Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Threshold of a Christian Homeschooling Cult

A lot of people object to me calling the Christian homeschooling movement a cult. It is a cult. If I called it something else, something lesser in intensity than "cult", I wouldn't be addressing it honestly. Let me explain why I believe "cult" fits.

First of all, if you haven't read this, please do (consider it a sister-post to this one), and please watch the videos embedded there. It's an awakening.

I have two nephews and two nieces (ranging in age from 20 to 3), and I love each of them as if they were my own children. If they choose a path other than one of faith in Jesus Christ, or make unusual or controversial lifestyle choices, sure, I won't like it, but I won't begrudge them their choices or emotionally (or in any other way) punish them for their choices. As long as their choices don't endanger others, the choices are theirs to make. If the logic they use to reach their conclusions is faulty, and they discuss it openly, sure, I might argue the logic with them. Even so, I won't begrudge them or punish them for their choices.

Christian homeschooling doesn't allow the freedom to make such choices. Children within this world MUST accept the conclusions of the paradigm and curriculum - or be expendable, facing brutal emotional leveraging, ostracization, and emotional abuse.

They're taught little and indoctrinated much. There's a good threshold for ya.

I'm a strong believer that education and faith/religion should be entirely separate matters. Matters of faith, in my opinion, should NOT be matters of homeschool curriculum. Faith should be entirely separate within a family dynamic. Matters of faith, matters of biblical text, should be discussed in such a way as to encourage the freedom of critical thought within a child, with no failing grade, or corresponding punishment, for "wrong" answers. Faith in Christ is a personal matter, unique to each individual. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, telling them, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" [Philippians 2:12], the "fear and trembling" he spoke of wasn't the punishment, whether physical or emotional, of a disapproving parent, but of a personal understanding of the magnitude of salvation in Christ.

When religion, or a religious lifestyle, becomes intertwined with an "educational" curriculum, and the only hope of achieving a passing grade (or avoiding punishment) is to agree whole-heartedly with the doctrinal and lifestyle conclusions of the curriculum - no one is being "taught" anything. Instead, indoctrination is happening. This is the work of a religious cult.

My former future in-laws wore a mask of Christianity, and could speak Christianese with the best of them, but the fact is that they indoctrinated their children into a religious culture, into believing a boatload of ridiculous things, because they themselves, full of cultural and religious fear and paranoia, drank the Kool-aid of the Christian homeschooling movement, essentially flipped the bird to the Holy Spirit, and took it upon themselves to engineer and control the outcome of who and what their children would be as Christians (I would say "as people", but the movement doesn't shive a git about who people are "as people"). They lived their own brand of "godliness" vicariously through their children, allowed no room for any other conclusions than the approved conclusions, and punished what didn't conform, what they couldn't engineer or control (my ex and I are proof of this). In doing so, they couldn't possibly have been more anti-Christ. Their family is a cult.

Indoctrination kills.

It isn't a matter of whether or not there's love between family members. The people at Jonestown loved each other. They're all dead. It isn't a matter of intelligence. There were some very intelligent people in Jonestown - who drank the Kool-aid. Indoctrination trumps love and intelligence in a closed environment. Indoctrination kills. Jonestown is evidence. 

The Christian homeschooling movement indoctrinates the same way Jim Jones did. As I've said before, it may not always kill the body, but it kills the soul. 

Consider that in a recent exchange (regarding doctrine as it relates to salvation) with a die-hard Christian homeschooler, the Christian homeschooler stated "If you don't believe in Young Earth Creationism, you may have a salvation issue." Now tell me that person's ever been truly allowed to come to ANY conclusion regarding faith or lifestyle without the fear of punishment of a "wrong" conclusion (and do so with a straight face)...and then I'll stop calling the Christian homeschooling movement a cult.

I'll use even stronger language...

The Christian homeschooling movement and industry, as it exists today, is anti-Christ.


  1. Having been homeschooled myself, I can see where you're coming from, and I agree with some of what you say. Growing up, I was simply given material to learn, all related to Christianity, but I was never asked to do anything beyond learning the material. I was never asked for my opinion on these things.

    Then I went to school. It was a life-changing experience. It didn't take me long to realize just how out of touch I was. Because my English class was based in argumentation, I had to begin thinking for myself rather than accepting everything the Bible says without rationale.

    However,while I do view my non-Christian, non-homeschool education as valuable, I disagree with your assertion that "education and faith/religion should be entirely separate matters." When Harvard was first established, it taught the Bible and religion extensively with excellent results. After Harvard discontinued being a Christian college, the quality of its academics went down.

  2. I wish someone would write a similar post on Christian schooling in general. I wasn't home schooled (personally, I don't think my mom would've been able to handle it emotionally, even though I'm an only child) but I was sent to Christian schools from 2nd-9th grade. I had the worse abuse in those schools! Some of them even cared more about what Bible verses I knew than whether or not I could write a cohesive sentence. Even others were concerned with the students being 100%, 100% of the time (most of my school years were met with both parents battling cancer, which my father lost right after my 8th grade). My family had been told by one school that they didn't have enough faith, hence why they weren't being healed from the cancer. Others told my family I didn't study hard enough (this particular school gave a minimum of 6 hours of homework a night, and many other students' parents had the same complaint). I was told I sat on the "not so smart" side of the classroom. Some were just awful teachers that were known around the community to verbally abuse the students. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there that's been in a similar situation, but I can't seem to find any blogs or people in general that have had these kinds of experiences.

    (Note: my family was NOT Gothard/ATI/Pearls' although Dr. Dobson was a common name in my house. My mom was Charismatic and my dad was Lutheran.)

  3. @lil-ms-drama...May I ask who the schools were affiliated with? Any certain denomination?

    CNN has been reporting on the IFB in recent weeks, including their schools and group homes like Hephzibah House. It wouldn't surprise me to see more of that kind of thing in the mainstream news media in the near future.

  4. As you know, Lewis, I was homeschooled. I value my experience, but I fully agree that the Christian homeschool movement is a "cult," or a collection of many little cults, to be precise. However, I really like your use of "industry" because I think it captures the essence of the movement: a big get-rich quick scheme. Just like the stock market in the 1920s, the big players become millionaire off of nothing - proof of God's favor - and the little people try to imitate them, in hopes that they too will have a successful home-based curriculum/publishing business.

  5. Fantastic post, once again, Lewis.

    I have a lot of people that ask me exactly what I mean when I say, "Christian homeschooling movement." I try to explain what I mean but then people get all defensive and offended that they're lumped into that simply because they are Christians and they homeschool. So, exactly what would be the appropriate response? What would you give people as a concise definition?

  6. You would be more accurate if you said 'certain segments' of Christian Homeschooling. I know literally hundreds of homeschooling families, and very few of them fit your profile.

    I know VERY WELL the segment of which you speak, I dabbled around the edges of that myself. Thankfully my common sense kicked in before I bought into too much of it.

    But the brush you are using here is much, much too broad. I just left a very legalistic denomination myself, and have personally faced many of the issues you discuss... but as of today I still consider myself a Christian homeschooler. But not of the ilk you describe. Your exposure to Christian homeschooling has been much too narrow.

    1. My experience echoes yours, Teresa. I may not know hundreds of Christian homeschooling families, but I know very many and only a small percentage fit this profile. I think the problem is that there are some patriarchal "christian"-ish cultic organizations out there who have made homeschooling a requirement for belonging to their groups. Thus, healthy Christian homeschooling has been tainted by association. I think it would be very helpful if those Christians who were brought up in these cults and are now denouncing them would see how it unjust it is for normal Christian homeschoolers to be vilified as a result of the sins of others with whom we have nothing to do, and whose methods and beliefs we reject.

      I homeschooled my daughter from kindergarten through high school and one of my greatest goals was to teach her how to think logically and critically - not just in the context of formal school assignments but in our everyday conversations. The Bible was an integral part of her education. (The two are not mutually exclusive.)

      My daughter is now in her final year of earning her bachelor's in English from a secular University. This is a very challenging honors degree program which requires huge amounts of reading and places a strong emphasis on critical examination of literature in light of history, philosophy, religion, popular ideas, etc. She is doing very well, thanks to her love of ideas and her experience and enjoyment in evaluating them in the light of truth. We love discussing what she's learning (among countless other things) and now I'M the one learning from HER.

      We are fast friends and have traveled to Europe together twice, learning together as we went. We are fellow travelers in our lifelong search for truth. Yes, we believe the Bible (in its original autographs) is the inspired, inerrant Word of God and that evolution is a myth. But we also believe that these truths can and should stand up to critical examination and should never be forced on anyone.

      My brother and sister-in-law are Christian homeschooling parents of five (two oldest in college, doing extremely well) and their children are thriving and academically top-drawer. They are showered with love, acceptance, and affirmation from their parents, who have always treated them increasingly as equals to the greatest extent possible as they matured. Their family is Christ-centered, e.g., gospel-centered which means that grace reigns. I believe this is key in Christian families, homeschooling or not.

      I have a good friend who homeschooled her five children. Two of them have rejected Christianity but she has never rejected them, or treated them any way other than with love, kindness and acceptance. She and I believe that the two main factors are most likely: 1)Their father is an unbeliever and they experienced a great deal of legalism, criticism and rejection from him. 2)They attended legalistic churches during those two sons' growing up years which colored their (and the family's) understanding the gospel of grace.

      It's really impossible to divorce the study of history, literature, the arts, social science, or biological origins from religion or belief. Someone's worldview is going to come through in the way these subjects are presented - it is inescapable. I attended public school K through 12 and suffered often in high school from the various worldviews that were (sometimes obviously, sometimes stealthily) pushed on me, even sometimes becoming depressed as a result. I was also exposed to things in my social life that were very harmful to my well-being.

      Please don't make Christian homeschooling "the enemy." It is not. We grace-based Christian homeschoolers are on your side. Let's be allies in the work of exposing and denouncing these "Christian" authoritarian legalistic cults.

    2. Christian homeschooling is the problem, no matter how much those who've chosen it don't want it to be.

    3. Wow, talk about a generalization! I have family members who have been in the "fringe elements" of the homeschooling movement, so I know some aspects of that, but this is just ignorantly broad.

    4. It's accurate. Religious homeschooling is poison.

    5. They are all cults. They only associate with the people in their home schooled community. Deep down the children are so unhappy and it gets even worse for them when they break free into the real world and don't have a clue how to interact with real people and face many torturous times in their own minds through not ever knowing how to really be alert of street wise when all alone. So that's how they stay. All alone. Then they get depressed and kill themselves. Yep. That's a cult alright. ����

  7. Lewis,

    Can I jump in here and say that sometimes the parents are as indoctrinated as the kids!

    I knew a home school family which was very conservative, and tied the idea of home schooling to the idea that you truly had faith in Christ. However, after getting to know the family, I came to this conclusion: the parents were NOT using home schooling to purposely control their children just to boost their own egos and control issues. They WERE using it because the parents themselves were fear-motivated into believing that this was the only way they could make their children healthy.

    It's important to understand that there are Christian home school cult participants who know exactly what they're doing and want to control; and there are those who have been scared into believing that following this model is the only way to correctly "train up" their children, give their children a godly life.

    I understand exactly where you are coming from, Lewis, but be careful not to paint the motives of every Christian home school family in the same light. Some of the parents are as much in need of rescuing as the kids.

  8. Interesting thoughts here. I can see what you are saying, but don't think that Christianity and homeschooling should be entirely separate. Case in point: me. While all of that was woven into my curriculum ( I had both actually, Christian and "secular" curriculum, and none of it was specifically from one "company" or organization either), it was certainly never pushed down my throat. It was there for me to examine & study and I took some and left some. I think, other than the curriculum that dealt with the roots and history of this country and the Christian ties and foundation it has, most of it was fairly generalized. One exception: courtship books and proper relations with the opposite sex. I have, now, come to many different ideas about that and am mature enough to make my own decisions on those matters. 'nuf said.

    Thankfully, this wasn't the case for me...because this is truly sad:

    "When religion, or a religious lifestyle, becomes intertwined with an "educational" curriculum, and the only hope of achieving a passing grade (or avoiding punishment) is to agree whole-heartedly with the doctrinal and lifestyle conclusions of the curriculum - no one is being "taught" anything. Instead, indoctrination is happening. This is the work of a religious cult."

  9. @Teresa..."Christian homeschooling" is accurate. Once again, I'm not talking about homeschooling, or Christians who homeschool. I'm talking about the Christian homeschooling movement and industry. The whackos have taken over the industry and conventions.

    @Erika...Generally, the definition I give is the segment of Christians who homeschool for religious reasons. They're the ones who end up buying the dominionist curriculum (because that's practically all there is in the "Christian" market - they've taken over). That's probably as concise as the definition can get. Otherwise, the nuance of the industry has to be explained - the VFs, the Ken Hamms, the A Bekas, the Gothards, et cetera.

    @Anon 10:58...

    "Some of the parents are as much in need of rescuing as the kids."

    I agree. The outcome is the same, though.

  10. @DelightingInHim...

    "I think, other than the curriculum that dealt with the roots and history of this country and the Christian ties and foundation it has, most of it was fairly generalized. One exception: courtship books and proper relations with the opposite sex. I have, now, come to many different ideas about that and am mature enough to make my own decisions on those matters."

    Were you allowed to come to your own conclusions about these things back then?

  11. Lewis,

    I'll try to remember the kinds of schools I went to, as I was switched almost every 2 years due to problems my parents constantly had with the schools.

    K-1 = Public
    2-3 = Lutheran
    4-5 = Non-Denominational Charismatic (no longer in operation - when I attended they used discarded public school books and as I left they switched to the ACE program)
    6-9 = Assemblies of God (no longer in operation, used the A Beka curriculum)
    10-12 = Public, with a lot of begging and pleading to my mother, and moving to a suburb of Chicago.

  12. @Erika...Maybe a better definition is "purposely homeschooling from a curriculum based on a Christian religious lifestyle."

  13. @lil-ms-drama...Ahh. A Beka. One of my faves. Pretty legalistic, from what I understand.

    Sorry you had to deal with all that nonsense.

  14. Lewis are you aware that there are Christian homeschool curriculum publishers that believe in an old earth, write books advocating dating and in no way resemble the Vision Forum, Botkin, Pearl set? I agree with one above comment that you paint with a too broad a brush. I know who and what you mean but I don't think you know Christian homeschooling enough to fully understand it.

    For starters not ALL Christian homeschool conferences are dominated by the V.F. types. There are many now that are not. My family belongs to a Christian Homeschool co-op where we get together every Friday for classes. All wear jeans and dress just like other kids/teens. We have high schoolers who are dating each other and even public school kids. We do not have any V.F. stuff going on and we are Christians and have about 100 families are involved!!!

