By: Ezra Taft Benson
Second, false educational ideas:
During the past several years many of our institutions of learning have been turning out an increasing number of students schooled in amorality, relativity, and atheism—students divested of a belief in God, without fixed moral principles or an understanding of our constitutional republic and our capitalistic, free enterprise economic system. This follows a pattern that was established years ago at some of our key colleges that produced many of the teachers and leaders in the educational field across the country today.
The fruits of this kind of teaching have been tragic, not only to the souls of the individuals involved, but also to the parents and even to our country.
When a survey was recently made among students asking which they would prefer, nuclear war or surrender to the communists, those campuses scored highest for surrender who had been most permeated by these cowardly teachings of false economic principles, atheism, and amorality. On one very liberal college campus 90 percent favored surrender. Other surveys on moral standards are equally alarming. More disturbing is the fact that the more college courses the students take on these campuses, the worse their thinking seems to become. Freshmen who have just left home or work do not seem as fully permeated with the brainwashing as do the seniors.
Some alumni of various schools have expressed concern. One alumnus from Yale wrote a book a few years ago entitled God and Man at Yale. Another group from Harvard established the Veritas Foundation and wrote a book, Keynes at Harvard, explaining the degree to which the destructive Fabian economic philosophy has permeated educational institutions and government. Concerned educators have begun to write books. Professor E. Merrill Root authored Collectivism on the Campus and Brainwashing in the High Schools. Dr. Max Rafferty wrote Suffer Little Children and What They Are Doing to Your Children.
In school history textbooks of recent years, some of the greatest phrases in American history have been dropped. This Week magazine surveyed history books issued before 1920 and since 1920. Patrick Henry's famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death," appeared in twelve out of the fourteen earlier texts, but in only two out of forty-five recent texts. Perhaps this might help explain the percentage of students who are willing to surrender to communism.
The whole process can be quite insidious. Young people know that the best jobs are available to college graduates. They want to do well at school. When exam time comes, they must give back to the teacher what the teacher wants. Now, under the guise of academic freedom—which some apparently feel is freedom to destroy freedom—some teachers reserve to themselves the privilege of teaching error, destroying faith in God, debunking morality, and depreciating our free economic system. If questions reflecting the teacher's false teachings appear on the exam, how will the student answer who believes in God and morality and our Constitution? One student put on his exam paper what he knew the professor wanted to see, but then the student added a little P.S., which said, "Dear Professor So-and-so: I just want you to know I don't believe one word of what I just wrote above."
These kinds of professors are not concerned about the truth or even giving both sides of a question that only has one right answer. They weigh the scales on the side of falsehood. If they can see there is another side, it usually gets but passing and belittling reference. To give the impression that they are objective, these professors often invite someone to present a different point of view in one lecture, while the professor spends the whole semester pointing out the other side.
Now truth, if given as much time and emphasis as error, will invariably prove itself. And if our young students could have as much time studying the truth as they and some of their professors have had time to study error, then there would be no question of the outcome. The problem arises when under the pressure of a heavy course of study and the necessity of parroting back what certain professors have said, the student does not have the time or take the time to learn the truth. If he does not learn the truth, some day he will suffer the consequences. Many an honest student, after graduation, has had to do some unlearning and then fresh learning of basic principles that never change and that he should have been taught initially.
These false educational ideas are prevalent in the world, and we have not entirely escaped them among teachers in our own system. There are a few teachers within the Church who, while courting apostasy, still want to remain members of the Church, for being members makes them more effective in misleading the Saints. But their day of judgment is coming, and when it does come, for some of them it would have been better, as the Savior said, that a millstone had been put around their necks and they had drowned in the depths of the sea, than to have led away any of the youth of the Church.
The Lord has stated that his church will never again be taken from the earth because of apostasy. But he has also stated that some members of his church will fall away. There has been individual apostasy in the past, it is going on now, and there will be an even increasing amount in the future. While we cannot save all the flock from being deceived, we should, without compromising our doctrine, strive to save as many as we can. For as President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., said, "We are in the midst of the greatest exhibition of propaganda that the world has ever seen." (Conference Report, October 1941, p. 16.)
Parents, stay close to your children; you cannot delegate your responsibility to the educators no matter how competent they may be. Parents have a duty to train their children, to talk over their problems with them, to discuss what they are learning at school. And it is neither wise nor safe to leave the determination of our educational system and policies exclusively to the professional educators.
Students, study the writings of the prophets. Fortunately, a consistent position has been taken over the years by the prophets of the Church on vital issues facing this nation. Pray for inspiration and knowledge. Counsel with your parents. Let Sunday be the day to fill up your spiritual batteries for the week by reading good Church books, particularly the Book of Mormon. Take time to meditate. Don't let the philosophies and falsehoods of men throw you. Hold on to the iron rod. Learn to sift. Learn to discern error through the promptings of the Spirit and your study of the truth.
Yes, false educational ideas are a serious threat today.
(Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 239.)