Are Public Schools Teaching Our Children New Age Religious Views? – Program 1

By: Johanna Michaelson, Craig Branch; ©1992
Children in our schools are being taught techniques that many parents might object to. How can you find out if your child in engaged in these activities?

Should Parents Be Concerned about What Their Children Learn in Public School?


Announcer: Many parents used to ask their children without fear: What did you do at school today? But now, many, many parents are experiencing shock when they find out what their child is being taught in their local public school.


Eric Buehrer: We need to warn parents today that education has taken a dangerous turn. There are those in the public schools who want to turn the child against the values of the parent; turn the child against the values of the church; even turn them against the values that we have as an American government. Our system of democracy and freedom – those things are being destroyed by some in education and we need to be aware that occultism, Eastern mysticism, even socialism are being taught in the public schools today. Parents need to know what’s going on.
Announcer: So, are the public schools teaching our children New Age occult and religious views?
Johanna Michaelsen: Picture if you will, a scene where little children are stretched out on the floor, told to take deep breaths, and are taken in their minds to a special place – a temple where they meet a holy, wise person, a guide, their own wise person, who will give them the meaning of life. Picture a place where little children are introduced to those spirit guides, where they’re taught the basics of astrology, chanting “Om,” the basics of yoga. Your local ashram? No! These things, under the guise of the latest educational psychology, are being taught to your children in the local schools.
Announcer: If you are concerned about your children and what they are learning at your local public school, then I invite you to join us for today’s program.

Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome. Do you ever wonder what your children are being taught at school? Well, maybe you’ve heard the rumors about some children being subjected to courses filled with New Age religious ideas, occult techniques, and even hypnotherapy and other mind-altering practices. But you probably figured, “Well, that kind of stuff would never be taught in the schools in our town!” But before you say that, I want you to listen to Craig Branch, who is the Southeastern director of Watchman Fellowship and is an expert on New Age religion and occult education.
Craig Branch: Teachers are being faced with a growing number of problem children in the area of sex and drug and alcohol abuse and coming from dysfunctional homes. What are they doing about it? Unfortunately, many are using programs that utilize Eastern meditation and mysticism, usually under the rubrics of stress reduction, guided imagery and visualization or programs to prevent alcohol and drug abuse.
Ankerberg: Did you hear what Craig Branch just said? Well, hold on to your hats! There are still other classes in which Craig found this same kind of material being taught. As you listen, ask yourself this: “Are my children in any of these kinds of classes?”
Branch: Materials are coming through various channels – through gifted children’s curricula, the programs for gifted children; through self-esteem programs, guidance counselors. Many schools are now implementing mandatory guidance counseling programs and curricula. It’s coming through health courses; some literature courses; home economics. It’s widespread throughout the entire spectrum of courses in the public schools.
Ankerberg: Most likely you realize your children are currently in one or more of the classes Craig just mentioned, and that’s the problem. Such classes are increasingly becoming the doorway through which New Age religious ideas, occult practices, and hypnotherapeutic techniques are being introduced and taught to our children in the public schools. Now, during this series we’re going to examine many of these different courses; but in today’s program, we will look at those that primarily fall into the category of self-esteem classes. I asked Johanna Michaelsen, who has authored two best-selling books, The Beautiful Side of Evil and Like Lambs to the Slaughter, to define and comment on the term “self-esteem.” Listen.
Johanna Michaelsen: Well, you’re asking me a difficult question, because I personally loathe the term self-esteem, whether it’s used in the church, whether used in the secular realms of the classrooms, because there you’re focusing on self. Self-this, self-that. Yes, it’s important for children to have a healthy concept of who they are. Yes, it’s important to communicate to children that they can achieve. I see Scriptures telling us to esteem others higher than yourself. I see Scriptures saying look away from self, look to the Source, look to God. And while on the one hand, yes, we need to teach children that they are competent and they can achieve and give them the tools to do that, at the same time, when we begin talking self-esteem, self-concept, self-…, the whole focus is in the wrong place.
Ankerberg: Now, notice, concerning self-esteem, Johanna believes the whole focus of the public schools is wrong. Well, I asked Johanna, as well as Eric Buehrer, the man who has authored the excellent book, The New Age Masquerade: The Hidden Agenda in Your Child’s Classroom, to document for us the actual public school curriculums that led them to conclude that the schools’ self-esteem courses are not accomplishing their goals; rather, they are introducing destructive New Age religious beliefs, occult practices, and inappropriate hypnotherapeutic mind-altering techniques. Well, here are the examples they gave.
Eric Buehrer: Well, one of the most recent things that’s come to our attention in Los Angeles is a program that actually has the children contacting the dead. It seems unbelievable but it’s supposed to be a self-esteem course; and in Mission S.O.A.R., this is the curriculum right here, actually had the children contacting the dead and asking the dead for goals in life and what they should do to have a better life and enhance…
Ankerberg: How is it labeled in the curriculum?
Buehrer: One program, for instance, was called “Workshop and Helpers.” You learn to relax in a relaxation state and in that state you meet two helpers who come to you and these are spiritual beings and not imaginary. It says to ask them what their names are and they will tell you.
Ankerberg: What’s the purpose in school for doing this?
Buehrer: Well, it’s supposed to be to combat gang violence and raise the self-esteem of children. But it really didn’t do that at all. It introduced them to spirit guides. It introduced them to really attempting to contact the dead.
Ankerberg: This is Los Angeles. A lot of people say, “Well, we always knew that was going in on Los Angeles,” but how about the rest of the country?
Buehrer: Interestingly enough, we were able to stop the program in Los Angeles temporarily. But we know that the director of the program has already gone to Washington and New Mexico promoting the program in other states. So, it’s not just confined to the LA area.
Ankerberg: Okay. Johanna what do you have there?
Michaelsen: Well, in New Mexico you’ve got a similar kind of program that parents there have been battling called the DUSO Program: Developing Understanding of Self and Others. And despite the fact that over 350 parents went to the state board and the Department of Education and said: We do not want our children led through guided imagery, visualization techniques that have their roots in Hinduism and Eastern religious practices. We do not want our kids being introduced to spirit guides. Despite the fact that they even had six state senators, passed State Senate Memorial #45, in which they came out and clearly stated that we do not want occultism and mind-altering projects in our schools, the school board said, we do what we want; we are the authorities. The program has stayed intact.