    To say all Christian homeschoolers are a cult is a CRAZY statement, sorry!! I have known a few families who have gotten into the cult mindset but I have been homeschooling for eleven years now and I have met more who are not. We homeschool for many reasons and yes just like a non-homeschool family we share our faith with our kids, just as Muslims, Atheists, and Jewish people share their faith and values with their kids. Homeschoolers do the same, what am I supposed to do teach them all about being a Hindu? Every family who goes to any church on Sunday or any Synagogue or Mosque is to a certain extent indoctrinating their children into their faith. The problem is not sharing your faith with you kids it is the SMALL minority in any faith (homeschool or not) that will shun/disown their kids if they grow up to choose another faith. I have seen this done in Jewish and Muslim families and I have seen it done in mainstream protestant families who never homeschooled.

    Watch what happens when Southern Baptist Sallie Sue, who went to public school all her life, brings home a Muslim man whom she plans to marry and introduces him to her father George from Georgia. Imagine the reaction??? Many white Southern fathers would completely disown their daughters if they brought home a Muslim man with skin the color of Obama's or darker. Does that make them a cult? Or is it okay since they weren't homeschooled? Get my point? Disowning kids who choose a path we don't like is wrong but it does not a cult make!

    In our Christian Homeschool co-op one of the kids who graduated in June was just arrested for drug possession and stopped attending church in the middle of his senior year. He is still with his family and they younger kids still come to co-op and he has visited even though he has graduated. He is shown love as he tries to figure it out and I have not heard ONE complaint about he or his family from the over 100 Christian homeschool families involved. Also this family and several others in our Christian homeschool co-op have tattoos and piercings just like other youth. Cult-like and Vision Forum, I think not!

    Again Lewis you hit the nail on the head for the SMALL percentage of Christian homeschoolers who are in fact a cult but you miss the mark BIG-TIME when you make the case that ALL Christian homeschoolers fit that description, or even the majority! We are a BROAD and VERY DIVERSE group. Stick to talking about those who actually follow V.F and Botkin and Pearl and remember the majority do not!

  15. @Taunya...I have no problem with Christians who homeschool. My problem is with the "movement" and industry.

  16. BTW, I agree with you that there are cultic characteristics within some family dynamics both in and out of Christianity, and I believe that "fundamentalist" anything, whether Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, is cultic and dangerous.

    The Christian homeschooling movement is definitely fundamentalist. If not for the rise of fundamentalism over the last century, and for the fundamentalist reaction to eras such as the 60s, the movement wouldn't even exist.

    1. Lewis, how would you define fundamentalism? The term has been hijacked by both critics and by false fundamentalists who are in reality legalists. Belief in the fundamentals of the faith centers on the gospel of Christ, i.e., the gospel of God's grace, which says that God accepts sinners freely, apart from any righteousness of our own, by His grace.

      Cults and other groups that teach conditional love, harsh treatment, and authoritarianism are as un-gospel-like as you can get, and thus (despite what label they, or others, claim for them) are not true Christian fundamentalists. A Christian who really holds to the fundamentals will not wear a yoke of slavery (law), nor attempt to place one on others; will walk in love; will accept others as Christ accepted us; will not be afraid to subject his beliefs to examination, and in fact will encourage it because truth is not afraid of light. Just some thoughts to consider.

  17. Thanks, Lewis - that's pretty much what I was thinking about the definition, as well. You just have a better way of wording it.

  18. Taunya,

    Where do you live? I've lived in two states and without exception, support groups that have "statements of faith" restrictions promote legalistic, cultic home school lifestyles.

    I've been home schooling fourteen years, and I know of no old earth Christian curriculum vendor. Abeka? YE creationism. BJUPress? YE creationism. ACE?School of Tomorrow? Pukishly academically light-weight YE creationism. Apologia? YE creationism.

    I am aware that Sonlight, itself a catalog retail outlet and not a curriculum publisher, allows for OE creationism and normal social lives. That doesn't change Lewis' point about the conventions and vendors promoting a cult ideal, not quality education and equal opportunity for all home schooled students.

    IF you have a support group that requires a statement of faith, you are already exhibiting one characteristic of cults: isolation. You are excluding people from even joining who don't think like the group wants. While you may be allowed to date, your group exists to limit the type of people with whom you will associate and therefore, with whom you could possibly develop a romantic relationship.

    The rest of your point, that all parents transmit their religious values to their children in the normal course of life, IS the point! You don't need to control your child's whole world- what they study, what they watch, what music they are allowed, whom they are allowed to associate with- to pass on the faith.

    So, as a Christian family home schooling, you don't really need a Christian support group. In fact, by isolating your group to Christians only, you are dabbling in cult tactics. Surely there are other home school families in your community, public schooled families, privately schooled families, with whom you could also socialize?

  19. I think Lewis that is why some refer to it as the patriarchy movement because there is really no Christian homeschool movement that fits this description. That is like saying the hip hop movement is synonymous with the "black movement." Black people are diverse and many hate hip hop, lol! Well Christian homeschoolers are diverse and many don't know the first thing about patriarchy and many like me know about it and can't stand it! What you have described is the patriarcy movement, which you have been discussing here with the agreement of many Christians homeschoolers for a while. I just wonder why now the definition has changed to Christian homeschool movement? Christian homeschooling has nothing to do with this!! It existed long before Phillips and Botkin and it will exist after they fade off the radar. They are a small segment or cultic sect if you will, but they are not the Christians Homeschool movement. When you say Christian homeschool movement that would include all who are Christian and include any Christian material in their teachings like I do. Yet we are as far from V.F. as you can get, ask my teen-age homeschooled Christian daughter who know happens to be a mainstream model and has had the same best friend for years who has always gone to public school and whose father sells liquor for a living. I love that child like she was my own, and I love her parents too, and she and my daughter have spent every free moment together since they were six. Yet I do bring my faith into the homeschool and teach my kids from a Christian perspective. Does it sound like a V.F family? According to your definition it would be. I teach my kids at home with my faith in the forefront.

    Take a look at what the authors of Sonlight, a Christian homeschool curriculum producer believe. They are banned from V.F. events. What about Jay Wile the author of the Christian homeschool science curriculum he too is now on the outs with the V.F. sect but his material is Christian and written for homeschoolers.

    Listen I don't mean to attack but I just have felt this shift lately in your writing from talking about the cult of patriarchy to attempting to lump all who bring Christ into their homeschools with the nuttiness that is Vision Forum and company. That is simply not the case. My kids and I can read the bible and study science from that prospective without believing in courtship, no college for daughters, skirts only, and father worship. We can read and study the Bible at home along with math, science, and history without turning nutty and talking about taking over the world politically in some kind of a weird Dominionist way. In fact most ultra conservatives would brand me a liberal and my 16 year old daughter even more so, lol!!!

  20. I'm fully supportive of your approach, Taunya. Again, I'm not talking about Christians who homeschool. I'm talking about the Christian homeschooling movement, founded in dominionism, which has been around since the 70s.

    I don't think there's been much of a shift in my writing about Christian homeschooling. I've been against it since becoming aware of the monster it is a couple of years ago. The P/QF crowd dominates the industry - by design - and has for several decades now.

  21. Lewis,

    Perhaps it would help some of us if you could explain exactly WHAT the Christian homeschooling movement is? Is it actually an official group, or do you use the term "movement" to define a trend that you see within Christian sub-culture?

    The push-back you're receiving from a lot of readers seems to be based around the question of whether or not the indoctrination approach to home schooling is truly what defines the social movement of Christians homeschooling. I think many here feel that there are two parallel movements; the fundamentalist Christian home school movement (what you're talking about) and the Christians who homeschool in healthy ways movement (what they seem to be talking about).

    I wasn't home schooled and don't know tons about it. I'm just stating what I seem to see everyone saying.

  22. @Anon 5:03...

    "Perhaps it would help some of us if you could explain exactly WHAT the Christian homeschooling movement is?"

    A broader definition might be "anything associated, in any way, with HSLDA." Other than that, homeschooling based on curriculum with dominionist, reconstructionist, or fundamentalist ideas or undertones - which probably includes the vast, vast majority of Christian homeschooling curriculum.

    "Is it actually an official group, or do you use the term "movement" to define a trend that you see within Christian sub-culture?"

    It definitely isn't a trend. It's the norm within the world of Christian homeschooling curriculum. The sub-culture has largely been THE culture in those circles for a few decades now. It's a sub-culture within Christianity at large, but it rules the homeschooling world with an iron fist.

    If there's any kind of trend, from my perspective, it's how the dominionist ideas, and concepts within it, are creeping into mainstream Christianity in digestible increments, such as the "guarding your heart" and promise ring ideas, and the "resolution" idea in the lastest Sherwood film - which Doug Phillips is marketing for them.

    "The push-back you're receiving from a lot of readers seems to be based around the question of whether or not the indoctrination approach to home schooling is truly what defines the social movement of Christians homeschooling. I think many here feel that there are two parallel movements; the fundamentalist Christian home school movement (what you're talking about) and the Christians who homeschool in healthy ways movement (what they seem to be talking about)."

    I've been clear here on the blog, many times, that I view the Christian homeschooling movement and Christians who homeschool as two entirely different things. The problem is, of the two groups you present - "the fundamentalist Christian homeschool movement" and "the Christians who homeschool in healthy ways movement" - there's a heck of a lot more people involved in the former than the latter.

  23. Shadowspring I have homeschooled over eleven years in two different states. By the way Sonlight is a curriculum not a distributor I have used them for 11 years. They sell huge binders for each grade level full of the material they write along with lesson plans, and the whole works. They were banned from several V.F. homeschool conferences because in the curriculum the father came out and state he is no longer young earth but believes the earth is millions of years old.

    As to your idea that statements of faith mean cult, I guess that means all religions are cults. I simply don't agree but you are, entitled to your opinion of course.

  24. If a homeschool group requires agreement with a "statement of faith", I'd see that as a red flag.

  25. I see it as making sure anyone who joins knows that we are teaching from a Christian perspective. We meet together for all kinds of classes and activities. I could not in good faith take money from a Jewish person without telling them we are a Christian organization and the activities and functions their kids would be involved in are Christian. I would want to know what a group believed before I joined!! If a group was Muslim I would rather they had a statement saying what they believed so I could decide if I would be okay with that. Anything else is downright deceptive in my opinion.

  26. If they don't agree with the statement of faith, are they still welcome?

  27. This is an excellent post and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Luckily, in my home country, there is very little (that I've encountered, anyway) in the way of this form of homeschooling.

    I have been following, with growing concern, the reports of Christian Homeschooling groups in the US and their cult-like behaviour. I'm certainly not speaking for the majority, just with the ones who use it as a form of indoctrination for their children.

    Hopefully, enlightened Christians such as yourself will speak out more and more against the practice.

  28. I see what you're saying Lewis, and perhaps it would be helpful if you described/explained the history of dominionism in the Christian homeschool movement which goes back as far as the 70's as you stated. Maybe you already have and I just haven't seen it (I just found your blog about a month ago). I'm thinking of something like a "Christian homeschool movement" type timeline. Has that been done?

  29. To answer your question Lewis, yes they are. But not many really want to put their kids into something that could lead them away from their families' chosen faith, kwim? The fact of the matter is the three major religions each think the other two are in gross error. If I were Jewish or Muslim I would not want my kids to be taught in a Christian church or school and as a Christian I don't want my kids taught that Jesus is anything less than God. So our group is all Christian but we would welcome someone of another faith as long as they don't try to stop us from teaching from a Christian point of view and as long as they don't try to convert our children to their faith.

    What is cult-like about that?

  30. @Anon 9:39...Here's some reading with some info on the origins of modern homeschooling, where a segment of it became the "Christian homeschooling movement", and the cultic nature and dogmatic iron fist by which the power brokers within it rule.

    Here's a link with basic info about modern homeschooling's origins. It mentions the more influential people involved in homeschooling as it got it's start in the 1960s - John Holt, Raymond Moore, and Ayn Rand...

    This next one is a loooooong read, but well worth it. It's Raymond Moore's (mentioned in the first link) "White Paper" which details the sociopathic rise of HSLDA, the "4 Pillars of Christian Homeschooling", and the Protestant Exclusivism which has lead to the largely isolationist and cultic nature of the Christian Homeschooling movement...

    For an example of how the power brokers within the homeschooling movement operate, there's the story of Cheryl Lindsay Seelhoff. While it may or may not be true that she was just another religious shark swimming among the religious sharks of the Christian homeschooling circuit, her story is an interesting one...

    Many of the ideas of the power brokers within the Christian homeschooling movement can be traced back to men like Rousas Rushdoony. Here's a little bit of info on Rushdoony...

  31. I don't want my kids taught that Jesus is anything less than God.

    I can understand that, but isn't that ultimately a matter of personal faith and not a matter of academics or education? Would the curriculum be less valid if that weren't a part of it, and that aspect was merely a matter personal to your family interactions and dynamic?

  32. Re: "Were you allowed to come to your own conclusions about these things back then?"
    In regards to the relationship-courtship type curriculum:
    I was never told, "This is THE way" by my parents, but I did swallow what the books said, because I wasn't mature enough to discern otherwise at the time. It all made rational sense then, but I graduated at the age of 16 and wasn't even considering real-life-of-that-nature-relationships yet. Thankfully, there hasn't been any repercussions of that in my life. Up to this point in my life, I haven't dated or courted or whatever. Just had friendships that were getting serious, but then for one reason or another, I made the decision that they were not the right one for me. Still looking for that real man. ha

    As per conclusions to the other books/studies that were of a Christian ore religious nature...I was always reading my Bible and holding that stuff up to that. My family pretty much never attended a church or even home-churched with others but on rare occasions. (*gasp*) so most of my studying I did on my own. So yes, I came to my own conclusions on a lot of that.

  33. P.S Thanks for the clarity on defining the Christian Homeschooling Movement vs. just being Christian AND homeschooling.
    Interestingly enough, we joined a private umbrella type "group" called American Christian Academy, in my senior year and we received our diplomas through them. Before that we were on our own. And yes, my parents did sign a statement of faith (got me thinking) but in reviewing it, I don't see the specifics that raise warning bells. It has things like, " we believe that Jesus is the Son of God" and that He died for our sins. Basic Bible knowledge. And thankfully, other than quarterly meetings, they really have no oversight on us or our function. They encourage self-government the most, which is great.

  34. Regarding statements of faith with homeschool groups...

    My opposition to signing a statement of faith isn't so much about what the statement of faith actually says. It's the necessity of signing a statement of faith for an education. The necessity of signing one almost signals, on its own, that the schooling isn't an educational endeavor, but a religious one. It's a by-product of the rise of the protestant exclusivism detailed in Raymond Moore's White Paper. That exclusivism, as well as entities like HSLDA, has been fueled by fear of "the world". Not necessarily the fears of those at the top making money off of it. Their only fear is that such fear will go away.

  35. It is a matter of personal faith Lewis. I believe my children will fare better being rooted and grounded in the Christian faith. When they are adults they will decide what they want to do with their family but I feel that God has called me to share my faith with them at every opportunity and I love doing it. Do we weave faith into math, no but we do into just about everything else.

