Are Public Schools Teaching Our Children New Age Religious Views? – Program 6

By: Johanna Michaelson, Craig Branch; ©1992
Little research has been done on many of the practices being used in our schools, but some disturbing information has come from interviewing students who have been involved in, for example, values clarification classes.

Does Scientific Research Reveal any Harm from The New Age Practices in Our Schools?


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.

Ankerberg: Welcome. According to the experts that we’ve been listening to in this series of programs, American education is at a turning point. Moms and dads need to be aware of some of the new courses and curriculums that have entered the public schools. Eric Buehrer and Johanna Michaelsen explain:
Buehrer: Today in education we are facing a crisis both in how we are teaching our kids about our country and how we are teaching about their own morals, values and religious faith. We’re turning our kids into world citizens and preparing them for a world religion.
Michaelsen: Under the guise of transpersonal education, children are being led in guided imagery visualizations to contact their spirit guides, the same techniques used by shamans for thousands years to meet their spirit guides. Under the guise of relaxation techniques like physical exercise, children are being taught the ancient mystical practices of yoga, they’re being taught how to chant, they’re being taught in art classes how to draw mandalas. They’re being taught how to use biofeedback machines. In reading classes, they’re learning how to spell words like witchcraft, and pagan. They’re learning about doing witchcraft rituals to see if they themselves can become witches. Parents, you need to know that these things are not isolated in a few districts. These things are being taught in schools across the country. You must become aware of what is going on!
Ankerberg: Now, why is there such an emphasis in education today to teach our children to talk to imaginary animal friends and spirit guides? Eric Buehrer gives this report when I asked, what title would they put that under?
Michaelsen: Relaxation.
Ankerberg: Relaxation for what? Even in kindergarten kids have stress?
Michaelsen: Oh, absolutely.
Buehrer: Oh, yeah. They’re hyperactive. They come in from recess all hyped up, we’ve got to calm them down. In Washington for instance, in Ferndale, Washington, it’s called calm down time, any term that says calm down, relax, reduce your stress. Jack Canfield, a leading New Ager, said a few years ago that the reason why they must target children is because children are closer to the spirits, not being encumbered by all the adult experiences that we’ve experienced so far. They’re more open and listen to the spirits. So actually we can be guided in the future by getting children contact with spirits and then the children will lead us because they’re more open to the spiritual.
Ankerberg: Some people might be out there saying, “Hey, I want my kid to relax and to have these experiences. I want them to delve into that.” What’s wrong with that?
Buehrer: Well, what’s wrong with it is, one, when they’re doing that, first of all, they’re putting them in a hypnotic trance. For instance, in the program Mission SOAR, it’s undoubtedly a hypnotic state that they’re putting them in. In fact, the program is so close to another program called “Beyond Hypnosis,” which is blatantly an occultic program, that you can actually accuse them of plagiarizing out of that program. They’re hypnotizing the kids and then giving them autosuggestion in how to relax, that when you see certain colors that you will automatically relax. I don’t think parents send their kids to school to be hypnotized. But that’s just on one level.
The second level is, once they get into the hypnotic state, they are inviting spiritual beings to come to them and this program is very blatant. It says, “Hey, kids, we’re going to teach you a method where you can contact somebody who is either living or dead. It doesn’t matter if they’re real or imaginary, living or dead, after today you’ll be able to contact them.” The Los Angeles program tells the children, after they have visited with their helper…
Ankerberg: Again, this was in the textbook, now. Third grade level.
Buehrer: Yes. Third grade. It says, “Your helpers are both experts and can help you, teach you, guide you, listen to you and counsel you any time. Know that he or she will always be there at your right side whenever you need them.” Now, that is telling the children that any time you get stressed out and need counsel, need help, don’t turn to a religious faith; don’t turn to your parents; don’t turn to any other institution like the church. No, go to these spiritual guides. They’ll give you the advice that you need.
Ankerberg: Next, what does the scientific research reveal about these programs? Well, it shows that they do not accomplish their purpose. They just don’t work. And in addition, they can be harmful to our children. Listen.
Buehrer: I don’t care if you’re looking at Pumsy, DUSO, Quest, self-esteem programs, calm down times, centering, balancing, relaxation techniques – it doesn’t matter. If you ask for research, Does this really work? Did you have a control group? And did you have an experimental group? And did you watch how the results went with those groups? You won’t have research that backs up what these programs are claiming.
Ankerberg: Now, parents must also be concerned about how values clarification classes affect their children. What happens when students are not taught absolute values? Well, Dennis Prager has the number one radio talk show on KABC in Los Angeles. He tells what has happened when he has taught in the public schools that stealing is wrong. Listen:
