Excused Absence

Excused Absence

Should Christian Kids Leave Public Schools?

by Douglas Wilson
Publisher: Crux Press
Trade Paperback, 138 pages
Current Retail Price: $10.95
Used Price: $7.50 (1 in stock) Condition Policy

Recalling James Smith's excellent study of cultural liturgies in Desiring the Kingdom, Doug Wilson avers the religious nature of education. Not just Christian education, but all education—because it is the propagation of ideologies, education is the propagation of whatever religion the teacher adheres to, and in government schools the prevailing religion (the only one, in fact) is secular humanism. The myth of neutrality has long blinded Christians to the detrimental effect a state-run education has on their children.

Not "may" have, but definitely will have. It's not enough to take kids to church and youth group and uphold biblical morality at home if you're going to cart them off to a factory for the creation of godless manipulable citizens five days a week. Which is what government schools are, Wilson ably chronicling the history of compulsory education in the United States from its Protestant roots to its current humanist incarnation. Some of the causes of the shift are surprising—for instance, he shows how evangelical Christianity was hijacked through the agency of revivalists like Charles Finney and became in many ways merely a vaguely Christianized version of secular humanism.

It's time, says Wilson (or prophecies, as the case may be), for Christians to take their kids out of the public schools and take responsibility for their education as good stewards are expected to do. Excused Absence isn't so much a defense either of Christian day schools or homeschooling (Wilson sees advantages to both) as it is a well-reasoned if slightly polemic argument against public education. Christian parents must raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, teaching and demonstrating godly character, and they simply can't accomplish that when their kids are being indoctrinated by Uncle Sam.

Who, it turns out, is the creepy uncle. Maybe evil uncle is a better characterization—instead of virtue and honor, goodness and honesty, kids are taught the destructive philosophies of feminism, multiculturalism, sexual liberation, etc., all designed to demoralize Christians and undermine the authority and witness of the Church. But in case you're getting a picture of Wilson as a bitter old doomsayer, he casts all his arguments not in hatred but in the context of covenantal love and community. One of the best books on the public education debate, Excused Absence should be read by every Christian parent.

Table of Contents:


  1. The True Starting Point
  2. How We Got Here
  3. Getting to the Root
  4. Nothing but the Truth
  5. For Goodness' Sake
  6. A Real Beauty
  7. Nurture and Admonition
  8. With All Your Mind
  9. Every Thought Captive
  10. Be Careful What You Ask
  11. Where Judgment Must Begin
  12. Objections Overruled
  13. Teach Your Children Well
  14. Pitfalls to Avoid
  15. Can Do
  16. The Covenantal Context
  17. Our All in All
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating
Summary: Impassioned yet level-headed plea for Christian parents to abandon public schools and give their kids explicitly Christian education.

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