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African Americans, Christian Schools, and Ronald Reagan

Nicole Doyley

A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of dining with three good friends. We span decades and are all women of color. As we caught up on each other’s lives, I shared about a decision my husband and I made to transfer our sons from the Christian school where they’d be attending for the past two years back to our local public school. One by one, my friends shared that they, too, traversed the same path.

Concerned about the moral relativism espoused at public schools, they enrolled their kids in Christian schools and eventually withdrew them.  Different years, different schools, but we all pulled our children for the same reasons: too much politics and too little diversity.

God’s Man Into Office?

The oldest of us talked about the flyers in the Take Home Folder, charging parents to vote for Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter.  For that particular school, only one party built its platform on biblical values.  My other two friends had enrolled their children in two different schools in two different states, but shared similar experiences. Their kids began Christian school in September 2007, and by September 2008, they heard announcements over the loudspeaker raising the alarm that the devil was trying to get into the White House. Notes sent home, special prayer meetings, a day of fasting before Election Day all communicated the same message: We have to get God’s man into office; the future of the county depends on it. 

Then I shared about our decision. My husband and I transferred our boys to a Christian school, hoping to maintain their innocence just a little longer and give them a stronger Christian foundation.  Things began fine, but this year, week-after-week, my middle-schooler came home troubled by things said in class:  By taking the knee, Colin Kaepernick was disrespecting the flag. Nick Sandmann was just an innocent, scared teenager. We have to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out; instead of letting them in, we should just teach them how to work hard. And finally, the coup de gras: Slavery in America wasn’t that bad because at least we clothed and fed our slaves.

My son’s classmates warned him that not voting for Trump meant killing babies and Mexican men were creepy drug lords who raped women. Up until then, my son didn’t know what rape was (so much for preserving innocence).  It made us wonder what kinds of conversations these children heard around their dinner tables.

Deep in the Quagmire

Didn’t the Bible say we should honor our elders, including Nathan Phillips? What about feeding the hungry and providing refuge for the vulnerable? And how can anyone with any knowledge of Scripture minimize buying and selling human beings, created in God’s image?

This school, like the schools my friends experienced, fell into the quagmire of party politics and missed a profound opportunity to lead and to teach children the humility, love, and honor that come with being a Christ follower.

As my friends and I sat around the table and compared notes, we realized that all of our kids struggled socially, too.  Day after day, they weathered a strident political atmosphere and were held at arm’s length by other students.  They all fought loneliness and clung to the one friend who had the courage to embrace someone different. 

Navigating the waters of education, my friends and I were forced to choose between moral relativism or faith wrapped up in nationalism.  And we all made the same decision: send our kids to public schools. The moral relativism seemed easier to manage. We chose the pluralistic public schools over the homogeneous Christians schools because somehow they felt emotionally safer.

At their Christian schools, the children’s skin set them apart, their nascent political ideas set them apart, their understanding of Scripture set them apart, and their budding values set them apart.  It was all too much.

Church and State

The conclusion my husband and I came to saddened me.  We appreciated a lot of things about the Christian school. We liked that our boys read great classics, memorized important documents, and learned the tenants of our faith.  We had few complaints about the curriculum and we will miss these things.

But our experience spoke to a larger issue of the Church that grieves me. When the Church marries a political party, it chooses to live according to the values of that party before the values of the Bible. Many Christians read the Bible into their already decided political affiliation instead of letting the Bible read and shape their politics.

Of course we know that the public school will be no cakewalk.  We will trade in one set of issues for another, and we will have to go boldly before the throne of grace, beseeching God for his help raising and educating our kids. But I’m hoping for a reprieve from the overt political rhetoric. We hope for an atmosphere that celebrates and navigates difference better. 

I look forward to the day when we African Americans can send our kids to Christian schools and find understanding, diversity, and the Kingdom values that far transcend two profoundly flawed political parties. 

14 thoughts on “African Americans, Christian Schools, and Ronald Reagan

  1. Jeff

    Sorry to point it out, JLC, but your comment is full of racist and political hatred. A good hard look in the mirror might be helpful.

