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America's Culture War

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Can't Teach Morality in School

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression: “You can’t legislate morality!” Actually, such a claim is fairly recent in American culture and flies directly in the face of fact. After all, God has legislated human morality from the very beginning of time. The laws of every country do the same. If we cannot legislate morality, shall we annul all our laws against murder, theft, and perjury in court? The notion is typical of the mindless drivel spouted since the 1960s by those who reject traditional American values—values that arose from the Bible.

The same may be said concerning the relentless attempt to expel God and morality from the public schools. Liberal educators insist that morality must not be taught in the school system. The theory is that moral standards have no objective reality. They arise from within persons and exist only in reference to the subjective opinion and will of the individual. Hence, schools should not attempt to enforce upon students one particular value system. Such insidious, suicidal nonsense has transformed the American public school system into a recipe for national disaster.

Acceptance of such thinking is not only a recent phenomenon in American history, the notion was soundly repudiated by the Founders of American education. A mountain of evidence exists to verify this claim. As one example, consider the founding of the University of Pennsylvania, due in large part to the efforts of Benjamin Franklin (“University of...,” n.d.). Nine signers of the Declaration of Independence and 11 signers of the Constitution were associated with this institution. This longtime traditional member of the Ivy League is a private university founded in 1740 in Philadelphia as a charity school. It became an academy in 1753, with Benjamin Franklin as president of the first board of trustees, and is credited with opening the first school of medicine in the United States in 1765. Consider the motto of the school: Leges sine moribus vanae. Meaning? “Laws without morals are useless.” What better description of what is happening to the nation in general and public education in particular?


“University of Pennsylvania” (no date),, [On-line], URL:

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