Monday, August 10, 2009

Benjamin Rush, Founder, Supporter of Religion in Education

Benjamin Rush is one of our foremost founders. He is one of the signers of Declaration of Independence (and was also founder and manager of the Philadelphia Bible Society).

He is given credit for being one of the most important men in creating the Sunday School movement in America. He also believed that public school must have a strong religious/moral component.

The following is from the book "Death of Character" by James Davison Hunter:

As Benjamin Rush insisted in his own plan for education in Pennsylvania in 1786, "religioun is the foundation of virtue; virtue is the foundation of liberty; liberty is the object of all republican governments; therefore, a republican education should promote religion as well as virtue and liberty.

The book goes on to discuss how other states also considered religion necessary to public education:

Such a position was reinforced by statutes within various state constitutions. Massachusetts's constitution, ratified in 1789 [Ed: the same year the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified], called for the "support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality"; this was reaffirmed by the state legislature in 1827. The New Hampshire constitution, framed in 1784, provided state support for "public protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality" on the ground that "morality and piety, rightly grounded on evangelical principles, will give the best and greatest security to government. ... In all schools everywhere, piety and good character remained the requirements for teachers.

See more in the Google Books excerpt.

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