    Listen I am black which probably makes my prospective on some things different than yours, I am a woman which does the same to some extent. I am also a Christian and that belief does change the way I see things and yes the way I teach my children. I don't leave my faith at the door to teach history, or science or even art. I see the love of my Savior in just about everything. His love and grace are the most important things in my life and that does transfer into everything I do. It's actually why I can't vote for a conservative in this election, because I believe they are not Christ like in their dealings with the poor. So I could not and would not teach my children by pretending to be someone I am not and checking my faith at the door, and why would I? I believe that faith in Christ will root them and ground them in this life and save them in the next. How could I say I love them and yet not share that at every opportunity?

    That is what is great about our country we are free to live our faith as we choose. Muslims, Jews, Christians we can all send our kids to schools that teach our faith or choose to homeschool. We can also opt for secular public school our choice and I don't think anyone should be made to feel bad about what they choose for their family.

    So would the curriculum be less valid, no, but it also would not be my choice. Simply a matter of choice no more and no less. But I don't think my choice to use a Christian curriculum, should grant me the label of cult. I also don't think my choice to participate in a Christian homeschool group should either. There is nothing wrong with worshiping or socializing with friends who have the same belief system. In fact the bible calls us to gather with believers and be of one mind. I enjoy the fellowship just like I often enjoy leaving the men behind and getting together with women only once in a while!!!

  36. Is it wrong for schooling to be a religious endeavor? Are Christian schools and universities wrong? I don't mean the fundamentalist crazy schools in the news recently, I mean the prominent Christian schools that many in our nation have worked hard to send their kids to because they believe the education there is better than in public school. Many secular people who will do this because the quality of the education is better than public school in many communities, and most recognize, even if they are not Christians, that Christian values are a positive thing that can aide their child in becoming a successful adult. I mean the proverbs alone are just awesome for anyone to learn.

    Statements of faith allow everyone attending, teaching or sending their kids to a religious organization to agree in writing that they are okay with having their children taught from a Christian standpoint. Without them you are subject to lawsuits. In our co-op parents can teach but we won't allow someone to teach that Jesus is not Lord so we need to have them agree to the policy that only teaching from a Christian perspective is allowed. What is wrong with that? That is a right we fought for when we started this country. We are free to have secular schools and we are free to have religious schools. But if I am starting a school from religious point of view I want the parents to agree to have their children taught from that prospective in writing. I don't want a lawsuit when someone claims that I did not honor Mohamed or something and their kid was harmed in some way. I want to be able to pull up a signed statement of faith showing that I acted in good faith toward the family and that they agreed to have their child taught from a Christian prospective. It would be foolish,even reckless to leave that to chance in our litigious society.

    For that matter all families have to sign papers agreeing to a set of rules and regulations for their kids to attend public school. It is for the same reason. Stops lawsuits, this is how what we believe and how we do school. You must agree to this to send your child here. You try sending your child in plain clothes to a public school that has opted for uniforms. They will get kicked out, be denied and education, until they comply. If you attempt to sue you will be pointed to the document you signed saying you agreed to the rules. End of story.

    Not cult-like just making sure we are all on the same page so we don't waste valuable learning time disagreeing. You check out what schools believe public or private, secular or religious and choose the best one for your family knowing they will ask you to state in writing that you are willing to comply with the rules and regs of the institution.

  37. Is it wrong for schooling to be a religious endeavor?

    In my opinion it is. Like I said in the post itself, if religion and education intermingle to the point that failing to accept the curriculum's doctrinal positions results in a failing grade or some form of punishment, it isn't education, but rather indoctrination. I think that's wrong. It's a primary reason why I'm opposed to Bible Colleges. People don't go there to learn. They go there to get indoctrinated.

    I fully respect your right to disagree.

    In our co-op parents can teach but we won't allow someone to teach that Jesus is not Lord so we need to have them agree to the policy that only teaching from a Christian perspective is allowed. What is wrong with that?

    It's not that anything is implicitly wrong with that. It's that it has nothing to do with education. It's a matter of religion, of personal faith.

    For that matter all families have to sign papers agreeing to a set of rules and regulations for their kids to attend public school.

    But in public schools, this waiver (or waivers) has nothing to do with any particular religion or dogma. It's totally a legal matter.

    And again, I fully respect your right to disagree.

  38. Just to expound on this a little more...

    In our co-op parents can teach but we won't allow someone to teach that Jesus is not Lord so we need to have them agree to the policy that only teaching from a Christian perspective is allowed. What is wrong with that?

    Above I said, in response..."It's not that anything is implicitly wrong with that. It's that it has nothing to do with education. It's a matter of religion, of personal faith."

    Where that gets tricky is in the details. For instance, if someone believes that Jesus is Lord, but is a Universalist, would your coop be ok with them teaching from a Universalist's perspective? Or if they were a Preterist?

    That's why I loathe the mixing of religion with education. It leads to exclusion. Education should be education, and faith should be faith.

  39. I don't want my kids taught that Jesus is anything less than God.

    FWIW, public schools don't teach that Jesus is less than God. They simply stay out of questions of religion. I have no problem with that. My kids have attended public schools from kindergarten, and my daughter is now in 11th grade and is very strong in her faith.

  40. Hi Lewis,
    I kind of thought that you would be of the opinion "don't mix religion and education", although I more agree with Taunya in that regard because I do see that my faith is a part of everything and for instance if I am studying science I am already going to be thinking about the one who designed it all, and I can share that wonder & amazement with a child. I DO agree with your statement, "if religion and education intermingle to the point that failing to accept the curriculum's doctrinal positions results in a failing grade or some form of punishment, it isn't education, but rather indoctrination. I think that's wrong." You are absolutely right in that respect.

    I do not believe that homeschooling using Christian curriculum is essential to imparting faith to a child, but if I am going to teach my child then I am going to be honest about how my faith interacts with what I am teaching. I believe God calls each of us to different things at different times depending on our needs. Some children may need to be homeschooled (as mine was for a season), may need private Christian school (as mine is now for this season), and some need to attend public school (as mine will probably do next year).

    I agree that many Christian families who homeschool do so out of fear & absolutely fear is a wrong motivation. But is it most of them? Is it really that *most* of the Christians who homeschool are actually a part of what you would call the legalistic cult of the Christian Homeschooling movement? This I am not so sure about (yes, I know you are). My experience begs to differ.

    This may just be an area that we will disagree on, this issue not being the only thing we will disagree on I'm sure. :) But I appreciate being able to have a respectful discussion of differing opinions. What I believe we do agree on is the centrality & absolute importance of grace, and the very *evil* thing that legalism is, especially when it is applied by parents to children.

  41. @Andrew Clark, first comment: Correlation is not the same as causation.

    @Kristen: I agree. I had 13 years of public school and not once did I hear one word against Christianity, for or against any other religion, or for or against any type of irreligiosity.

    People in general: The Christian homeschooling movement Lewis is describing is real, is pervasive, and has hijacked the discourse regarding homeschooling in the U.S. Once again, the words "Christian," "homeschooling," and "movement" do not mean that all Christians who homeschool and associate with like-minded others are part of this cultlike mentality. But that is how people within this mindset describe themselves: Christian homeschoolers out to make a change in the world.

    I first became aware of the Christian homeschooling movement when I began homeschooling my children. I am Christian myself. But I want the Christian homeschooling movement gone. It is not good for the body of Christ in the U.S., it is not good for the children raised in it, and it is not good for our government. Unfortunately, those are the movement's three main areas of interest.

    Most of the Christian homeschooling movement's products stink from an academic viewpoint. To find a coherent plan for teaching science to early primary students, I had to go with a small-press publication written by an atheist. The Christian homeschooling movement would shun this excellent textbook because it does not recite any of their shibboleths. The movers and shapers at McGraw-Hill would do much the same, but at least they don't proclaim that I am leading my child to destruction by not toeing their line.

    Jenny Islander

  42. Wow Lewis!! No Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu schools of any kind from Kindergarten straight through to college!!! That is an extreme position that I have never heard before and yes I disagree but we are each entitled to our own beliefs. I am just glad we live in the USA where we can have religious schools and universities. They have contributed much to our nation and still offer some of the best education around whether for first graders or at the university level!!! In fact I am not aware of any modern day society that has completely done away with religious schools. Like any type of school or organization secular or religious (look at the one Oprah set up in South Africa) abuse can occur but I don't think teaching the Bible, Koran or Torah alongside Reading, Writing and Arithmetic is wrong as long as it is not mandated by the State.

    Kristen I am well aware that public schools don't teach that Jesus is less than God I sent my oldest to public school for kindergarten, and went to public school many years as a child myself where my mother was my assistant principal and the man who would one day be my father-in-law my was principal. I am very familiar with public schools and have seen a lot of really good ones. In fact I am currently looking at one for my youngest daughter for high school because I am not sure I will homeschool here once my oldest goes off to college.

    What I was speaking of a was a specific situation in a parent led Christian homeschool co-op where a parent of another faith may come in to teach, and being of a Muslim or Jewish faith would want to teach from that perspective. Obviously anyone who is Jewish or Muslim does not believe Jesus is God. Hence we have a statement of faith so all parents know that if they want to join the co-op and teach they must do so from a Christian perspective, i.e not teach that Jesus is anything less than God. Read my comment again you took it completely out of context!

  43. Thanks Lewis, for answering my many questions yesterday....I see now that a lot of your concerns are based on what you see as being the majority opinion in homeschool curriculum (and in those who participate in any groups that call themselves Christian home school). That does clear things up for me.

  44. I won't deny that some people who homeschooling their children deny them the priviliege of thinking for themselves. But I ask you, is a public education any less indoctrinating? In public school children are only allowed to learn the theory of evolution as to how the world began, and are taught to respect all religions as legitimate pathways to God. The religion part is understandable because there are many different religions practiced in the united states and we all have to get along, but not even allowing possibilities of intelligent design in the origins of the universe is indoctrinating students in evolutionary theory the same way that the student you mentioned had been indoctrinated in the young earth creation theory.
    You also say that no homeschooled students learn to think for themselves (or are allowed to), but does every student who receives a public education learn to think for themselves? Or do you admit the possibility that many "swallow the koolaid" of atheistic evolution and relativity of truth that is indoctrinated through evolutionary theory and religious pluralism?
    You also state that everyone has a right to learn to think on their own and make their own decisions. I am unable to disagree. However, if everyone has this right then the parents who are homeschooling their children have every right to teach them anything they want as long as the children are under their authority. If they have that right there's nothing that legitimately can or should be done to stop them.

  45. Taunya wrote:

    "As to your idea that statements of faith mean cult, I guess that means all religions are cults. I simply don't agree but you are, entitled to your opinion of course."

    So, you are equating your support group with a religion? The religion of Christian home schooling?

    Religions have statements of faith to clarify what they believe and attract people of like faith. That's why we go to church (or mosque or temple).

    Your home school support group is functioning like a religion, esp. if people have to sign a statement of faith to join. You recognize this yourself, but I don't think you've thought through the implications.

    And unlike the kingdom of God, which is open to "whosoever will", Christian home school groups exclude not only unbelievers, but Christians who don't "do it right". If not in actual written regulation (as many do) then in social reality, as people who dress up for Halloween, dress in ways the group doesn't approve, listen to secular music, watch the wrong movies, etc. are always shunned.

    Home EDUCATION is a method of education. When you make it a means of socially isolating your children instead, it becomes a cult. And cults only go in one direction: they become more exclusive and more demanding over time.

    If you have a church, you don't need religion in your home school association. Now, if you were the only Christians around, and home schooling was a basic tenet of Christianity, then Christian home school support groups would make sense. The truth, however, is that they are 100% completely unnecessary and do not accomplish anything good for either home schooling or the church.

    Home school support groups were necessary when home schooling was small. They still could perform a needed function if they promoted EDUCATION, and were open to the wide variety of home school families in the community.

    Christian home school support groups are dangerous. They promote home schooling as religious mandate (it's not) and do nothing more than to stroke some egos (Look what great Christians we are! We home school.)while excluding others. They limit your students social opportunities, not expand them. And at their very worst, they are excuse factories for people doing poor to mediocre jobs of actually educating their children.

    You want to support home schooling? Start a home school support group open to all; one that promotes education over ideology. That type of support group is beneficial to the whole home school community, including Christian home schooled students.

    Just another clique of Christian home schooling families is a bad thing, not a good thing.

  46. I once would have agreed with Taunya, by the way, about mixing faith with education. But, honestly, it's a bad idea.

    If you choose not to teach reality-based science, in favor of Christian-biased science, for example, you are robbing you kids of a quality education. When they figure it out as adults, they will be angry at best. At worst they will leave the faith. Many of the atheists I've met online were fundamentalists taught YE creationism at home or in Christian schools. When they found out the truth about science and scientists, they chunked the faith. Why? Because they had been taught lies about reality, lies that could be easily reproved, and those lies were taught as truth by mom and church.

    Even worse are the parents who don't teach higher math, because it only prepares children to be "wage slaves" or is unnecessary for housewives, so why bother? How about the parents of kids with learning disabilities who go undiagnosed, as other parents repeat the mantra "some kids develop slower than others, it'll come at the right time" until said student is a teenager who can't read? Or what about the QF moms who educate the first child well enough, but with each subsequent baby teaches less and less, so that the kids in the middle get a sub-standard education? (The youngest get more attention as the older age out and leave home or are pressed into teaching younger siblings.)

    If you really have been home schooling eleven years, and I believe you, then you have either seen this happen or have been a perpetrator yourself. No, character should not take precedence over education when your child depends on you alone for a decent education. You know families guilty of using good character as an excuse for poor academics, if you are a Christian home school mom with eleven years experience. I believe you.

  47. Great post.
    I went to public schools 1-12th grade, and then for college, as well.

    My parents did not practice indoctrination, and though it was a difficult thing for them in a way, I think, they valued and encouraged their kids (I have one sibling) learning how to think for themselves, and putting that into practice. Schools should be in the business of teaching students how to think. I'm not saying they do that well, and if you can do a better job of that, then by all means, teach your kids, yourself, or switch them to a school that can get the job done.

    My schools never took a position on the identity of Jesus.

    What purpose does indoctrination serve, anyway? It certainly does not enable people to make better decisions about how to live life (that requires critical thinking skills, which they should indeed turn on their religion, as well) and since the Holy Spirit is the one who speaks to one's heart or not, indoctrination is not an insurance policy against unbelief, either.

  48. But I ask you, is a public education any less indoctrinating?

    YES. Resoundingly so.

    In public school children are only allowed to learn the theory of evolution as to how the world began, and are taught to respect all religions as legitimate pathways to God.

    I'm a product of the public school system, and no one ever said a word to me about religion there, at least not after the 3rd grade, where we were allowed to recite "the Lord's Prayer" if we wanted to. Also, teaching on evolution comprised about 1/1000th of my public school education.

    You also state that everyone has a right to learn to think on their own and make their own decisions. I am unable to disagree. However, if everyone has this right then the parents who are homeschooling their children have every right to teach them anything they want as long as the children are under their authority. If they have that right there's nothing that legitimately can or should be done to stop them.

    I haven't suggested anything be done to stop them. I'm only suggesting they stop.

