrated that only one American in a thousand could not read and write neatly. Today there are almost thirty-two million adults in the U.S. that are unable to read. That’s fourteen percent of the population. Twenty-one percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and nineteen percent of high school graduates are unable to read. These are people who, thanks to a failed educational system, are unable to read the instructions on a bottle of medicine. They are unable to read a map or a road sign. They are unable look up a name in the telephone directory, or follow the directions to get the smartphone app, to do so. They can’t read the names of products in grocery stores or drug stores. They are rendered incapable of living in today’s modern world, where almost everything is associated with some form of computerized means of communication. This has been one of the results of ridding our schools of God.

The other result concerns morals. I am obviously dating myself here, but I remember early on, learning to read from a McGuffey Reader. The McGuffey’s Reader was the product of William H. McGuffey, a Presbyterian clergyman, an educator, president of a college, and many other accomplishments. Here is the opinion of McGuffey on the importance of Christianity in America:

“The Christian religion, is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.”

The McGuffey’s Reader had an enormous impact on this country in the last century. Published in 1836, over 122 million copies of them were sold, and they indeed held back the tidal wave for almost a century. McGuffey believed:

“If you can induce a community to doubt the genuineness and authenticity of the Scriptures; to question the reality and obligations of religion; to hesitate, undeciding, whether there is any such thing as virtue or vice; whether there be an eternal state of retribution beyond the grave; or whether there exists any such being as God, you have broken down the barriers of moral virtue and hoisted the flood gates of immorality and crime.”

Fortunately for this country, McGuffey did a great deal toward holding on to the Christian foundations of this country, as did, Noah Webster, who produced the Blue-backed Speller, which, like the McGuffey’s Reader, contained Christian teaching and doctrine and Christian morality and ethics. Those sold 100 million copies during the nineteenth century. But, at that same time, there were termites, (like Brownson) that were working to totally transform our schools into godless, irreligious schools where there was no moral standard at all. We are now reaping that whirlwind.

Today we hear a great deal about “values clarification.” Many parents have never figured out what that is. Simply put, it means that children are taught to make up their own moral standard. Anything they want that is important to them, and then to live by that standard, whether that is following the golden rule or snatching purses. That is not relevant because the teachers can’t tell them that anything is wrong or right, because nothing is wrong or right. Everything is relative. I can remember this insanity commencing when I was a child. At Stony Point Elementary School, we started the new program called MACOS, (Man, a Course of Study). One scenario described how two brothers in Alaska were traveling and one of them had his foot frozen, and so his brother cut off his foot to help him. When he was hungry, he ate the foot, and then he ate the leg, and then he ate the whole boy. The teacher then posed the following question “Now, who are you to judge that boy?” There are no absolutes. What is right for him is right for him. It may not be right for us. What is right for us may not be right for him. There are no absolutes at all. The result? Today we have thirty-two million illiterates and millions more young people who have never been taught any moral standard whatsoever. Yet, the Founder of this country, George Washington, said something we need to hear repeatedly. He said:

“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.

Let us be cautious to indulge the supposition that you can have morality without religion. It has never happened. Anybody can make up a moral code—but getting people to live by it, that’s a horse of several different colors. Washington goes on to say:

“Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Thus said George Washington, the Father of our Country. And we have attempted, supposedly, in our schools to do just that and the results have been catastrophic.

We now find our nation in a moral collapse, but in an educational collapse as well. What do the schools say? They say the problem is very simple: We need more money! That is the most specious argument that could possibly be put forth, at least by anyone possessed with the capability of critical thinking skills. America spends far more money per student than any other nation in the world. What then is our return on investment? In comparative tests of American students with the industrialized nations of the West, American students regularly score last in two categories and first in none. We have passed the level of Albania and have reached the educational level of Zambia and the Ivory Coast. Honest educators have properly gauged exactly where America has declined educationally, and have pointed out that we have lost one month’s educational level per year. That is, the level at which students graduate from high school has dropped one month per year. So that at current statistically recorded performances every decade we drop a whole school year. Meaning that currently we are seven years behind where we were seventy years ago. Could that really be true? Consider a few questions from an exam:

  • In what state and on what body of water are the following cities? Chicago, Duluth, Cleveland, and Buffalo?”
  • Who built the Panama Canal?
  • Name five republics and three monarchies.
  • What is the length of a rectangular field 80 rods wide that contains 100 acres?
  • A wagon is 10 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 28 inches deep; how many bushels of wheat will it hold?
  • A rope 500 feet long is stretched from the top of a tower; it reaches the ground 300 feet from the base of the tower. How high is the tower?
  • Write a brief biography of Evangeline.

