Can Christians still be school teachers?

Can Christians still be school teachers?
John Denning
John Denning John Denning is Head of Education at The Christian Institute.
27 June, 2023 6 min read

Not a month seems to go by without a high-profile story in the news about a Christian teacher facing difficulties because of their beliefs. I want to tackle these difficulties directly and explain why, despite the great pressures, my answer to the question whether you can still be a Christian teacher is always an emphatic yes!

Britain’s education system was established by Christians, from the oldest schools in the country, dating back to the 500s or even earlier, to the establishment of universities. Then, following the Reformation, Christians promoted literacy to ensure Tyndale’s ploughboy could read the Scriptures and know them better than the Roman Catholic priests.

Those efforts redoubled following the evangelical awakenings, followed by a major push by churches to found schools in the 19th century to meet the needs of the growing urban poor. It was these schools that became the foundation for the state education system we have today.

Christian influence has also been significant in the way education is organised and delivered internationally. In the 17th century a pre-Reformation Protestant believer, Comenius, transformed ideas about learning on the basis of his beliefs about God’s creation. His influence extends to schools all over the world today and he is widely acknowledged by secular, as well as Christian, scholars as the founder of modern teaching methods.

It is still true that many teachers are Christians. My hunch is that they are over-represented in the profession. If that’s right, there are tens of thousands of Christian teachers working in our schools. This involvement of Christians in education has been a tremendous blessing to generations of children, our nation as a whole, and continues today.

Of course, there are enormous challenges. The transgender movement is the most extreme example. Research by the think tank Civitas found that one in ten teenagers had either ‘changed gender’ or wanted to do so. A study by Policy Exchange found 40% of secondary schools were going along with pupils’ wishes to socially transition without first seeking parental consent. 62% are not even reliably informing parents.

In the worst cases, teachers use a pupil’s ‘new’ name and pronouns while in school, but use their previous name and pronouns in communication with parents to hide this from them. In this way, children are encouraged to reject their God-given bodies and potentially set on a path towards hormone treatment and even irreversible surgery, which may well leave them infertile and as life-long medical patients. Meanwhile, those who know them best and are most committed to their welfare – their parents – are sometimes frozen out, prevented from protecting them.

Yet this scandal is beginning to be exposed and it is not only Christians who are concerned. There is widespread and growing agreement that something must be done. This is making it easier for Christian teachers to speak out.

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