  49. That is an extreme position that I have never heard before and yes I disagree but we are each entitled to our own beliefs.

    I think most people prefer to keep religion and education separate. It isn't an extreme position.

    While the majority of Americans claim one religion or another (primarily Christianity), few actually practice their religion with any kind of passion of consistency, and even fewer worry about it being a part of an educational curriculum.

  50. I largely agree with Taunya, and I think most of you are missing her point.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with weaving one's faith into education, as we strive to be authentic people and our faith is part of who we are and therefore what we do. I would no more try to separate faith from science as I would try to separate math from science. All is connected. All is interwoven.

    Furthermore, I see that you have one idea of what a Christian homeschool group is, and you are broadly applying that to any group that has a statement of faith. I belong to two currently; one who does not fit your description, and one that really does. It is easy for me to spot the difference. One that welcomes non-Christians and non-mainstream Christians who would wish, for whatever reason, to attend classes being taught from such a point of view, and one who frets about including 7th Day Adventists. One who employs quality teachers even if they are not Christian, such as the piano teacher, and one who thoroughly checks out each teacher's church before agreeing to it.

    I was homeschooled, and have been homeschooling my kids *officially* for the past six years, and this is the first year I have personally encountered anything like which you describe. I know hundreds of homeschoolers, Christian homeschoolers who bring their faith into their school, and I can largely not identify with what you write about. I've really only encountered it online. The one other exception is, I remember once we all went to a Bill Gothard seminar in like, the 90's, and my parents were all...what the heck, that was kind of weird. But it didn't really leave much of an impression on me or them, we kind of just moved on. I was taught a YE perspective with an allowance that we don't know exactly how God accomplished it, and science and religion can coexist; they don't necessarily contradict each other, and there is an element of mystery on where they seem to, and that's ok. I was taught to question and to think for myself and make my faith my own, not just spit back pablum.

    I use a variety of resources for my own homeschool, as did my mother. In fact, we've been involved in a secular homeschool resource center for years. There's definitely not a statement of faith there, and we sit alongside atheists, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and everything in between. And this is normal in my rather wide circle of friends who have been homeschooled or are currently homeschooling. I mean, people I know, not just people I read about.

    Basically what I'm saying is, not all groups are alike, and having a statement of faith is not an indication of cult. Is it somewhat exclusive? It can be, sure, but sometimes it's nice to swim around with people you identify strongly with. We have all kinds of streams to swim in; it's simply another type, and there's nothing inherently wrong with it.

  51. Shadowspring What in the world makes you think I don't teach my children mainstream science along with creation. You don't even know if I am old earth or young earth. Listen ask don't tell okay. My oldest is about to take the ACT which unlike the SAT includes science. She has score well above average in every practice test she has taken and has been taught every thing that is taught in a public school and also all that would be taught in a Christian school. If you choose to address me please leave all stereotypes of kooky homeschool moms in denim at the door.

    As to your question about homeschooling parents who are caught up in V.F. and all that muck and refuse to teach upper level math to kids. Yes out of eleven years of homeschooling in two different states having met hundreds of homeschooling families have come across two very legalistic, completely kooky and off the wall former Gothard followers who did this. It was bazaar.

    In our homeschool cc-op math goes all the way up to Calculus and last I checked there were more females than males taking the upper level math classes.

    The kooks among Christian homeschooling are there but they are the minority not the majority.

  52. Lewis private religious schools are EXTREMELY popular with MANY people forking over big bucks because they feel private schools (most of which are religious) offer a better education than public. Even very secular people often to choose this route because they don't feel their kids are getting top notch education in some public schools, especially those in the inner-city.

    I have never heard anyone say that private religious schools are not a good thing. I have never seen or heard anyone secular or religious call for an end to these schools. That is all I am saying.

  53. Shadowspring I can't tell you how off you are, it actually makes me laugh!!! First I belong to a secular homeschool group as well as a Christian, lol!!! Tell my Mormon friends from the secular homeschool group I belong to that my kids and I enjoyed bowling with not to long ago that we are sheltered isolationists!!!

    Did you read the comment where I stated my 16 year-old daughter's best friend since she was six years old is not a Christian??!!!! She spends the night in my house two to three times a month or more and my daughter hangs out with she and her family. The last time she came to my house she wore a t-shirt advertising liquor. That is her and I love she and her family and so does my daughter. She has Christian friends as well but her BEST friend, and the one who has treated her best is this girl and she is welcome in my home and my daughter's life!! Her father sells liquor for a living too OHHHH!!! Wow sounds like I really isolate my daughter from the BIG BAD UNBELIEVERS!!!

    You really are funny and your attempts to pigeon hole anyone who would join a Christian homeschool group as cult-like isolationists are pathetic!! Sorry Lewis I had to go here I don't like the tone this woman used when addressing me. If I have stepped over the line simply don't post this. But Shadowspring girl you really need to step-off, you have no idea what you are saying and your assumptions and wild accusations about my Christian homeschool group and my motives for joining that group only make you look small-minded.

    Also tell my 16 we are isolationists as she walks down the catwalk tomorrow as a model with SECULAR agency with dozens of unbelieving models along side her (who she is friends with by the way)with the video heading to a SECULAR agent in N.Y. city!! HAHAHA!! Isolation??? I don't think so!!! I think my daughter and her friends would laugh in your face. By the way her unbelieving friends know she is a homeschooled Christian and love her and accept her as is. She is constantly being contacted by her friends to give advice on the lasted break-up du-jour between her friends and their boyfriend/girlfriends. They find her wise and a good friend who will not judge and whom they can tell ANYTHING to!!

    Perhaps it is time to realize you have become bitter and petty in you quest to fight the Gothard, V.F., Botkin set and when that happens they win!

  54. I wonder, too, if this is somewhat a regional thing. I don't live near any Amish communities or in the deep south. I live in the PNW, where crunchy granola has been a badge of honor since the 60's. I live in a very 'blue' city in a very 'blue' state. Diversity, autonomy of thought and self while maintaining a thoughtful discourse and interdependency on others, and opportunity are values here.

    We've all had times of being legalistic, we have our kooks here, and our abusive churches. My husband and I attended a very legalistic church that masqueraded as a freedom-loving church (I say freedom in terms of expression, not in terms of what likely sprung to your mind as gun-toting backwoods Ayn Rand fans). They were largely not homeschoolers, and homeschooling didn't figure into it at all, but they were really heading into a cult mentality when we left. Scary stuff. It happens here, and I know I've had my moments of being overly black and white. But for the most part, we're just a lot more laid back over here. It might not look that way thanks to Driscoll, but it's true.

  55. If you guys are Christians who homeschool, and not part of the Christian homeschooling movement, my post isn't about you, and shouldn't bother you.

    I hear from a small number of you that the kooks are the minority within the homeschooling world - and I don't argue that such is your personal experience. The problem is that from the majority of people within the homeschooling world who contact me, I hear the opposite, that the kooks have taken over the industry and the majority of homeschooling groups - and the evidence that I gather supports what they're saying pretty overwhelmingly.

    I've been in hundreds, maybe over a thousand, mainstream evangelical churches, and I know of very, VERY few instances of mainstream Christians homeschooling their children by choice (and there's nothing wrong with homeschooling by choice - I'm just trying to make a larger point). Usually, in the few homeschooling families I've personally known, there were health issues, logistical issues, or some other issues involved which brought them to the choice to homeschool. It isn't anything a church or movement mandated to them as the only "godly" way to do things, and they weren't choosing homeschooling for religious reasons. (As to the curriculum they used, I don't know)

    A few years ago (before all this P/QF crap happened in my life), my brother and his wife decided to homeschool my neice and nephew while my nephew was having some health problems that would make public school challenging. They chose a Christian curriculum, and very soon came to regret having done so, as the very anti-Christ concepts like the father being "high priest of the home" began to surface in the associated materials. Once the health issues had passed, they put the kids back in public school.

    Once the Shepherding Movement and Gothardism began to take hold in some circles in the 70s - Christian homeschooling had fertile ground. Authoritarian churches and denominations, by and large, ALL endorse and promote Christian homeschooling (for indoctrination and control purposes). The wackier versions of the Presbyterians (such as what the McDonalds are associated with) all endorse and promote Christian homeschooling. Sovereign Grace endorses and promotes Christian homeschooling. Some Calvary Chapels endorse and promote Christian homeschooling. The more reclusive and isolationist sects of the Mennonites endorse and promote Christian homeschooling. The leaders within the Christian homeschooling world all come from authoritarian groups like these, or some other fringe authoritarian element of the Christian world. They aren't part of mainstream Christianity. We now have what even amounts to practically a Christian homeschooling denomination, the Family Integrated Church - a grossly cultic concept all its own.

    But, chances are, the little SBC church down the street from your house, the Assembly of God around the corner, and the large non-denominational church in town, know next to nothing about Christian homeschooling.

    The majority of Christians who homeschool come from the authoritarian/fundamentalist elements and fringe groups - not from mainstream Christianity - and they comprise the Christian homeschooling movement.

    This is why I say that of the two groups - the Christian homeschooling movement and Christians who homeschool - there are FAR more of the former than the latter. But, that doesn't mean the latter group doesn't exist.

    If you're part of the latter group, what I'm writing here shouldn't be a concern to you.

  56. Here is what I have personally witnessed:

    *People selling manuals explaining how to get children to accept Christ by inflicting physical pain on the same table as their homeschool textbooks. Next to the hitting manuals: stacks of long flexible rulers.

    *People selling books explaining why paleontologists are Satanic or at best misguided on the same table as their homeschool textbooks.

    *A classmate, raised in the Christian homeschooling movement, who was allowed to attend public school for 7th grade. She confidently proclaimed that "ecology" was wrong because if we killed all the deer on our island, God would just make more. She was upset when we disagreed and finished her education at home. She is now raising more children in the Christian homeschooling movement or in a deeply conservative Christian private school, which amounts to the same thing. It isn't just the blatant disregard for God's command to be rulers of the earth, not a bunch of robber barons; it's the fact that she didn't even know that all of the deer on our island were descended from a herd that was brought here on a steamship by people who wanted to hunt them. I knew this at twelve.

    There's more, but I have to start school now.

    Jenny Islander

  57. Perhaps it is time to realize you have become bitter and petty in you quest to fight the Gothard, V.F., Botkin set and when that happens they win!

    shadowspring is doing FAR more than most to help people who've been hurt by these teachings, Taunya. FAR more.

    If it's going to turn really personal, I'd ask that it be taken to email.

  58. I guess what I object to is you calling it 'the Christian homeschooling movement', because 'the Christian homeschooling movement' I know of, and identifies itself as such, has nothing to do with any of what you speak of. It lends itself to a broad generalization, and I don't appreciate being lumped in with them. You say you not doing this, but the end result is the same. After all, religious reasons are *part* of the reason I homeschool, though not the same reasons that you speak of (I currently have no desire to take over the world for example, or think that if I don't indoctrinate-I-mean-teach my kids exactly precisely what to think or the mean ol' world will get them). It's just too confusing. It sounds totally encompassing, and it sounds innocuous. And yet, it's neither. So when you say 'the Christian Homeschooling Movement', I have a totally different group of people in mind because I have grown up knowing it that way. You're trying to insert it as an *negative* epithet, but none of those words, and those words in order, do not lend themselves as such. So it's confusing. I'm a Christian who homeschools, so in that way I am part of the Christian homeschooling movement as a whole. I think it would be better to come up with a more accurate term that actually described what you are talking about so as to avoid confusion and offense.

    I think Crazy Whackos is good, but I realize that's not terribly descriptive either. ;)

  59. Lewis,

    I totally agree with you on all your points and understand where you define "Christian homeschooling movement".

    I homeschool my children. Rather, we are unschoolers. Because really, any education that is based on a set of standards or list of facts that kids need to know by (insert age) is indoctrination. We believe children should be led by their own curiosities, the Holy Spirit, discussion, exploration, etc. We believe that education lends itself most naturally in everyday life. By simply working and living beside us, our children can ask questions and come to an understanding of our faith in Christ rather than having it pushed on them. Do we go to church and encourage them to participate? Of course.

    But when you say education and religion should be separate your argument is non sequiter. All information is gained through self-will or by force. Anything that is forced without question is indoctrination. School is indoctrination to a certain extent. A better answer would be grace- giving grace towards children in what they want to learn and what views they express without judgement and punishment.

  60. This movement has yet again been brought to thepublic light on the national scale.

  61. Taunya, you said I took your statement out of context-- and I suppose I did. What was was responding to, actually, was Lewis' response to your statement ("I don't want my kid taught that Jesus is any less than God") when he said:

    I can understand that, but isn't that ultimately a matter of personal faith and not a matter of academics or education? Would the curriculum be less valid if that weren't a part of it, and that aspect was merely a matter personal to your family interactions and dynamic?

    I thought, given Lewis' statement, that the issue of public school ought to be brought into a conversation that was, up to that point, all about homeschooling vs. private Christian schooling. Public schools are not the evil thought-twisting atheist organizations they've been painted as. They really are trying to give kids an indoctrination-free education.

    I understand why parents would choose other forms of schooling, especially when the public schools in their area are not good schools. But I think that part of the reason why public schools have so many problems is that so many of those who could work to make those schools good for all children, have deserted them. In many regions the main reason the public schools are so bad is that the upper and middle classes, the religious, etc., have all abandoned the poor, especially those of color, to eke it out the best they can in schools that are no longer truly "public" schools, but "poor-only" schools.

    What I mean is, homeschool or private-school if you need to, to give your kids a better education than the public schools can give you-- but please consider also supporting in some way your local public schools, their fundraisers, their budgets, and their teachers. Jesus wanted us to be "in the world," not isolated from it. :)

  62. Lewis there is no movement that defines itself as the "Christian Homeschool Movement" that believes all the stuff you discuss here. That is the patriarchy movement, not the Christian Homeschool Movement. The Christian Homeschool Movement is a BROAD movement of Christians who choose to homeschool because this is a free country and we want to; enjoy it; feel it is better for our kids; schools in our area are bad; private schoools in our area our expensive; do it during the elementary years and then put them in pubic; or do it in high and put them in elementary for public; unschool; etc., etc, etc. We are DIVERSE!!!

    Part of the Christian homeschool movement includes a large number of black Christians who homeschool because they don't think black history is taught enough in schools and they have huge national and regional groups and are all black, Christian and get this LIBERAL!!! They are part of the Christian Homeschool Movement but you are not even aware of them, most likely. Google it they have a HUGE group in Atlanta.

    I say all that to say I realize you and many who read here have been hurt by a small segment of the HUGE Christian Homeschool movement but you are SO wrong when you assume that the Christian Homeschool Movement is made up largely of the wacko V.F. Gothard types many of your readers were part of. I really don't think you know what you are saying. Of course you have not had contact with the larger body of homeschoolers they would not read your blog or email you because they do not identify with any of this stuff. And you would not have met any of them because you don't homeschool!!