  2. JLC

    Nicole, Thanks for a great and thoughtful article. I have seen and heard (first hand) many of the same problems in my church and public school. I have lost count of the number of racist, nationalist, and pro-republican comments that I have heard out of the mouths of students. I continue to pray that God will use this season to open up the eyes of many who have idolized white, right-wing republican politics. However, I have been deeply saddened that, despite a prophetic witness from people like you and others online and in the media, many have simply become more entrenched in the lies as the party becomes increasingly immoral, and that it is hurting many of our brothers and sisters like you. I am so sorry. Here’s to hope and change for us all.

  3. Jeff

    I’ve a family member who taught (past tense) in a fundamentalist Christian School. She hated it, and quit after 1 year. The reason she quit was three-fold:

    First, many totally out-of-control kids were stuck in that school by their parents, hoping that a “Christian atmosphere” would straighten out their little savages. You know – the old “maybe the school can do what we’ve failed to do” thing.

    Second, the school’s administration was completely and totally unprepared to, and inept in, dealing with these situations. The blame always got shifted back onto the teachers, with no support whatever. “You just need to pray for him!”

    Third, the pay was about half what she had made while teaching in the public school system. So she’s back teaching in a public school.

    Public schools are – for the most part – out of control and careening toward a proverbial cliff. But private Christian schools are not without their overwhelming problems.

  4. Tre M.

    Thank you for sharing this thoughtful, personal story. Do know that people out there respect the decision you made for your child. You shouldn’t feel pressure from anyone to make a different one. If someone wouldn’t send their kid to the public school to fight for its betterment at their kid’s expense they shouldn’t be giving advice they wouldn’t take.

  5. Aaron

    Sorry Jeff, you are correct – and I don’t know how to undo my mistake. haha. Oh well.

  6. Jeff

    Hi Aaron –

    To clarify, I believe you were intending this to be a response to the article, not to my comment. Am I correct?

  7. Thomas W.


    I really appreciate your invitation. You’re tone toward me comes across as having changed compared to early on. I appreciate that a lot.

    I’m actually a member of a multi-ethnic church in the PCA.

    Yes, I try to find the balance in all of this, but I probably do a poor job of communicating that.

    I fear that (not related to the above) the Witness often overshoots it’s response, ending up in trading stereotypes for just more stereotypes. And worse I fear that their message is poorly communicated and contributing to the divisiveness surrounding these conversations. (That’s not to exclude or excuse the many white christians, or even myself who can be guilty of the same.) So I push back on some topics here in hopes that both our understandings are refined, leading to us all knowing we are free and valued in Christ the same.

  8. Aaron

    You and your boys will be missed. Many, of the differences you mentioned above also set my kids apart. My kids don’t like being different, either. They fight loneliness, too. While my kids’ skin color looks like the vast majority of those around them, there are many other aspects of the life of their peers that are quite different from my kids. We expect that, and have learned to embrace it. Those have actually been the most fruitful teaching moments I could have ever asked for as a parent.

    I’m not saying all this to excuse the awful comments your kids heard at school. We should make every effort to counter that – at home first, and then in the school community. But please don’t put all Christian school faculty, children, and their parents into one bucket of MAGA-chanting nationalists. There are many at your school who are fighting for humility, love, and honor as they follow Jesus. Did you discuss these issues with any of the faculty, staff, or families of the school?

    “I look forward to the day when we African Americans can send our kids to Christian schools and find understanding, diversity, and the Kingdom values that far transcend two profoundly flawed political parties.”

    I look forward to this day, too! But why not stay where you are and work toward this end? Let’s work together! If you leave, it only serves to postpone that day. And in reality, it makes it harder for those of us who stay and fight the current.

    “I’m hoping for a reprieve from the overt political rhetoric. We hope for an atmosphere that celebrates and navigates difference better.”

    It’s safe to say that you and your kids will not get the reprieve you’re seeking. “Moral relativism” and “pluralism” is putting it nicely. It’s downright anti-christian out there. That atmosphere does not celebrate our Christian differences. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing either, if you believe differences are teaching opportunities.