Buehrer: In Arizona there is a company that produces curriculum that is used throughout the United States in which the children are taught that trees actually have spirits in them, that the water has spirits and that rocks have spirits in them. They say this is wonderful for the kids because now they’ll never need to be lonely in this world where parents are working and so forth. Now they know that they can contact a tree, and they can hug a rock and they can talk to a tree. They’ll never be lonely now. Pantheism.
Ankerberg: That’s basically New Age pantheism – God is all and all is God. And so you can talk to these living things, such as rocks and trees.
Buehrer: That’s a program called “I Am Power.”
Ankerberg: Now, if you are really intent in getting to the bottom of all of this in order to protect your children, you must be prepared to learn the new scientific sounding terminology that educators are using today in education. Their terminology tends to hide the truth from parents. And Johanna Michaelsen explains:
Michaelsen: Well, you’re absolutely right, John. Most of the teachers who are involved themselves in the New Age Movement or the Human Potential Movement aren’t going to show up at the local school board one morning and blithely announce that they plan to convert the entire campus into a little New Age Hindu ashram and turn all your kids into little shamans and neo-pagans. What I’m finding is that they’re using “scientific” terminology. They will come and say, “Look, the latest educational trends that we have now, we’ve gone through Freudian stage where, you know, all the little kids were having behavioral problems because they weren’t properly potty-trained; and then we had the behaviorists there with the Skinnerian programs; and then you had the humanist program that came. Now we’ve got the fourth wave: transpersonal psychology. And this is a term that was coined, John, by Abraham Maslow and others during the human potential movement there. And before he died, Abraham Maslow, the great humanist psychologist, said, “You know what? Man is more than just this over-qualified monkey. They’re something that’s a spirit, something that goes beyond the five senses, beyond the human – transpersonal.”
What they’re talking about is occultism. They will acknowledge that in their own materials. In fact, one teacher back in 1974 in the magazine that’s designed for the educational elite, the Phi Delta Kappan, talked about “Transpersonal: the New Educational Philosophy.” This is back in 1974. They’ve been at it for a long time. We’re just becoming really aware of it now because of the nature of how it’s spreading.
Buehrer: Well, they’ve become more sophisticated in how they bring it in.
Michaelsen: Yes, exactly. And they’re considerably more blatant about how they’re bringing it in, too. But what they’re talking about here is teaching the kids how to meditate, teaching the kids how to use guided imagery/visualization techniques, to meet, “Oh, no!” mind you, “not their spirit guides,” say these teachers. No, no. If you’re in school districts that might object to terms like meditation or spirit guides, hey, pick any name you want. Call it “centering and relaxation techniques.” Bring it in under the “left brain/right brain.” I’ll tell you, that’s one of the big, big monkeys that we’re seeing in the school system now.
Ankerberg: Now, parents usually ask, “At what grade levels do children first encounter these New Age and occult ideas?” Craig Branch explains:
Branch: Our research and experience, both from reading their materials and testimonials from parents and children all over the country, shows that it’s coming through kindergarten – starts in kindergarten and goes all the way up through high school and to college.
Ankerberg: Next, I asked Craig to be specific about what parents should object to concerning some of these courses and this is what he said:
Branch: There are two aspects to the curricula that are objectionable. One is the use of meditation techniques or hypnosis techniques with the children, purportedly to enhance their performance, their productivity, to reduce stress, to solve their problems, to raise their self esteem. And the other aspect of the objection is the use of what they call the affective, which means feeling-oriented, non-directive decision-making processes when it comes to drug and sex education and death education. Basically they’re teaching the children they have to be empowered, they can be empowered to make their own choices about whether or not to use drugs or alcohol or to be engaged in premarital sex. We’re not talking about seniors and juniors in high school, we’re talking about elementary school children and junior high children.
Ankerberg: Now, maybe you’re wondering on what basis are these self-esteem curriculums sold to our educators in the first place? Well, Eric Buehrer tells us:
Buehrer: These programs are sold to school districts on what seems to be “good logic,” but really it’s logic that doesn’t make any sense when you look at the research. It does seem to make sense that if you have kids feeling good about themselves, they’ll achieve more in school. Unfortunately, the research is just the opposite. If kids achieve more in school, they’ll feel good about themselves and the research on that goes back to the 1960s. And, in fact, even American School Board Journal, July, 1991 issue, had a great expose on the nonsense of a lot of these self-esteem courses and how they need to be based more on academic achievement and less on these kinds of gimmicks.