    Perhaps you should consider the fact that you have had a very negative experience with a small segment of Christian Homeschoolers but that should not lead you to believe that what you experienced IS the Homeschool Movement.

    As to the email thing with Shadowspring, no need. I said everything I needed to say in the above comment.

  63. Also, in response to this:

    In public school children are only allowed to learn the theory of evolution as to how the world began, and are taught to respect all religions as legitimate pathways to God. The religion part is understandable because there are many different religions practiced in the united states and we all have to get along, but not even allowing possibilities of intelligent design in the origins of the universe is indoctrinating students in evolutionary theory the same way that the student you mentioned had been indoctrinated in the young earth creation theory.
    You also say that no homeschooled students learn to think for themselves (or are allowed to), but does every student who receives a public education learn to think for themselves? Or do you admit the possibility that many "swallow the koolaid" of atheistic evolution and relativity of truth that is indoctrinated through evolutionary theory and religious pluralism?

    Public schools do not teach children to "respect all religions as legitimate paths to God." They may teach overviews of various religions as part of history or social studies classes, but nothing is said about whether these religions are or are not "legitimate paths to God." Whether or not there is a God, is not addressed either.

    Schools also do not teach "atheistic evolution." They don't teach "theistic evolution" either. They simply teach evolution-- any metaphysics behind evolution are not covered. No ultimate Cause of life, or lack of ultimate cause, is ever addressed. Intelligent Design is not included because it, like YEC and OEC, is really a metaphysical position regarding ultimate causes. Science doesn't deal in those realms. To say that science has anything to say about metaphysics is to joint the ranks of scientism-- the belief that science is the source of all truth and can answer metaphysical questions. Serious scientists do not follow scientism.

    Evolution is taught in the public schools because like it or not, evolution is part of a scientific education. Even if you don't believe it's real, you have to know what it is and what the theory of evolution says. To go into college without a basic, non-biased understanding of what evolution is, is to go into college lacking a foundational base in the sciences.

    Neither do public schools teach "relativity of truth." They don't teach about "truth" at all--not in the way I think you mean it. They don't teach "religious pluralism" because they don't teach that any religion, or all religions, are legitimate-- or illegitimate.

    Public schools try to give students a doctrine-free education, as best they can. Parents are expected to teach doctrine, truth, etc., at home. I like the idea. My kids' public schools do it rather well. (And they have a wonderful anti-bullying policy that I wish they'd had when I was a kid).

  64. Lewis there is no movement that defines itself as the "Christian Homeschool Movement" that believes all the stuff you discuss here. That is the patriarchy movement, not the Christian Homeschool Movement.

    Those are, by and large, the same thing. The patriarchal crowd is the dominant element within Christian homeschooling circles. It absolutely isn't a small segment. It's the controlling segment.

    Once again, I have no problem with homeschooling, with Christians choosing to homeschool, or with a "Homeschool Movement".

    My problem is with the Christian Homeschooling Movement - which is, at its core, patriarchal, neo-conservative, very rigid in gender roles, and fundamentalist.

    Why is it so important for some of you to be labeled as part of the "Christian Homeschooling movement"? Is it not enough to be a Christian who just happens to homeschool?

    If I wanted to introduce materials and present curriculum at a state Christian homeschooling convention, and my materials were Old Earth, egalitarian, didn't mix faith and patriotism, supported feminism, questioned the existence of an eternal hell as per the fundamentalist/literalist interpretations, promoted Universalism, promoted Preterism, believed there to be scientific support FOR evolution - a mix of one or two, or all, of those things - all while proclaiming that Jesus is Lord, what are the chances I'd be welcome?

    This is the exclusion and closed-minded mentality - produced by fundamentalist paranoia - pervasive within the Christian Homeschooling movement. If it doesn't apply to you, you're not a part of the movement I'm writing about.

    I'm NOT changing my wording or terminology. It fits. Very few people have taken any issue with it. Most seem to understand and agree for the most part.

    If the term "Christian Homeschooling movement" is something people feel is worth fighting for - then fight the elements which have raped and ravaged the industry and circuit rather than circling the wagons around some terminology.

    No one is trying to take the educational rights or choices of anyone else away here.

  65. Kristen you and I agree on public school!! That is why as stated above I am looking to put my younger daughter in public school when she gets to high school. I am not anti-public school. I choose to homeschool now because that it what I think is best but public school can be a fine choice as well and I encourage all to consider it. I am the child of a public school teacher, turned counselor, turned principal, lol!!! Also my inlaws were both public school teachers, then principals and one went on to be a public school superintendent before retiring. We support public schools and my husband just did a stint as School Board Chairman of one of our local public charter schools. He would not have been appointed to that position if we did not support public schools. You are preaching to the choir on that one!!!

  66. Taunya,

    I was addressing your ideas, in quotes, and then I went on to critique the Christian home school movement at large. I am not sure how/why you decided I was declaring you personally guilty of all the various horrendous happenings of Christian home school support groups. Please calm yourself down, and re-read my posts, without the idea that they are an accusation.

    My observations are accurate. They may not (and I hope do not!) accurately describe YOU, but they do accurately describe many.

    I did say that if you have indeed been homeschooling eleven years, you can verify the truth to which I am bearing witness. I do not believe you could have been home schooling for eleven years and NOT have seen this happen!

    There are scores of parents- Christian parents- giving a sub-standard education to their children and they know it. They reassure themselves that character matters more or that working for others is a sin. Entrpreneurs don't need college anyway, nor do SAHMs, goes the story, so it's no big deal that the kids don't really understand physics or economics or history.

    If you haven't heard this, you are probably just too close to the situation to dispassionately observe the goings on. I have been home schooling for fourteen years,and I have seen it all.

    Have I seen well-educated home schooled students? Absolutely! Some of them were even Christians. The classical education types make sure their children are all well-educated academically, and well-indoctrinated to boot.

    I am guessing you haven't checked out any of my links, but I stand by them all. In the end, your taking offense with me and angrily defending your home school doesn't matter anyway. Your children ten years from now, long after they have moved into adult life, that's whose opinion will really matter.

  67. I read here almost every day and have decided to de-lurk.

    I think we need to differentiate who we are talking about here. I get the sense that some people mostly have the leaders of state support groups/popular speakers/authors/etc in mind, while others posters have mostly homeschoolers with little influence on others in mind. There is a big difference between someone who makes their living from selling fear (Vision Forum, Bill Gothard, etc) and average Christians who homeschool.

    While I've only homeschooled a year, I think that regional differences may be big. In my current southern state, there is a lot of legalism attached to many homeschooling families. I grew up in the north, and while homeschooling is much less accepted there, I really doubt it has as much baggage attached to it. Northerners seem less religious, and certainly have fewer Baptists. All this patriarchy non-sense is much less likely to sell and catch on where I grew up.

    At one point, after leaving a Family Integrated Church and trying to recover from the fallout, I seriously considered moving back to my home state. I'd rather hang out with atheists (well, at least non-militant ones; Richard Dawkins is out) and agnostics than more legalistic people.

  68. Okay, let me see if I can remember my train of thought...

    When we were at the FIC, people were continually amazed that I decided to homeschool any future kids when I was in college and not a Christian. (I read some stuff by John Taylor Gatto, and even though I didn't want kids, I decided if I had them, I would homeschool them.) It seemed hard for them to believe a non-Christian would be interested in homeschooling. For these people, homeschooling was clearly about religious beliefs.

    Since I've left the FIC, I've met a few other homeschooling families at events. None of them seemed to find it strange that I decided to homeschool before becoming a Christian.

    A Christian neighbor is considering homeschooling because she'd like to see her kids during the day, instead of just at the end when they are tired from their long day. A woman I met at a secular homeschooling event pulled one son from school because the bullying was so bad. Another woman started homeschooling for academic reasons.

    Homeschooling is becoming more mainstream. At the same time, state conventions and support groups seem to be getting "infiltrated" by those with dominionist/patriarchal agendas. A look at the list of speakers at my state's convention showed that 80% of the talks were not about academics. Why would I want to go to that? Why would any non-Christian want to go? I know at least 3 of the families serving on the board because they went to the same FIC. No wonder the convention seems to revolve around topics other than academics.

    I'm a frequent visitor at The Well-Trained Mind forum. While it has some legalistic members, most of the members are primarily concerned about giving their kids a rigorous education. Last spring, during convention season, so many members were upset about their local conventions being about anything but academics that they tried to figure out how to put together their own. There are homeschoolers, Christians included, that think a good education should be the big goal.

    Since homeschooling is becoming more mainstream (people pulling their kids so they can spend more time with them, avoid bullying, avoid local gang ridden schools, or avoid academically failing schools), I wonder if there might be a shift in the next ten years out of this lunacy. Yeah, the loons will be out there, but maybe they will be diluted down with regular people who choose to homeschool as the best choice for their family, rather than because of fear of "the world."

  69. I think I didn't make my last point clear.

    Families that have been homeschooling for 10+ years (that started when it was still very unusual and few people had heard of it) may be more likely to be legalistic than those that are just starting. In our area, there seems to be a critical mass being hit where more average parents are considering trying it out for a year to see how it goes. These people will be less likely to have the attitude of "public schools are ungodly, the government has no business in education at any level, and I hope they all fail" like some of the FIC people I know.

    An aside, one of my friends from the FIC once told me that they read books for character "not for information." I had asked if they used the local library and she said they were only using the library from another church. I was too stunned to reply or ask what she meant!

  70. @Hoppy...I don't disagree.

    I think my primary concern with the newer generation of homeschoolers (or, those who just happen to be Christian) is the tendency for them to look for "Christian" curriculum, and the terrible lack of non-dogmatic material and curriculum available to them if they choose that route.

    It's easy for the little nasties, like the character and purity teachings and such, to sneak in in small, digestible portions - the same way its seeping in to mainstream Christianity.

    That's the primary reason I don't like the mix of religion and education. If I were planning to homeschool, I'd look for a strictly educational curriculum to academically prepare my children for their future - and when I get ready to talk to my kids about Jesus, I'll talk to my kids about Jesus.

  71. Hoppy,

    I have to be open about the fact that I have never lived west of Texas or north of Virginia. There may be some regional influence.

    On the other hand, I know Colorado is up to their neck in patriarchal, dominionist, homeschool-as-religious-demand folks too, though I couldn't say about New York or California. I DO know that they are thick as gnats on a summer night around here.

    I also want to comment on that profile of the new homeschooler vs. the oldsters. When I lived in my last state, before I completely stopped hanging out with religious home school groups, the state leadership had coined a term for the newcomers: public school refugees. The term itself has connotations of way, and would you be suprised to know that the general consensus was against helping them?

    Christians turning their back on "refugees"? Yep. It was determined that they weren't "real" home schoolers and would put their students back in public school as soon as the pressure was off.

    To which I say: what's wrong with that?

    Answer: not a thing.

    Home school is an educational option, not a divine mandate.

  72. I don't think talking about math or social studies and talking about Jesus are mutually exclusive. I don't think any subject is mutually exclusive, though. It's why I am personally such a fan of unit studies and unschooling :D Ha.

    I think what you are talking about is when Jesus is talked about *instead* of academic subjects? Or when each subject has a super legalistic bent, so that peppered in with the times tables is some legalistic, dogmatic opinion that is taught as absolute truth alongside actual observable truths?

    I do admit that there are, and have been since I was a child in the 80's, curriculum that is heavy on the dogma and light on the facts. But we never worried about that, because we drew from so many different sources. I always felt like it was just another perspective, and that's how it was taught to me. It never occurred to me that people would take as absolute one particular book and never learn a more well-rounded version of things. For instance, I remember reading through an A Beka history book and thinking that it was incomplete. I figured it's because, really, all history books are incomplete since they are short snapshots of hundreds or thousands of years of happenings and information. And, therefore, it was important to investigate further. It never occurred to me that there was an agenda behind it; it was just another voice to examine.

    In contrast, I remember reading through some Rod & Staff materials (Mennonite and very legalistic) and learning to discern the good and bad of it, not throwing the baby out with the bathwater but being very aware that not everything was to be swallowed whole. To me, there WAS an agenda with those books, but it was obviously written to the Mennonite community from the Mennonite community I didn't think of it more deviously than that. So while there was good information, there was also ideas that I thought didn't hold up to scripture or my experience or our family's values and I rejected them. I had friends who were Mennonites, complete with the head coverings and long dresses. I very, very distinctly remember going to a funeral for my friend's grandparents and wearing a skirt to be honoring. She commented that she appreciated the skirt, but that it was too short and my peacock-blue colored tights were too bright to be appropriate. I think I was 8 or 9. And I remember thinking that it was a cultural thing for her, not a sudden conviction that I wasn't a good Christian for not wearing ankle-length skirts and demure colors. They didn't homeschool, btw. At least they didn't at that point. Heh.

    Again, it makes me wonder if this is somewhat regional. So far, the only super dogmatic types I have only recently discovered all come from the same church. I'm sure you can guess which church that is. Other than that, it is largely my experience that Christian homeschoolers in this area who have religion as part of their reason for homeschooling do not fall into this category. Having been part of the movement for over 20 years, I just think it's interesting and worrisome. I think you are right that the weirdos are trying to invade; it just hasn't caught on as much here.

  73. And how about using the Bible to teach your kids about Jesus, instead of using a curriculum that was written by a human that talks ABOUT the Bible?? Just saying. ;)

    Lewis, this is sorta-kinda off topic, but I want to commend you for your very astute observation that P/QF thoughts are starting to seep into mainstream Christianity in "digestible chunks." This is what I've been screaming about for a couple of years now, and nobody listens. I hope more people will start paying attention.

    I love that you point out the "guarding your heart" phenomenon as an example of that. That was one of those meaningless phrases that everyone at my Christian college used to throw around. Meanwhile, i was out dating and having a good time. :)

  74. I've invited someone to share an essay she's written specific to the history, origins, influences, and goals of Christian homeschooling. It's WELL researched and was part of a college assignment. It's speaks directly to the issues I've been attempting to address in this (and other) posts. She'll be posting it in increments as time allows. It's well worth the read.

    Also, it's under COPYWRITE, so thank you for not reposting or publishing the material without her consent.

  75. BTW...I've asked her to post in this particular comment thread, being it's pertinent to the discussion we're having.

  76. Hah...Look at that public school education...


  77. I really do think you need to call the people you are attacking something other than "the Christian Homeschooling Movement". It IS too all-encompassing and is not fair to all of us who are not patriarchal/QF types.

    Concerning religion and education, EVERYONE is religious. Even the atheist. All religion is is a set of beliefs- what you believe about life, death, nature, etc. There is no way that there is no religion in public school. Teachers and students included inherently bring it in every day because you cannot totally hide what you believe of life and the world around you. I am not against public school, btw.

    All I ask is that you not be so blinded by your hatred that you lump all of us homeschoolers who happen to love God in with the wackos.

  78. Here's the essay Lewis mentioned, in several parts because it's long. Please do not copy it anywhere else. It was submitted as assessment for part of a course in my Bachelor of Arts program and as such will show up in all the college systems should anyone try to pass it off as their own work.