This was not a college graduation exam. That is not even a college entrance exam. That is not a high school graduation exam. That is an entrance exam into high school in 1911! Sobering isn’t it? Today’s average American middle-school student couldn’t even get into the high schools of 1911, and we’re running around celebrating the worth of college degrees!

An orthography quiz from that same era required students to spell twenty words, including elucidation and animosity. An arithmetic question required students to find the interest on an eight percent note for nine hundred dollars running two years, two months, six days. We’ve got high school graduates who can’t make change at McDonalds and can barely even ring up the right product with pictures on the register screen! Reading questions required students to give the meanings of words such as panegyric and eyrie. Geography’s questions were: “Name two countries producing large quantities of wheat, two of cotton, two of coal”. History required information such as “name the principle political questions which have been advocated since the Civil War and the party which advocated each.”

Yes, we are dropping one year every decade in academic achievement in this country, but we have gotten God out of our schools. Impressive! How proudly todays academic leaders are of their achievement and desire even more finances in order to continue the good work. What are the real results of “free public education”? The headlines say it all. Teachers having sex with students, students beating/killing teachers and fellow students, rampant cheating, both by the students and the administrators changing scores to qualify for more federal funding, etc, etc.

In the 1400s, it was the Turks who turned the children of Christians. Today, the humanists have been very busy and they have been turning our students into janissaries of their own. How many parents have said, “Where did I go wrong? I provided them the best education. Sent them to Harvard.” You might just as well have shipped them to Saudi Arabia in 1450. Parents want their children to have a good financial future, but often they destroy their souls in the process, and losing a nation as well. How many parents have sent their children to public schools and colleges because it was going to look good on their resume and help them get a good job, only to find they come back unbelievers who want nothing to do with their religion, in a now failed economy largely due to corruption, in which they cannot get a job capable of repaying the loans? Yes indeed, there are many janissaries among us in our time.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). That involves beginning such training when children are in the cradle. In the first few days and weeks of their lives we should begin to train them. During those first months and early years, some of the most important training is being given in training up a child. Children are going to become what the adults in their lives are at heart unless you deliver them over to mind-twisters who are going to turn them into something else—in which case, like it or not, you are inadvertently making them what you are at heart.

Interestingly, the Hebrew word “train” comes from a root which means “narrow.” Now if there is one thing which our modern academicians do not like, it is anything that is narrow. They want their students to be broad—to accept all cultures and all religions and all ideas. That they should discriminate between anything being good and anything being evil is absolutely the unforgivable sin. Yet, God tells us “narrow is the way which leadeth unto life and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction” (Matthew 7:13–14). We must be able to discriminate, not between skin color of people, but between evil and good.

But modernists have maintained that everything is broad, everything is good, and there is nothing basically evil. We are to train our children in the way they should go. We are to teach them the commandments of God. We are to teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because our Founding fathers knew that without the gospel of Jesus Christ, without Christianity, America would become as it now is.  John Adams warned how tragically our nation would end, should we cease the teachings of the gospel. He stated:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

What America has devolved into is of little surprise to those of us who know history, but find ourselves dragged into hell by those who refuse to even study history. The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks…

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HANK MARTIN is an Albemarle native, a graduate of Albemarle High School and PVCC majoring in Business Management. He has an extensive history of participating in the local Cub and Boy Scout Programs, both as a Scout and later as Scout Master, as well as having been a member of the Monticello Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. He has also served as a leader in church youth character building programs, such as AWANA's and the Royal Ambassadors. He is an avid student of both Biblical and world history as well as Biblical prophecy. He participated in the adoption of the school anti-bullying legislation sponsored by delegate Rob Bell. In 2006, in response to proposed ordinances by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors regarding property rights, he founded and chaired Forever Albemarle, a personal property rights group. He resides in Albemarle County with his wife, and one of their two sons, the other now a resident out of state.


  1. You’re right that educational standards have declined drastically (and please don’t ask to test my math skills), and you make other good points as well. But it’s ironic that you preach about knowing history but repeat the simplistic notion – essentially an ideologically self-serving falsehood – that the Founding Fathers all thought we would flounder without Christianity.

    I would also note that as immoral as our society in some ways is now by Christian standards, it is no less concerned with morality. It just isn’t listening to us on that subject anymore. Is it possible we bear some of the responsibility for this state of affairs? One would think from your post that self-professed Christians aren’t still sinners, that we haven’t helped make the mess we’re in. A reading of, say, Old Testament history, or of the Apostle Paul, would suggest that’s highly unlikely.

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