I just wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the things I was taught in my history classes growing up. I may have to even return to this a few times as I know there are a decent number of problematic things within Abeka history textbooks.
The book I’m pulling my quotes from today is “Old World History and Geography” a fifth grade history textbook from abeka books. This post will mostly focus on how religion was used and discussed within the textbook.
One of the first major points that stand out is this quote: “The Bible is the word’s only completely accurate written record of ancient history.” Any other source of history or information is a lesser text. This next quote mirrors the same thought and is talking about early Mesopotamia. “In recent years, men have found other records of early times there, but none is as accurate as the bible.”
I have to laugh at this at least a little. These “other records” are dated far before any Hebrew scriptures were ever written. But yet the older records are to be completely discarded if they disagree with any point of the bible. Biblical literalism requires that the bible be proven correct over any other source of history. The idea that the bible could have errors of any type was inconceivable.
Within my history courses I was also taught and reinforced on young earth creationism. All my history courses always started with Adam & Eve and then the flood as the main points for the start of civilization. This book is no different. During discussion of early civilization a section is devoted to “debunking” evolution.
With it being a biblical course “Adam’s Fall” is also a major talking point. Along with many reminders of the sinful nature of man since that point. In a discussion on race and the origin of races the history textbook reminds the reader. “Each person in every culture is a sinner and can be saved only through the blood of Jesus Christ.” I’ve found multiple other times in the book where a salvation message is presented to the reader.
Contrasting that, other cultures religious beliefs are constantly mocked in the text. Or presented in a barbaric way that suggested any other religion was barbaric and ignorant. Here is picture of a portion of the text to emphasize my point.
And now for a quote focusing on a separate area – India.
“Today, India is one of the poorest nations in the world. Two major reason for India’s poverty are belief in the false religion of Hinduism and a continued follow of the caste system. Hinduism has led to a spirit of resistance toward western technology and a superstitions regard for animal and plant life that hinder progress.”“Old World History and Geography”
I know there is a lot more in that quote that is problematic, but I think it shows the attitude the book displays towards other religions and beliefs. I will point out that quotes like “false, pagan religion” or “false religion” dot the conversation anytime a religion other than Christianity is discussed. There is no nuance in the conversation it is merely stated that these are false and incorrect ways to practice your faith.
Many chapters devote time to speak of different Christian missionaries to different regions of the world. Christian missionaries are presented as saviors that brought true understanding and proper culture to these pagan and fallen people. For an example this quote is talking about William Carey and his influence in India. “Through his influence, the evil practices of sacrificing children to idols and killing of widows were abolished.” And this quote is discussing advancements of civilization in Africa related to Christian missions. “The progress that Africa knows today was brought about by the power of the Word of God in the hearts of the African people.”
The word biased doesn’t even encompass everything wrong with the textbook. Much of the text in this history book forces unproven biblical “facts” and history into a nation’s history. Then ignores how a people group may think of their own faith and culture and instead presents them through a twisted Christian view. Crediting Christian faith and values for any social or economic progress within the world.
I wrote this post to point out some of the issues of how fundamentalism and Christian textbooks portray other religions and people. Most of my world view was formed in my church and through my homeschool curriculum as I didn’t have a lot of interaction with traditional news and media sources. This narrow world view was all I experienced and heard.
As I grew I fully believed that those of other religions remained in “ignorance” and that sending missionaries to correct their thinking was the best course. This would, in my mind, save them and allow them to grow as a people. No thought would have been given to how others perceive missionaries that come in with the intent to force change on a culture or belief system. I would have spoken on how these cultures were wrong and deeply rooted in their false pagan beliefs, and how they needed to change and adopt my beliefs.
It wasn’t just church or my parents that pushed this into my head it was my entire upbringing. The media and textbooks that were allowed into my life only reflected what my parents wanted me to learn. Outside views, religions beliefs, or opinions were not presented. If they were these views were demonized or turned into an evil “other” that should be feared. Although I can only speak for myself, It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that others had very similar experiences with homeschooling.
I know many people are unfamiliar with homeschooling text books, and I just wanted to share some of the ideas that I was taught as “facts” growing up. Part of me finding out who I am and what I believe is me also going back through what I’ve been taught. And figuring out if those teachings are true or not.