    It explains what Lewis is referring to when he says "the Christian Homeschooling Movement".

    Grassroots in Education: A History of the Modern Christian Homeschooling Movement in America

    By Katy Anne Wilson


    The story of the modern homeschooling movement in fundamentalist and evangelical Christian circles, who currently dominate this movement and have done so for more than a quarter of a century now, is a story of manipulation. A lot of the modern homeschooling movement happened because of the “culture wars” which started to emerge in the 1920’s. In fact the whole premise of this paper is that the main reason the modern homeschooling movement is as strong and popular as it is currently is because the religious right wanted to gain political and cultural influence in order to “take back America for Christ” and turn the USA into a Christian country. The religious right want to force the American people to live by their ideals and their morals by changing laws in America.

    This paper focuses on the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian homeschoolers because 85% - 90% of homeschoolers are fundamentalist or evangelical Christians. (Gaither 2009, p. 341) When the modern homeschooling movement first started there were roughly 10,000-15,000 children who were homeschooled in the USA, but by the mid-80’s the professional estimates are at somewhere between 120,000 and 240,000 (Gaither 2009, p. 341) and now that number is even higher at 1.35 million children in the United States are now homeschooled, (Cooper & Sereau 2007, p. 110) with the majority of these being fundamentalist or evangelical Christians.

    The modern homeschooling movement started as a grassroots effort in the 1970’s on the part of secular educational reformers who believed that an institutionalized school setting was not conducive to their children’s education and wanted to educate them through means they considered to be more natural. By the 1980’s, the fundamentalist Christians, the ideological homeschoolers, were beginning to infiltrate the homeschooling movement and by the mid-80’s had completely hijacked the movement from its founders original intentions and had turned it into a political fight against society. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) During the 1970’s the “Christian Right” (fundamentalists and a lot of evangelicals) rose to a position of great political influence. (Dowdy & McNamara 1997, p. 162)

  79. Educational History in the USA

    Emergence of the Public School System in America

    The public school system in America originally emerged as a protestant religious initiative in the 1830’s and was established by the religious fundamentalists such as the Calvinists, Puritans and the Reformers. (Goldfield et al. 2001, pp. 403 - 404). The Puritans believed that everybody should learn the Bible as well as basic math, reading and writing skills, and they thought that the best way to do this was to develop a public school system. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 403). Klicka (1995, pp. 117-118) claims that the main reasons for wanting the children educated at all were so that children could read the Bible for themselves and if they could read and understand it for themselves then they would obey it. The main goals of the original public school movement were literacy (but only as it pertained to learning to read and obey the Scriptures) and vocational training (which was really either household work, the trade of the child’s parents, or an apprenticeship in another trade). Although colleges have existed in some form in the USA since the 1700’s, the goals of the Colonists did not usually include a college education for their children. (Klicka 1995, pp. 117-118). However the public school system was very loose and unregimented until the 19th century.

    The public school system was overhauled and reshaped between 1880 and 1920. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 681). The 1920’s were the start of what has been dubbed the “culture wars” (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 777). It was during this time of public school reform that things such as compulsory attendance laws came about, and when kindergarten was started and age appropriate segregated classes were formed. The public schools began to hire professional teachers, and the schools provided students with vocational training. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 681).

    Although it was fundamentalist Christians who began the public schooling movement, they abandoned it in droves during the 1980’s in order to home school. Secular educational reformers started the modern homeschooling movement which was soon taken over by the Christian fundamentalists and while secular people homeschool, it is not to the same magnitude as the Christian fundamentalists. There are also many Christian fundamentalists who place their children in public schools too but there are many more who home school.

  80. The Modern Homeschooling Movement

    When the modern homeschool movement began, it was actually lead by secular educational reformers in the 1970’s (Coleman 2010, unpub.) who believed that schools damage children. The two secular leaders of the modern homeschool movement were John Holt and Raymond Moore. (Gaither 2009, p. 339) In the 1980’s Christian fundamentalists began to join the homeschool movement in large numbers, but for different reasons than the secular crowd. Coleman (2010 unpub.) refers to the secular educational reformers as “Pedagogues” and the religious crowd as “Ideologues”, because some homeschooled for pedagogical reasons and some for ideological reasons. During the 1980’s the Pedagogue crowd and the Ideologue crowd worked together with common goals such as making homeschooling legal in all 50 states of America. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) By the early 1990’s, homeschooling was legal in all 50 states even for parents with no teaching certifications. It was at this time that the Ideologues split off completely from the Pedagogue crowd having completed their goals of making homeschooling legal. The split had been inevitable and had been in progress since about 1985. (Gaither 2009, p. 340)

    The Pedagogues simply wanted their children to be able to learn in a natural environment rather than be in institutionalized schooling, because they believed that natural learning was better for their children. Their primary motive was that their children be well-educated. Whereas the primary motive of the Ideologues was to religiously indoctrinate their children in Christian fundamentalism. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) In fact, most religiously motivated homeschoolers believe that they are fighting a culture war and that they must keep their children from being influenced by society, which they usually call “the world”. The culture wars are very important to fundamentalist Christians, and they believe that they are raising children in order to “take back America for Christ”. (Coleman 2010, unpub.)

  81. Culture Wars

    The culture wars in the USA emerged in the 1920’s and they continue until this day. (Goldfield et al. 2001. p. 777). The USA had gone through many social changes and people were reacting to the changes.

    The Main Issues

    The main issues in the 1920’s were 1) a new morality promoting greater personal freedom which those who were against this thought would take away pre-existing morality. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 2). The teaching of evolution was being promoted as progress in science but there were people who believed this to be a threat to their religious beliefs and freedoms. In fact one of the major players in the culture wars was the famous “Scopes Trial”. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 3). Jazz music emerged and was met by enthusiasts as something that was important to culture and modern. There were those who opposed this however due to the beat and style of the music. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 4). Immigration was a major issue in the 1920’s, some wanted greater diversity and to allow immigrants from all different places, but many saw this as a threat to their white privilege. They argued that it was important to block certain kinds of immigrants due to the fact that they wanted to maintain the rights and interests of white, protestant, males. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 5). Prohibition was a name given to a policy that outlawed liquor. Those who were in favour of the prohibition argued that by prohibiting alcohol, families were stronger, crime rates were lower, and society was more stable. Those who were against the prohibition claimed that people needed to be allowed to make their own choices about their own lives without the government interfering. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 6). Religious fundamentalism was also a large part of the culture wars, and is also one of the main focuses of this paper. Christian fundamentalists wanted to observe what they considered to be traditional Christian beliefs based on the Bible. However many people saw the Christian fundamentalists as intolerant and dogmatic, and saw them as a hindrance to social and political progress. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 7). Racism was still an issue at this time and the Ku Klux Klan emerged claiming to be an organization that promoted admirable values such as community responsibility, patriotism, and traditional values in society. Those who opposed the Ku Klux Klan saw them as a group of bigoted racists who resorted to violence to try to force their values on society. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 8). Popular culture also began its rise during the 1920’s and many thought that it provided them with great entertainment and was something that helped them to relax, but many also saw it as something that posed a threat by convincing people to conform to the ideals of the artists or authors of popular culture. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 9). The consumerism mindset was also coming about in the 1920’s, and this caused people to have a higher standard of living and they were able to own more things. However those against this mindset saw it as selfishness and also as wasteful.

  82. Some of the main issues in the culture wars in the USA remain the same to this day. Religious fundamentalism, as this paper shows, is still a major player. Goldfield et. al. claim that the main contender of the culture wars today is women’s rights. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 781). The modern homeschooling movement is dominated by religious fundamentalists, who for the most part are against women’s rights. The fundamentalists also kicked back against the supreme court decisions to outlaw organized school prayer and Bible reading. This remains a large “culture war” value to the Christian fundamentalists today. (Gaither 2009, p. 338). The other main contenders are gay rights, abortion, euthanasia and social justice. (Cimino and Lattin 1998, p. 145) The culture wars lead us into the political realm as the fundamentalist homeschoolers believe that they can use their right wing conservative politics to influence and even infiltrate the government and manipulate them into governing America by fundamentalist ideologies and interests. (Coleman 2010, unpub.)

  83. Right Wing Conservative Politics

    Christian fundamentalists consider America to be a Christian nation founded by Christians and on Christian principles. The Christian fundamentalists are highly involved in political activism, and their workforce is made up mostly of stay at home wives and mothers. (Gaither 2009, p. 337). Cooper and Sereau state that parents who homeschool are more highly involved in politics than parents of children in public or private schools, and they are involved by voting, contributing money, contacting officials and attending rallies. (Cooper & Sereau 2007, p. 122). They also say that homeschool families are politically savvy and have used an intense political commitment to advocate some real change in society on the issue of homeschooling. These families are very well organized and have lobbied for their rights. (Cooper & Sereau 2007, p. 125)

    Coleman (2010, unpub.) claims that the religious fundamentalist homeschoolers are also politically motivated and intend on solving the culture wars through political platforms. She further says that the Christian fundamentalist homeschooling crowd are now a very strong and powerful political force. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) which is run by Mike Farris fights for the rights of fundamentalist Christian homeschoolers. These homeschoolers also have their own college to accept homeschooled children called Patrick Henry College. And many a high school or college aged Christian fundamentalist homeschooled child finds themselves being involved in political activism for the conservative religious right. The religious right also successfully infiltrated the Republican party in the 1980’s and have been strong in their political involvement ever since. (Dowdy & McNamara 1997, p. 168). Cimino and Lattin (1998, p. 137) claim that the religious right is heavily involved in wanting to make America into a Christian nation and therefore push their fundamentalist ideals onto everybody. Many of these fundamentalists are Christian Reconstructionists, a movement which advocates bringing back many of the Old Testament laws and living a life based strictly on the Bible. There are, however, some Christian fundamentalists who do not advocate reconstructionism but rather they fight for “traditional values” or “family values” which is where the culture wars come into the picture. (Cimino & Lattin 1998, p. 137)

  84. Conclusion

    The Ideologues see homeschooling as a major way to wage the culture wars and gain political clout, trying to get America to live by traditional white, Protestant, fundamentalist values. These fundamentalists are now unhappy with the public school system that was a Christan fundamentalist initiative in the first place, many homeschool their children in order to teach them their own ideologies. If they can have lots of children and indoctrinate those children well enough into their belief system, they’ll have a new generation to carry out their plan as they will believe the same thing their parents did. If they sent their children to public school their children would be taught a different worldview and would have much less chance of growing up to be a right wing, conservative, Christian fundamentalist.

    Although there are plenty of secular families who homeschool, this paper focused on the religious right, the Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals, because they make up the bulk of the homeschooling modern homeschooling movement and have certainly had the most influence. These people homeschool in order to wage a “war” on the culture, wanting to change American society into a Christian society based on Biblical values and rules, as interpreted by the religious right and not necessarily by what the Bible actually says.

    It is very important for American society that they realize the magnitude of what is going on here. The Christian fundamentalists basically took over an entire movement and rallied their own crusades for homeschooling, so that they can pass these same ideologies on to their children whom they hope will repeat the pattern. Their goal is to infiltrate further into the political arena, in order to fight the culture wars. If Americans want to be sure that they won’t be executed for being homosexual or for having an affair, or live under other such laws, they had best keep a close eye on the actions of the conservative right wing Christian homeschoolers and not underestimate their influence.

  85. Mrs. Taft,

    It's called "overkill". There is no reason to talk about Jesus in math class. It's strained and awkward pushing doctrine into every subject, because it doesn't naturally come up. Maybe you can stick into early elementary arithmetic, but it's still strained and awkward.

    Since you are an unschooler, that should be obvious to you. I thought unschooling was all about answering questions as they come up, and encouraging personal exploration of the world through one's own initiative? So, as an unschooler, shouldn't you only be talking about religion when your student shows curiosity? And then, shouldn't you be encouraging your students to personally seek out the answers to their questions (with your guidance when they are very young, of course)?

    When a parent is pushing, pushing, pushing religious ideas OVERTLY, rather than letting their heart be the living epistle read and known by all men, it's not sharing faith. THAT is indoctrination. I lived it for years, and I know the fruit it produces. I highly recommend against it.

    The same practices that all families of faith share is all that is necessary to teach reverence for God: family devotions, family prayer, attending services together. As a Christian home schooler, there is the added opportunity for your students to see YOU singing praise to God as you go about your day, hear YOU pray with friends, watch YOU do acts of service from a heart of compassion. Such devotion is caught, not taught.

    When you add to that the overt Christian overkill curriculum, it's like over-watering a garden. Your plants will not thrive, and neither will your children.

    Further, the exclusive Christian home school support groups-by their very existence- are NOT teaching your children to love like Jesus loves. They are passing on the "stay away and do not come near me, for I am holier than thou" attitude that is a stench in God's nostrils. (Slap that in Bible Gateway for the reference.)

    After all, who are they excluding? Other home schooled families are being excluded, for not being religious enough. Do you think the crowds following Jesus were only comprised of the uber-religious? Did Jesus confine his social contacts to synagogue people? No, of course not.

    Actions speak louder than words. You may tell your children to love their neighbor as they love their own self, but in reality if you are part of an exclusive group formed to meet your own needs, you are teaching the opposite. You are teaching, as the church lady would say, that we are just "a little bit better" than the other guy, so the other guy can't hang with us.

    Peace and good will, even in disagreement.

    ps In my previous post, the word "way" is a typo and should read "war".

    pps Lewis- lolz

  86. I also wanted to caution parents against allowing the Bible to take a prominent place in science or history. Prepare for backlash if their learning continues beyond your home school education, should you do so.

    If you want to teach your children about light, and you muse on the scripture "God is light" because the though naturally occurs to you, well and good.

    OTOH, if it is in your text, and on your test, not good. Not good because it has nothing to do with science. Learning and tests about light should be about the nature of light. Ditto for biology, physics, geology, etc. If, in teaching it, you feel inspired spiritually and let it show, fine. But putting religion in by rote, in the official text, and especially if it is part of any test, not fine.

    You have intrinsically linked the veracity of the Bible with the veracity of the science you are teaching. If your science was not accurate, the logical equivalent is that your Bible is not accurate. If you are teaching creation science, you are teaching lies and half-truths, albeit unwittingly. Still, when your students finds this out, it makes the Bible look false, when in reality, the Bible is completely accurate in all matters of faith. It's just not a science textbook, and attempts to make it so fall short.

    Many Christian science texts are so biased that an over-confident home schooled student, taught by these texts to challenge professors, risks being shamed in front of the whole class for trying to defend the inaccuracies he/she was taught as fact. Don't embarrass your student like that, please.

    Love your children, nurture their hearts, help them when they struggle, forgive their immature teen mistakes, and love them some more. Less overt religion, more Jesus with skin on. Teach them objective truth, without overkill indoctrination, and let Jesus take it from there. After all, they are His sheep, not yours. You were just charged with raising the to adulthood; they are His for all eternity.