Another problem with the self-esteem courses and how they get sold to school districts, though, is that they prey on the ignorance of the administrators or educators regarding the human brain and our own psyche and they say, “Well, you know, we only use a small part of our brain and so by doing these altered states of consciousness we’re tapping into new areas of the brain and this is going to help kids learn. It’s going to help them achieve more. It’s going to help them calm down. It’s going to help them feel better about themselves.” Since it all comes in a kind of pseudo-scientific package and the programs are very slick and they all come in wonderfully colored packages and it seems like the right thing to do and everybody, of course, wants kids to feel good about themselves, so they buy into the program. But if you challenge the research and you say, “I want to see the actual research,” they can’t show it to you. It simply doesn’t exist.
Ankerberg: Now, the crux of the matter is this: Are these self-esteem courses harmful to our children? Will these courses eventually hurt us as a people and as a country? Well, to answer this, I want you to listen to Dennis Prager, who is host of his own television talk show on KABC in Los Angeles. He is on the air eight hours a week and has the number one rated secular talk show at its time in all of Southern California. Listen to what he has to say about these self-esteem programs.
Dennis Prager: Everybody’s yelling “Self-Esteem!” Here in California we have a task force on Self-Esteem and Social Responsibility or something like that. The belief is that there’s a direct relationship between self-esteem and goodness or evil. There is no statistical or even commonsensical basis for that. I have read on, goodness, almost everything there is to be read. There is no correlation. There are people who do massive good who have low self-esteem. There are people who’ll do massive evil who have high self-esteem. I like self-esteem. I just don’t think it’s the big moral thing that people make it out to be.
So anyway, I will talk to people about…the secular guy will call me up and say, “You know, you’re talking about the need for religion and so on, well, I’ve got my own code.” And I will say, “Well, could you send it to me? Where can I look it up?” I can tell you where you can look mine up. Okay. You can look in my Torah. You can look in the Bible. You can look…I can give you 20 Maimonides and you have to hold me accountable of that. Could you tell me where your code is? “Well, it’s in my head.” So, it’s “you make up your code.” What if everybody – forget now morality – what if everybody made up their own traffic rules? All right, it’s a very sensitive issue of ethics. Talk about traffic. I’ve got my traffic rules. I can’t show them to you. I have them. They’re not the city’s; they’re not the state’s; they’re mine. Why will there not be anarchy in life as there would be anarchy on the roads if everybody made up their own traffic laws?
Ankerberg: Another person who is eminently qualified to talk about the harmful effects self-esteem classes are having on our students is Dr. William Colson. He has two earned Ph.D.s and is a licensed psychologist. He was an associate and chief of staff for the famous psychologist Carl Rogers. I asked Dr. Colson to name some of the current public school curriculums that in his opinion are harmful to our children. Listen:
Dr. William Coulson: There are programs with names like DUSO and… Duso the Dolphin, a little creature – Quest program has something in the lower grades called Q Bear. There’s a program called Positive Action which has what they call “worry rocks.” There’s a program called Pumsy, “Pumsy the Dragon.” Somehow these are supposed to be wise persons residing within the child so that the direction of learning turns away from the world, away from what tradition is able to tell them and what the sciences are able to tell them toward what they’re able to discover by looking within.
There’s a program called “The Michigan Model of Comprehensive Health Education” where in the 7th grade the teachers read the kids down into a trance by counting backwards from ten: ten, nine, eight – you’re getting sleepier and sleepier. Well, they’re not competent to do that. There is, for example, in a program called “Get Set” in Topeka, Kansas, it’s supposed to be an alcohol education program and instead they’re instructing the children, “visualize on the screen inside of your mind total darkness, total blackness. If any thoughts come into your mind that you do not want, visualize surrounding them with a bubble and letting them float up out of your conscious.” And this goes on for three pages and the children are led into a peaceful glade with a campfire within themselves somewhere and then suddenly they meet the Wise Person. People who are knowledgeable about Eastern religions – I’m not one of them – but they say this is a spirit guide. And I say, “Maybe so.” But look at the alternative. Maybe it’s the child himself who is being tricked into thinking that he’s wise but he’s not wise. If he doesn’t have input, nothing’s going to come out of there except disaster.
Ankerberg: Finally, I’ve asked Dr. Colson, if parents really are concerned about their kids being subjected to these kinds of programs, what should they do? Here’s what he said:
Colson: Before God no one has more responsibility for the welfare of those children than mom and dad do. And God will not hold someone else responsible for their harm before He will hold mom and dad responsible. So at whatever cost, get the kids out of that kind of influence and as I say, if you have to leave them in there, make sure that they’re in there with the right attitude and that is the attitude of working to uncover what’s wrong with it, not letting it affect them directly.

Read Part 2

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