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Sunday, August 30, 2009
Quantifying Your Religious Worldview
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily column by David d'Escoto imploring right-wingers to pull their children out of public schools, citing an alleged "direct link between our country's precipitous slide into socialism and decades of indoctrination in leftist school ideologies," makes a curious claim:

Fact after fact shows that when children are subject to 12 years of liberal ideologies for about 14,000 hours of their lives, the overwhelming majority of them will grow up to think, act and vote like … you guessed it, liberals. We ignore all of that even when studies shows that "83 percent of children from committed Christian families attending public schools adopt a Marxist-Socialist worldview."

How is it possible to even quantify such a thing? We followed the link d'Escoto supplied, which went to a May 2007 CBN on a related subject. It cited the Barna Group, which calls itself "the leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture," as the source for that claim. But a search of the firm's website uncovered no such research. (Barna does do research on religious worldviews, which we've previously noted.) But further Googling showed that other writers attribute the claim to the Nehemiah Institute.

The Nehemiah Institute is an organization that provides "Christian education programs" with the goal of "restoring our nation to a biblically-based society as it once was." Its main program is called the PEERS [Politics, Economics, Education, Religion, and Social Issues] test. It's described as "a series of statements carefully structured to identify a person's worldview" in those fivecategories, with the goal of "compar[ing] a student's worldview with that of their teachers or parents."

The more direct goal of the PEERS test is detailed on the institute's "about" page: "The purpose of the research is to help individuals and organizations identify key areas where their views of life are contrary to Biblical reasoning. The test serves as a survey of the 'damage to our walls.' "

In other words, it measures right-wing Christian indoctrination and the areas in which it has failed. That's made even more clear with the four worldview categories a student taking the PEERS test can fall under: Biblical Theism, Moderate Christian, Secular Humanist, and Socialist.

Despite the apparently biased nature of the grouping -- who says the polar opposite of "biblical theism" is socialism? -- the institute claims that its method is valid and reliable, adding: "The PEERS Test is accurate, relevant, timely, and the clear downward trend of youth requires immediate action."

For those not falling in the first category, the Nehemiah Institute is happy to sell you a course unsurprisingly called "Developing a Biblical Worldview ," which "is designed to lead an individual into thinking biblically about major areas of life with the goal of building a biblically-based culture. ... DBW includes a lesson on the Christian history of our nation and a lesson on major events of world history from a biblical point of view."

In other words, indoctrination, with a little salesmanship on the side.

Given that the Nehemiah Institute has an interest in portraying anyone who strays even slightly from its brand of "biblical theism" as someone in need of the indoctrination course it sells -- plus, a significant number of people administering such an opt-in test may very well be likely to administer it on students they already suspect of straying from "biblical theism," adding a certain level of confirmation bias and inflating any test result numbers the institute releases -- such an agenda makes its methodology and results somewhat suspect.

Also, World O'Crap did a fine job of deconstructing the PEERS test a few years back.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EDT

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