    Peace and good will, ~SS

  87. Where history is concerned, if you're going to bring religion into it, be sure and include the whole picture. For example, talk about the reality that many Christian used the Bible to support slavery, as surely as did the brave souls in the abolitionist movement who read a different message in the Bible. Both views were "biblical". In fact, pro-slavers had more proof-texts on their side, to be honest. Did you plan on teaching about how proof-texting leads to error, and how the Great Command of Jesus (love one another, as I have loved you) trumps all other commands? Then that is accurate historically and brings faith into it. Good for you.

    Or were you just going to go with the disdainfully proof-texted Christian curriculum providers? Incomplete and inaccurate "facts" in your history texts will eventually be exposed if your students continues to educate themselves, either as lifelong unschooled learners or university students or both. Best be honest and complete from the beginning, or you will make the faith itself look false.

    If you teach about evangelism and the Westward expansion, are you going to include the horrendous religious boarding schools that young Native Americans were forced to attend, all in the name of Christianity? If so, I recommend "The Missionary Myth" by Vivian Palmer Harvey. For the younger set, there is always "Attack in the Rye Grass" by Dave and Neta Jackson, which leaves out boarding school but masterfully portrays the mission to bring the heathen to Christ for what it often was: corrupt and self-serving.

    Are you going to teach how the Assemblies of God church, through jealousy and racism, co-opted the Azusa street revival? If so, "Journey to the End of the Earth" by Dave and Neta Jackson is an excellent resource.

    I hope that home school parents will wake up and stop putting money into dominionist pockets. These sources rarely teach the whole story in their history texts, nor do they admit their bias. If you are going to use them, please balance them with other sources. Point out their bias, and the bias of other sources, and teach your students to critically evaluate the whole picture.

  88. There are many new (and old) home schoolers that have NO idea re: the origins of this specific Christian home school movement you have been discussing. I hope the essay will open some eyes and clear the air here of some confusion! Thank you for arranging for the post!

  89. @Katy-Anne...Thank you for posting your essay. I appreciate it.

    @Anon 11:23...You're welcome. I posted a link to Raymond Moore's "White Paper" earlier. Combine it with Katy-Anne's essay, and I don't think it can be made any clearer.

  90. @Anon 6:33AM...I'm not changing any of my terminology. I don't see any need to.

    If anything, I hope it's making people examine their motivations and approaches toward homeschooling. If they're good there, my terminology shouldn't bother them.

  91. One more thing I want to add...

    For those of you claiming I'm lumping the reasonable people in with the wackos...Have any of you guys read anything I've written - whether in the post itself, in the comment thread, or in previous posts about Christian homeschooling????

    Ya'll are lumping yourselves in with the wackos. Don't point at me. There are only so many times I can say something like this...

    "I've no problem with homeschooling, or with Christians who homeschool. My problem is with the Christian homeschooling movement."

    ...and I've said it several times in the comment thread of this post alone.

  92. Homeschooling itself isn't the problem. It's merely another mode of education - and a good mode when done right.

    When homeschooling becomes mixed with religion, or becomes a religious endeavor, it becomes a gateway, and that's the problem.

    There are VERY FEW homeschoolers who homeschool for religious reasons who aren't being exposed to, and in some cases promoting (even if unwittingly) at least some of the legalism and religious addictions of the Christian homeschooling movement, whose curriculum doesn't have at least some (and usually a LOT of) religious cultic language within it.

    If what I've written here doesn't apply to you - there's no need to defend your choices.

    Ideas like patriarchy, quiverfull, courtship, purity pledges and contracts, promise rings, and so forth, aren't coming from mainstream Christianity (homeschooling isn't pervasive in mainstream Christianity) or from the public school system. Those ideas are coming from the Christian homeschooling world.

  93. Final Hopefully-Not-Invisible AnonymousNovember 9, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Wow. I feel like a little kid listening to her parents fighting who doesn't want to take sides. : (

    I was only "immersed" in "Christian" "homeschooling" (treading carefully with the terminology here!) for a couple of years, during which time I also had kids in public and private Christian school.

    We joined two local co-ops because they had performing arts programs. Both were very conservative Christian, provided HSLDA materials at orientation, and I'm sure contained lots of members who mostly homeschooled for religious reasons and to keep their kids out of public school. There was a statement of faith, but as I recall only teachers had to sign one. I remember seeing some girls who only wore skirts and a couple of Duggar-like families dressed alike at the resale events.

    On the other hand, most kids, like my son, dressed as they pleased. Other than prayer, I don't think there was much overtly religious content in the classes. Some kids misbehaved and got in trouble between classes. Many kids also took classes at public school, including the band director's kids (VERY cooperative relationship here). The band and choir did secular and religious music. My atheist friend's kids attended drama class with my son and they put on a full scale production of Beauty and the Beast.

    We didn't join them, but my son participated in the Geography Bee, Spelling Bee, and Bible quizzing with three different "Christian" "homeschooling" groups. We took field trips with a secular homeschooling group and an art class with a second.

    So in our area, just a few years ago, living near an urban area that is not in the south but heavily HSLDA (which we did not join), we knew of at least ten different regional homeschooling groups, most were Christian, and none were like what is being described here.

    Just an hour or so the other (rural) direction, however, is a group that has gone so far as to buy land, construct houses, and vow to only sell to other homeschoolers!!! The public schools have gone to hell, land is cheap, and the "Christian homeschooling" movement is buying out the town. I kid you not. Totally what Lewis is talking about and worse.

    So I really believe the differences are regional. Shadowspring and Taunya, two of my favorite bloggers (please don't fight! lol), I believe you are BOTH right in your respective areas, I really do.

    Is The Christian Homeschooling Movement the majority or minority on a national scale? I honestly don't think we can tell yet. While most of even the good Christian homeschooling curricula seems written from that YE point of view (save Sonlight), most people picked and chose what they taught -- that's the beauty of homeschooling. I didn't mind that my son got a YE perspective from Apologia, because I knew he'd get evolution in high school... my job was to make sure he understood it was ONE perspective, and he was allowed to investigate them all and come to his own conclusions. All the families I knew did this in one form or another, even the extremely conservative ones.

    Rather than point fingers or make assumptions based on our own experiences, maybe it would be more unifying to say that we as Christians need to BE EXTREMELY WATCHFUL that the elements of Christian patriarchy do not take over our religion, education, and homes, and go from there. Don't we all agree on that point?

  94. Hopefully-not-invisible-Anonymous said:
    Rather than point fingers or make assumptions based on our own experiences, maybe it would be more unifying to say that we as Christians need to BE EXTREMELY WATCHFUL that the elements of Christian patriarchy do not take over our religion, education, and homes, and go from there. Don't we all agree on that point?

    I agree on that for sure. :)

    Shadowspring, since you addressed me particularly: I am not a true unschooler, though that is how *I* was homeschooled. I consider myself eclectic. We just do what works for us, for each child, at each moment in time. I have unschooler leanings because I was raised that way, and because I firmly believe it's important in the early years not to force things on children. Learning should not be a chore. There is a difference between hard work or challenge and drudgery. :) That said, we borrow from all kinds of thoughts...Emilio, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unit Studies, etc.

    I was a science major (and then a nursing major), and I disagree with what you've said. :) I didn't find it difficult at all to take each piece of information I was given and examine its veracity. Or, when I disagreed with the politics or information of the professor, I had no trouble keeping my mouth shut and checking the appropriate boxes on the test. It is possible to agree to disagree, even on matters of much of it isn't settled, and even that which seemed settled at one time has been later upended. It's not God. It is just the best information we have at any given moment, and that makes it trustworthy, but fallible. And, like you, I don't think that matters of faith and matters of science need to agree. They are at once, mutually exclusive and mutually inclusive. Hopefully what is coming across is that I hold all things as fallible but God, and that includes our understanding of Him.

    I assure you that in MY homeschool, mentions or matters of faith interwoven in our studies come naturally and not forcibly. Just as my personality and my children's personalities, interests, faith, thoughts, logic, needs, desires and experiences come into play all day long in our schooling.

    And the beauty of homeschooling for me, is that I am not bound or locked into any particular curriculum or stream of thought. We will read "The People's History of the United States" right alongside Story of the World. That's just how I was raised, and I see no reason to narrow my own view or my children's view. I'm quite certain I mentioned that.

    I don't know if you read my comments in full, but I did mention that we are and have been involved, over the years, in a variety of groups? All groups have an element of exclusivity; the swimming/gym class we take at the Y is geared toward homeschoolers, which means it happens at a time when most other kids are in school. Other kids can of course take this class, but then they'd be missing school. Nothing wrong with that. A few friends and I are teaming up to do science experiments, ancient history and foreign language. Anyone can come, but if learning Korean and making chicken mummies aren't their forte, then I guess we have excluded them, by your logic. :(

    And, as I said, it is my experience that most all of the homeschoolers I personally know, IF they use religious curriculum, use it with as wary of an eye as they use secular curriculum, and not solely. In fact, I don't know anyone who simply goes by the book. That's just not how we do it, here.

  95. Final...

    Here's the thing. The people Lewis is describing make up 85-90% of the homeschooling movement, there's nothing about that that is regional. I spent many, many hours on that essay and that figure was consistent through all my research. 85-90% is not just a few.

  96. Katy-Anne, you and I have argued on this very question on multiple forums AD INFINITUM and I just don't see the point of getting into it again. We are never going to close the gap here. You say "Every homeschooler does A, B, and C,"; I say "In my personal experience, where I live, only a few did A, B, and C,"; and you say "No, you're wrong."

    How can I be wrong about what I MYSELF experienced??? I don't say YOU didn't actually experience what you purport to. I have no love for fundamentalist culture, why would I lie about what I experienced to defend them? Do you honestly think I am too stupid to notice what is going on around me and, if so, how is contradicting me at every turn going to feed a few extra points on to my IQ?

    There's no good way to measure ANYTHING about homeschooling in the US right now, since reporting mandates vary by state and once you pull your kids out of school it's easy to get around those anyway. That's one of the things anti-homeschoolers decry; that's why they want more oversight. Surely you discovered this in all your research. No matter what numbers you found, they aren't reliable enough for you to KNOW what goes on where I live any more than I can reliably KNOW what goes on where you do.

    Can't we just acknowledge each other's apparently vastly different experiences with homeschooling, give the benefit of the doubt that we may BOTH know what we are talking about, and agree to disagree?

  97. Your experiences, person who doesn't have the guts to use their name, are just a very small part of the equation. Facts and figures over a large segment of the population are far more reliable than your experience which, while I don't doubt, I also think might be clouded judgment as you don't really know what goes on in these people's homes.

  98. See hon? Neither do you.

    Low and classless blow, Katy-Anne, but sadly about on par with what I expected from you.

    Clearly you didn't need to know my name in order to attack me. In any case, it's actually not considered safe to post your real name online, which I'm sure you know since you've also been known to use pseudonyms also, haven't you?

    As you grow up, I hope you eventually learn how harmful it is to lump all people into groups which you then hate or like, attack or support, rather than learning and noticing the nuances that make up the beautiful variety of the human experience. And also how much it can backfire when you ASSume you know everything about everything and everyone.

    I already read your attack in Lewis's next post, and rather than derail that thread with this senseless bickering (CLEARLY a civil conversation with you is not possible) I'll tell you that your smartass answers and attitude are probably having the opposite effect on people you wish would stop homeschooling. It ain't a great advertisement for the alternative. Just sayin'.

    Feel free to have the last word (I know you will), I'm done.

  99. I just ask that, beyond this, it go to email. Thanks guys.

  100. "There is no way that there is no religion in public school. Teachers and students included inherently bring it in every day because you cannot totally hide what you believe of life and the world around you."

    Yes, people in the public schools have various religious - or non-religious - beliefs. The difference is that the system is designed to stay as neutral as possible, while (when it works right) also allowing individuals free, non-coerced exercise of their own beliefs. Religious instruction, on the other hand, is designed to impart a particular set of religious beliefs, depending on what form of religion is being instructed.

    I'm not saying it's possible to be completely unbiased. But the goals of religious instruction, whether it's through homeschooling or private schooling, are manifestly opposite those of public instruction. That's not to say religious instruction is necessarily a bad thing. But it doesn't really work to say public schooling is just another form of "religious" instruction.

    I used to think this way, too. I believed that public schools were out to indoctrinate my kids in secular humanism and atheism. But when I actually talked to the principals, teachers, etc., I found out that it was simply not the case. Individual teachers are not going to be able to avoid individual biases, of course-- but most of them are trying to -- whereas Christian schooling is not trying to avoid bias, but instead to impart it. And as I said before, that's ok-- as long as we recognize that that's what we're doing.

  101. Mrs.Taft,

    A statement of faith excludes people who do not walk lock-step with you in religion, and it excludes them regardless of the activity. A person choosing not to learn Korean is not being excluded if the class is open to anyone. A person wanting to learn Korean but being told they couldn't because it was for support group members only, and the statement of faith excluded the possibility of their joining, is being excluded. Do you see my point?

    To all:

    I thought it was polite to quote and cite points one wanted to discuss further. In this comment thread, it appears people take personal offense at being written to as if involved in a conversation. I want everyone to know that no one is being picked on, not by me. I was attempting to have a conversation, one in which I disagreed with some points and wanted to discuss them further.

    To Final:

    You are as dear to me as ever, and there is no cowardice in using a psuedonym. Don't let anyone ruffle your feathers over that. =)

    To the home schooling Christians who don't see the crazies:

    As to your differing experiences, I explain it this way to myself. We all see what we expect to see.

    I started home schooling for all the humanist reasons- individualized content, self-paced learning, freedom of innovation, expanded opportunity, and because I wanted to enjoy my children's company and share my love of learning with them. So that is what I tended to "see" when I met with other home schoolers.

    Looking back at support group photos from my early days, I am kind of shocked at all the ATI and ATI sympathizer families there really were. I thought of our group as open-minded, only needing that statement of faith so that we could have the freedom to talk about religion without worry of offending people. I bought that line of reasoning because a) I never thought about the loneliness of being the excluded home schooler and b) I was so immersed in the Focus on the Family/Christian books/music/movies/everything business empire that I didn't even realize WHAT THE HECK IT ALL MEANT.

    Like Kristen above, I believed everything I read about secular humanism and atheism and the gay agenda. Nor did I ever bother to find out by personal experience or conversation with anyone outside that paradigm if any of what I was reading was true. My life consisted of fundamentalist church, radio, books, DVDs and the home school support group.

    It wasn't until I realized that my daughter wasn't fitting in to the ideal, and we started being excluded, that I realized that those statements of faith were MEANT TO EXCLUDE. If the statement of faith didn't keep out all the undesirables (my daughter is Aspie), other rules could always be added. And they were, all the way down to "no unnatural hair color" to exclude the boys with colored gel on their spikes (my son =).

    Once I got away, after some time solo, we joined a secular home school group. I found an accepting group with so many different interests,opinions and lifestyles. It was a great learning experience.