Prager: I asked a group of high school students years ago, “If you were absolutely certain you would get away with it, you’re in a store and you really want something badly. You know you could shoplift. It’s not a question: no one will know. Would you take it?” A lot of kids said they’d take it. Now, here is the great part. I said, “That’s stealing.” And so they said to me, “Mr. Prager, if you feel that’s stealing, then for you it’s wrong. Hey, we’re not going to impose our values on you!” I loved that. That was classic. Listen, if you think it’s wrong, don’t do it, but who are you to tell us? And they’re right. I can’t tell them it’s wrong; only God can tell them it’s wrong. I’m no more valuable than they are. So it’s my opinion versus theirs. It’s Hitler’s opinion versus your opinion; Stalin’s opinion versus your opinion – it’s all opinion! And, you know, it’s amazing to me that people could look at the gradual decline of the ethics of our society and not in any way relate it to the breakdown of religious values.
Ankerberg: We also ought to keep in mind that values clarification classes also change the way students value human life. Dennis Prager explains:
Prager: I have asked all over, and you have heard this, I’ve asked high school students, “Would you save your dog or a stranger first if both were drowning?” One third vote for the dog; one third vote for the stranger; one third find the question too difficult to answer. Two-thirds of our brightest kids would not save a person before their dog. And why? “I love my dog; I don’t love the stranger.” They don’t have a code, they have an emotion.
Now, it’s true. I have two dogs. I love them more than strangers, too. How could I love a stranger more than a dog that I’ve been petting for five years? That’s a given. But it’s equally a given that if my beloved dog were drowning and a person I never met in my life were drowning, of course, I’d save the person, because I am governed by a system of values, not by a system of emotions. My emotions are for my dog; my values are for the stranger. We don’t teach kids that. We teach them, “Whatever you emote, that’s wonderful.”
And what I do with kids is I show them the whole point of values is because you have to fight your emotions. There are times when you have to say to yourself, “I want X. X is wrong. I want that woman, but I’m married. End of issue.” That’s what values are for, to fight your wants. I want my dog, but there’s a person. Persons take priority. That’s a religious value. If you’re not religious, you don’t have that value necessarily.
Ankerberg: Now, what can a parent do if he discovers that he disagrees with courses and curriculums that are being taught to his children? Well, Eric Buehrer gives this advice:
Buehrer: What I often tell a parent to do is first start with your child. I think a lot of times, when we get active in public schools, we take a top-down mentality and that’s the wrong approach. We need a bottom up mentality. The top-down is starting with the school district, the superintendent, the school board and so forth. Instead, start with your child. Make sure your child understands the difference between right and wrong. Make sure your child understands biblical self-esteem and how our esteem comes from God. Make sure your child understands how to discern on these issues. Teach them well yourself and if you don’t know these things, then start reading. Get good books on them. Become a student on these issues so you can pass it on to your children because if you don’t, it’s not going to happen in the schools.
Secondly, a lot of parents ask me, “When should I pull my child out of the public school classroom because I object to a particular program?” My rule of thumb on that is this: Pull them from the program when you’re no longer able to influence their education. That means, either you’re not able to influence the way the teacher teaches, or you’re not able to teach your child what is right. Maybe your child is too young and being swayed by what’s going on in the classroom. Sometimes, though, if the child is older – maybe a teenager – they can use it as a discerning tool. They can go in and actually stand up for what is right, and it’s a growth period for them. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them. So I say, when you are no longer able to influence your child’s education, either with your child directly or in the classroom situation.
Ankerberg: Next, if a parent decides to approach his child’s schoolteacher, how should it be done? Eric explains:
Buehrer: If you’re going to go in and talk to the teacher, always assume the best. Assume the teacher is not doing this intentionally. Assume the teacher truly is looking for the welfare of your child and what’s best for your child and have respect. A lot of times parents lose the battle because they don’t have respect for the teacher and they come in blasting the teacher and calling them a Secular Humanist or a New Ager when they’re not. And so you just need to assume the best, and talk with that teacher and let them know your concerns about your child personally.
And then actually, a good approach is to be naive and say, “You know, I really want to feel comfortable about this program, but I just don’t because of this and this and this. Can you show me how this actually works? Can you show me the research that would help me understand why this is important or why this is good?” And you’re actually leading the teacher through a learning process but you’re doing it in a very non-threatening way.
Ankerberg: Now, if a problem develops with the teacher, how should a parent approach the school board? Again, Eric gives this advice:
Buehrer: Starting with the child, protect the child, then influence the teacher; change what’s going on in the entire classroom so that 30 kids are helped. Then, go on to the school district level. And there are different ways you can approach the school district. You need to approach the school board members individually. One of the things that we do all the time at “Gateways” is counsel parents on the appropriate ways to approach school board members in such a way that you win a friend rather than build an enemy, create an enemy. And there are ways to do that.
I’ve had parents contact me and say, “Well, I’m going to go to the school board meeting next week and I’m going to tell them what’s wrong with this program and so forth” and I say, “Wait a second. How much time are they going to give you at that podium?” “Well, they’re going to give us three minutes.” Are you really in three minutes going to convey everything that you feel about that program? “Well, I’m not.” How many school board members are on your school board? And they’ll tell me, “Well, I don’t know. I haven’t investigated that yet.”
Well, they need to find out who those board members are. They’re real people. Sometimes they’re people who would believe like the parent believes – if they reach out and talk to them. So we always advise a relational approach to activism, even at the school board level you can win so many friends that way and actually, it’s more powerful in the long run.
Ankerberg: Now, if parents disagree with the school board, what does it take to elect a new member to the school board? Listen:
Buehrer: If you get involved with the school board election, you’d be amazed at how many times these elections are won and lost by only a few votes. Political analysts tell us that five to ten percent of the community votes in a school board election. Now, that may be unbelievably low but it’s true. Five to ten percent of the registered voters actually vote in a school board election when there’s nothing else on the ballot. That means that about a three percent change in the vote radically changes the outcome. Now, when we talk about 3 percent in most school districts in the country, we’re talking about, oh, a few dozen – maybe a hundred, maybe 200; the size of an adult Sunday School class or a small church. It could radically change the outcome of that election and put in the kind of candidate that would represent your values best. One of the things we do at “Gateways to Better Education” is provide that kind of strategizing and counsel and would be more than happy to work with parents and show them not only how to protect their own children but how to influence the entire school district.
Ankerberg: Now, what should parents do if they do not want their child to be taught a particular subject? Well, Eric Buehrer talks about the good and bad points of having your child dismissed from that particular class period. Listen:
Buehrer: Oftentimes what will happen when you object to a particular program or activity in the classroom, the teacher or the principal will say, “Well, we can have you write a note and put it in the file and we’ll excuse your child from the classroom. They can go to the library. They can sit out in the hall. They can sit in the back of the room.”
If you need to, as an initial response, if you’re desperate about getting your child out of that classroom, then I’d say, don’t let the child leave the room. Let them stay in their desk and read a book or work on another assignment. Anytime a child is sent to the library or sent out in the hall or to the back of the class, that’s a form of punishment – that’s all equated with punishment. So don’t have your child do that. They stay at the desk; they do other work; they do it quietly and no fuss is made from the teacher.
See, actually, your child may be the one who’s envied by the rest of the class because he’s not having to go through this ridiculous activity. A lot of the kids don’t like doing this kind of stuff. But if he’s not ridiculed by the teacher and he stays in his desk, then it may be something you would want to accept.
However, I actually favor an opt-in program, that the parent has to write a note to have their child do that activity. Most school districts won’t do this and the reason they won’t do it is because they know the program is not popular. And if they have an opt-in program, most of the parents aren’t going to have their kids opt-in to that program once they find out what’s really going on there. So they put the burden on you, the conservative parent who says “I don’t want my child there,” so that it’s only one or two children that opt-out. But if they actually had an opt-in where all the kids had to have a note from home saying it was okay, and it was given in a detailed syllabus so that the parent really understood what was going on in the program, you’d have a lot of these programs eliminated from schools.
Ankerberg: Next, what should parents do if they decide to approach the school board? What steps should they take so they will be fairly heard and not just labeled a radical, right-wing fundamentalist? Listen.
Buehrer: Anytime a parent gets involved and is critical of the school, on any level, he’s going to be or she’s going to be called a censor, a fundamentalist, a book-burner, a book-banner, ignoramus, and all kinds of things. How do you avoid that? Well, unfortunately you probably can’t avoid it. You can’t avoid somebody accusing you of those things, but when they do, if you get that reaction from a reporter in the local media, then you need to go directly to that reporter. Meet with them in their office. Call them on it. Say, “Wait a second. Are you saying that I can never raise a concern about the school? That I can never say that

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