Church Schools Navigate ‘Precarious Time,’ Elder Gilbert Says in Washington D.C.

In a speech delivered in Washington D.C., Elder Robert C. Gay of the Presidency of the Seventy cautioned that church-sponsored schools face a “precarious time” due to increasing secularization and changing societal values. Elder Gay, who serves as the Advisory Board Chairman for the Church Educational System, made the remarks while addressing a gathering of religious freedom advocates and education leaders.

“We live in a time of great challenge and opportunity for religious education,” Elder Gay stated. “As the world grows more secular, church-sponsored schools face increasing pressure to conform to societal norms that may conflict with our deeply held beliefs.”

Elder Gay emphasized that church schools play a vital role in providing a values-based education that integrates academic rigor with spiritual growth. He warned, however, that these institutions are coming under growing scrutiny from accrediting bodies, governments, and the courts.

“There are those who would seek to undermine the ability of religious schools to maintain their distinctive mission and character,” he said. “We must be vigilant in defending our freedom to educate future generations in accordance with the principles of our faith.”

Despite these challenges, Elder Gay expressed optimism about the future of church-sponsored education. He pointed to the enduring demand for religious schools, which offer a welcoming community and a curriculum rooted in moral values.

“Church schools provide a sanctuary for learning, where students can grow in both mind and spirit,” he said. “In an often chaotic world, they offer a sense of purpose and belonging that is increasingly rare in secular educational settings.”

Elder Gay called on religious freedom advocates, educators, and faith communities to rally in support of church schools. He urged greater collaboration in promoting the importance of religious education and in defending the rights of these institutions to operate in accordance with their beliefs.

“We must stand united in affirming the essential role that church schools play in shaping the character of future generations,” he said. “By doing so, we can ensure that these vital institutions continue to flourish, even in this precarious time.”

The remarks from Elder Gay come as church-sponsored schools face growing scrutiny and legal challenges. His call to action underscores the importance of religious education and the need for collective efforts to preserve the freedom of these institutions to provide a values-based education.