So how do we explain this link between education policy and religious belief given that academic attainment itself isn’t a factor? It’s quite simple, really. Children learn more at school than reading, writing, and arithmetic. They imbibe a whole set of implied assumptions about what’s important in life. By excluding religious instruction from public schools, the government-run education system tacitly teaches students that religious commitments are not a first-order priority in life. Faith in God becomes a sort of optional weekend hobby akin to playing tennis or video games. Christ and Moses are treated by teachers and administrators like weapons or drugs — confiscated upon discovery.
In this way, the hierarchy of values communicated both explicitly and implicitly to students in American high schools excludes religious claims from the outset. College, career, and popularity become the existential targets toward which the arrow of each student’s soul is aimed by bow-wielding commissars across the country. In a context such as this, secularization becomes ineluctable. The New Testament itself says that religious belief is shaped more by the places we look for praise and validation than by naked ratiocinations: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you’re not looking for the glory which comes from the one and only God?” (John 5:44). But the secular public high school dispenses validation and praise according to different criteria than any of the major faiths. This is why government control of education has resulted in religious decline.