    As (Christian) parents, we each make the best decisions we can at the time for each one of our children. We have that freedom in our country, in our Christianity, and should within the church.

    May God bless your family in whatever road lies ahead.

  9. Toviyah

    Hello Thomas W.,

    This reply is based on my observation about your many thoughtful posts. There seems to be a desire for you to find some sort of balance or equitable viewpoint to the unpleasant racial issues in this country (and in the Church at large). If that’s a somewhat accurate description, may I suggest that you do research into the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). It is a unique congregation that may be worth looking into, if you haven’t done so already.
    (Welcome to the Evangelical Covenant Church. We are a multiethnic movement of 875 congregations in the United States and Canada with ministries on five continents of the world…)


  10. Thomas W.

    “(still I do not understand what he did so horribly wrong that was so different from any other president that would make our own countrymen/women not respect him and really truly hate him and spread that into the whole world) ”

    Political campaigns to varying degrees of success prey on our irrational thinking. They often create false pictures of the opposition to tear them down and gain votes. During Obama’s years he was imagined as the “antichrist” by the right. More recently, Trump has been portrayed as Hitler and a racist by the left.

    Neither worked well as they are such low bars, they are easy to hurdle. And in reality, they act no where near the worst fears concocted.

    To take a step back esp. in this day of knee jerk/media fueled reactions is important. To afford others the nuance as we want nuance afforded in our views is important, rather than assuming negative or sinful pretenses. But mostly what we do is the opposite, and we’re all prone to it.

  11. Thomas W.

    I fully understand that schooling decisions are diverse and hard, and judging how and when to let our kids confront the world is relative to each case.

    However, why not increase the diversity at said Christian schools by leaving your non-dogmatic on politics child in and at least pursuing a conversation with the administration? It’s a trade of one low diversity place for another if you leave and go to the public arena where there’s just agreement on everything in reverse. It feeling easier, doesn’t mean it is in reality.

    I can’t imagine at all that middle schoolers (assuming 6 to 8th grade in general) would have dogmatic opinions on politics and some increasingly dumb ones. You did not mention any teachers espousing these things, just hearing it from class/classmates.

    However, the inability to consider some of their opinions, such as Nick Sandmann for instance, shows your own bias and propensity to be just as wrong even as an adult. Sandmann has been shown to be innocent, and was falsely defamed by the media who immediately jumped to conclusions as they tend to do on limited information. If you do not believe me, I would encourage you that instead of linking to CNN, you watch the extended video yourself, and google the retractions by the Atlantic and the WaPo.

    In addition, whether we agree with the move or not, Kapernick was disrespecting the flag/country/etc. on purpose.

    “The moral relativism seemed easier to manage.”

    Different side of the same coin, honestly, but at least you knew what you were getting at the Christian school. If you’re child could not handle such discernment yet with a limited front of worldviews, do you think they’ll be better off where there are multiple fronts?

  12. Jeff

    So a few Christian schools are conservative Republican in nature.

    All public schools are liberal Democrat in nature.

    Sounds to me like you’ve all made YOUR choices based on politics as well.

  13. Scott Roney

    Thank you for sharing this, and for being honest about the pros and cons of both public and Christian schools. A significant portion of the families in our ACNA church either homeschool their children, or send them to classical Christian schools. I resonate with the concerns over what children are exposed to – e.g. boys in the girls’ locker room, sex education that reveals too much too soon – and the desire for a Christ-centered education that doesn’t separate faith from knowledge. However, as a family of color – 4 of our 6 children are minorities – we are more worried about what our children will be exposed to in the private and homeschooling world: racism, misogyny, legalism, politicization, fear of science. One of the most popular homeschool academies in our area ( does not even observe Martin Luther King Day. I would rather that my children stick out for their faith in Jesus than for their ethnicity.

  14. John Hardie

    Nicole, deeply appreciate you expressing this. After serving 25 years in ministry I began teaching and coaching back at my high school this year – a public high school. It is a trade off re issues, but I never considered teaching at a Christian school for some of the same reasons you expressed.

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