    Meanwhile my original group stayed who they always were: Pearl recommending, Vision Forum acolytes. Their ridiculous ideas, that once only seemed merely a bit to the right for me, now seemed abusive. Like the wedding cake that the boys got to paw while the girls left the room, and when the girls returned, they were told THAT (point to ruined mess that was formerly a wedding cake) was the kind of heart they were presenting to their husband on the wedding day if they didn't guard their affections and not "give pieces of their heart away" in dating relationships.

    See, I just thought that was a bit over the top, slightly weird. Now I find it extremely offensive because I understand how warped that lesson was to both boy and girl.

    I think that may explain the phenomenon of all of us looking at the same community and seeing different things. My opinion, for what it's worth. =)

  102. wow, shadowspring, that wedding cake incident is just so, so, so sick & twisted & did I say sick? Stuff like that makes me understand why Lewis uses such strong posts to try to "shake" up those on the edges who could easily get lulled into accepting stuff like this. Yuck. :(

  103. Or, the community you were part of is different than the community I'm part of, and it's possible that there aren't fundie devils in every corner, or at the VERY least, it's possible that there exist different kinds of people and, thus, different kinds of groups in this world than one pigeonholed version based on your experiences. I do not mean that to be rude, I'm just a little annoyed at the moment that no one seems to believe that it's possible, and the only explanation is that *I'm* willfully or blissfully ignorant about what you know to be "true". It's possible that I'm not blind, and I find it rude of you to assume that the only reason I can't validate your experience in the group I was talking about is because I'm simply too blind or dumb to see it with my idealistic rose-colored glasses.

    I DO see your point. I understand your point. As I said, I belong to several groups. In one group, that statement of faith IS exclusive. In one, it's not. Anyone can join, and we have people across the spectrum. In fact, neither the teachers nor the students need to sign it to belong. I also belong to a secular group, and I don't find any difference between the secular group and the one welcoming Christian group I'm part of. As I said above, the secular group is actually part of the public school system, and it ranges from Muslims to Atheists and everything in between.

  104. This post is not addressing non-exclusive home schooling. It is not addressing you personally. It is addressing the Christian home schooling movement , as was clearly defined in the OP and then further refined during the discussions.

    It was never about you personally, or about inclusive home schooling groups, or even about home schooling families who just happen to be Christians. It is about the movement , its stated goals, history and current domination of the home schooling conventions/curriculum providers.

    I don't know how it can be any more plain than has already been explained. If you think your exclusive Christian home school group is not promoting a separatists, dominionist, QF ideology- if there is no talk of raising an army of future leaders to take over the culture for Christ- then why the need for exclusion of non-believers?

    And why take any of this personal if none of it applies to you?

  105. None of those ideologies are present in the group. It was started by a couple of ladies who were friends, homeschooling, and happened to be Christians. None of the founding families have anything to do with any of those movements, and it's a local group that wasn't started or planted by any national movement. They just wanted to have a space to do things together that are hard to do alone as homeschoolers, and since they all happened to be Christian (I'm talking the original members here, most of whom are still present), it just made sense to them to set it up that way. We do a loosely organized 'chapel', in which we sing a couple of worship songs together and have announcements and a devotion. No one HAS to do this. Worship and devotions come from the families themselves on a whoever-wants-to basis. There's little organization, it's just something that we all normally do anyways--worship the Lord and encourage each other, but together. Classes may also present things, and it doesn't have to be God-centered. Some of the classes have a 'bent' or a curriculum that incorporates Christianity. Many of them have nothing to do with religion whatsoever. That is basically the extent of it.

    I only took personal what was, from your comments labeled "Mrs. Taft", seemingly directed at me.

    And I expressed confusion over the rather confusing title given to the movement, as it seems far too broad.

    At this point, I feel like I've made myself as clear as I can. You can think however you like about it.

  106. Oh, sorry, I see I didn't answer your question. Why exclude non-believers?

    We don't. Which I already stated. The statement of faith isn't for that purpose. We do have a family that is not Christian, and we have many teachers who are not.

  107. If the term "Christian homeschooling movement" is too broad, remember that Lewis did not invent it. This is what the movement calls itself-- Christian homeschooling-- as if there were no other way for Christians to homeschool. Don't blame Lewis for that. Blame the movement.

  108. I'm starting to believe that all human organizations have the seeds of cultism in them. So to say something is or isn't a cult ...well, I no longer believe it's that simple in most cases.

    Case in point: public school teaching of things like evolution and carbon dating. In my agnostic days, I had no fear of science. I just couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that teachers and textbook authors "knew" this stuff happened over millions of years, when they weren't even there. I thought about it, and thought about it. Finally, I decided I had thought about it long enough, and if I wanted to get a good grade I would just take their word for it, and put what they told me was the right answer. Now, I'm not denying the possibility that these *are* the right answers ...I just can't believe that the way some people interact with their scientific beliefs, and seek to perpetuate them, isn't cultic to some degree. It doesn't have to rise to the level of scientism to be cultic -- it just has to present itself as mandatory, without room (due to pressure *or* neglect) to question it.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is that separating education and religious faith is not necessarily going to solve the problems of indoctrination, cultism and the spirit of anti-Christ, because that doesn't guarantee room to think. Critical thinking must be pursued deliberately, and what you/they call the "Christian homeschool movement" is far from the only group that fails to do this. At least in the American South, the entire culture seems pro-education and anti-intellectual at the same time.

    Promoting critical thinking -- and the understanding that it involves more than being countercultural -- may help, but maybe I'm just being overly optimistic about one of my personal pet subjects. I was spoon-fed throughout my entire public school career. When I took "Critical Thinking" as a college course, it was completely new to me, and I was so woefully underprepared that it didn't quite take at first. I can't help but attribute some of the problem to my own gullibility ...but I also can't help but wonder how life could have been different. *Why* do they not teach logic and critical thinking in public high schools?!?

    Anyway, I believe the best way to avoid cultism is to seek God above all else, including *all* of our most respected leaders' teachings, all our pet ideas, doctrines and dreams, everything we know and think we know. And even then, sometimes we will fail. As long as we believe anything about God that isn't true, then to some extent we are all culties, walking around risking indoctrination, and indoctrinating each other. No matter how cool our group is, no matter how hip and enlightened we tell ourselves we are, no matter how wise and orthodox our leaders tell us we are.

    But we don't have to despair -- God is bigger, stronger, and truer than all of that :)

  109. Scientists actually demand a high level of proof- the experiment proving hypothesis must be able to be replicated, repeatedly, by other scientists and getting the same result- before they accept an idea. With religious doctrine, there is no way to test a hypothesis, much less replicate it. Gideon was the only one who even tried! n_n

    And his experiments were not replicable, so no scientific advances came of them.

    And the best way to learn logic, is to take higher level math and science! Plus I did not share your experience, of never learning critical thinking until college. I went to a public high school in the 70s and we were taught literary criticism and other forms of critical analysis in sociology and history class as well.

    I personally find that the only truly good use for much Christian curriculum, is in teaching critical thinking skills. It's easy to spot the bias all over the pages once you know what to look for! Also Biblical Economic in Comics is the most heinous form of propaganda- with name-calling and wicked caricature so obvious any one could spot it! Vision Forum sells it as part of their high school economics course. The cartoon propoganda calls for theonomy as the only "good" government,and people who work for the current government are all evil bureau-RATS.

    Truly sickening. No, the Christian home schooling movement and science are NOT on the same level, not even close.
    Not. Even. Close.

  110. What puts the Christian homeschooling world over into cultic territory, for me, isn't so much the doctrine but the behavior. Not so much what they teach (even though much of it is bat-crap crazy) but the way it's taught. Lifton's model of Thought Reform applies to the ideal environment the leaders of the movement would like to foster - which to me is what links the dynamic of the indoctrination of the Christian homeschooling movement with the indoctrination of the People's Temple and other cult groups.

    Milieu control, doctrine over person, mystical manipulation, et cetera.

    Teen Mania's ESOAL program, which recently got some pub on MSNBC, is another good example of using Lifton's method.

  111. Verity3, I quite agree with you. :) I often feel that way when I am reading over two different scientific studies, both peer-reviewed and equally rigorous, that prove the very opposite of each other.

  112. I wasn't trying to put "the Christian homeschooling movement" and science on the same level, though I can see why I may have come across that way. I agree that pressure is a much bigger problem than neglect. I am familiar with Lifton's dynamics and see them in the current patriarchal movement, and am dismayed to see them cropping up in "mainstream" circles. (Though I'm not sure whether this is a change, or my eyes have been opened.) I wholeheartedly agree that we need to raise awareness and work to stop this problem.

    But I think part of the solution is going to have to involve building bridges by emphasizing commonality, which has to include humility and recognizing our own deficiencies. It is in that context that I bring up the public schools' potential to neglect critical thought. I am glad to hear it is not the case everywhere... that gives me hope that raising awareness could help this lesser problem as well.

    I can see how higher math and science can aid in logic and critical thinking... but I can also see how some (like me) need help connecting the dots in applying these skills to the humanities and social sciences. Instead of encouraging only black-and-white thinking for some students, and mishy-mashy thinking for others, I see that all could benefit from using deliberate analysis on one hand, and deliberately holding things in tension on the other.

    Without sufficient critical thought, we are all vulnerable to ruling out valid options too quickly. I believe that is why high-control religious groups thrive... they don't trust God's ability to help people think clearly, so they instill fear and compliance. We need to show them that real critical thinking is more conducive to true faith than human authoritarian methods of Thought "Reform"!

    Well, thanks for listening to me ramble. I think what I'm doing is convincing myself that I need to write a high school curriculum for Logic and Critical Thinking (but with a warmer-fuzzier title, maybe). I've been hinting around for years that someone should do it, but maybe I'm the one who's supposed to do it. Not that I have any idea how to go about it. Hmmm... *wanders off to ponder*

  113. There are sections at the end of every chapter titled Critical Thinking Skills in every single one of my public school high school textbooks!

    Every one! Prentiss Hall World Geography, Holt Rinehart Wilson World History, British and World Literature, and American Literature are all within reach. Every single chapter has Critical Thinking questions throughout the chapters and at the end of each chapter.

    You will not be filling an unmet need by writing your own curriculum! Far from it!

    Your arrogance, both you and Mrs. Taft, is astounding. I wonder, did I sound like that when I started home schooling fourteen years ago? Oh my, I am afraid I did.

    I remember writing a letter to the editor about how our home school's organic flow compared to the public school's preplanned semester. Sure, the public school had all the necessary ingredients, like PopTarts and cold cereal have all the vitamins and minerals kids need.

    But our breakfasts were yogurt with homemade granola, berries and cream, eggs and ham, and only occasionally cold cereal and PopTarts. I compared this to my home created unit studies supplemented with canned curriculum.

    Gag myself! I am so embarrassed, now that I see in others the hubris in others that I once displayed. Aaaargh.

  114. Well, yeah, I've only started clearing the cobwebs away from my own mind in the last few years, and yet I'm trying to think up ways to help others begin the process, before I am completely cured myself. (Please understand I am being earnest; tone doesn't come across very well in text sometimes.) I can go crawl back in my hole and cry about it, or I can keep going.

    I'm *glad* to hear that there are textbooks like that now, shadowspring. May I ask the copyright dates of those books? I have no degree in Education, and my own education was... awhile ago, so it's possible that I just don't remember Critical Thinking elements that were there. But it's also possible that my CT class was a new development at the time, and CT elements have been making inroads into secondary textbooks since then. If so, I am glad to be made aware of it.

    It is also entirely possible that CT elements are there, have been there for awhile, and yet are not being made good use of in all cases, is it not? All the more reason to sit down people like me (whose naivite combined with eagerness to help can apparently become, or come across as, hubris at times) and point out, "Okay. In case you have missed the signs all over the place that we are trying to teach you to think critically, here is an entire class devoted to the topic. No, it is not an afterthought. CT is going to be the meat of this course." Probably some students will roll their eyes, and yet other students will find the direct approach more helpful than condescending.

    It's painful sometimes to admit you need to get your head out of the sand, but accomplishing it feels *wonderful*.

    I am trying to brainstorm ways that we can help intelligent people (although perhaps with somewhat narrow vision) figure out *when* they need to connect more dots, so they can help keep *themselves* from drifting into cults, so we don't have to help as many people pick up as many broken pieces (assuming they want help and are able to receive it at that point) after the fact.

    Shadowspring, please consider giving me and my half-formed ideas a chance. I always enjoy reading your comments, here and elsewhere. I think my position may be closer to yours than you realize, no matter how sucky I may be at getting it across. Thanks for the feedback.

  115. Tsk, tsk. You don't know me, and I don't appreciate the character assassination. Tone isn't always conveyed well over text, it's true, but you also seem to be projecting. I'm protesting being lumped in, in YOUR mind, with what YOU have experienced. How does this make me arrogant? So ridiculous. You feel embarrassed by trying to do the best for your children, or the way you went about proclaiming it, who says I am doing the same? Again, please stop "finding" faults in me. I have enough faults without someone else's chip-on-the-shoulder being tossed at me. Please don't mistake confidence for arrogance, certainly, at the very least.

    I agree that many textbooks have great critical thinking in them, but that doesn't mean that everyone's experience is the same as yours when it comes to applying them. Amazing. I'm arrogant because my experience is different than yours and I'm happy with the way things are going for me? Okay then. Are you seriously incapable of interpreting things beyond your own experience? There are all kinds of people in the world, and many of them are not exactly like you. Verity has had a different public school experience than you did, which did not include critical thinking. Lewis has given many MANY examples of schooling that doesn't include it. So why do you insist it's not a need? Your argument, so far, seems to be that it's not a need because YOU didn't need it, I assume at least over 20 years ago. How logical is that, really?

    I'm sure you'll have plenty to say, but at this point I wash my hands of it. Closed minds are useless to argue with.

  116. Copyrights? Sure. World Geography 2000
    World History 2005
    Elements of Literature (Literature of the United States) 2005 (British and World History) 2006.

    More later. I have a test in the morning.

    Peace and good will, SS

  117. Mrs. Taft wrote "So why do you insist it's not a need? Your argument, so far, seems to be that it's not a need because YOU didn't need it, I assume at least over 20 years ago. How logical is that, really?"

    No ma'am, those are textbooks I used with my children. I graduated much earlier than 2000! =) I am saying it is not a need, because these textbooks are in existence NOW, readily available to anyone who takes off the Christian home schooling blinders off and buys a textbook from a reputable publisher.

  118. I didn't hear arrogance in what Verity3 or Mrs. Taft said-- only a lack of information about certain resources that Shadowspring is aware of. It may not occur to homeschoolers in general that public school textbooks are a good resource. That may be a blind spot, but it's not necessarily arrogance.

    I have always public-schooled my children, so I don't have a horse in this race. Just thought I'd give an outsider's viewpoint.

  119. I public-school my child too. I would love to see a CT course/curriculum in public high schools, private ones, and homeschool catalogs, as a widespread trend. If such does not exist by the time my daughter reaches high-school age, I plan to sit her down with my college textbook.

    The dates of the texts you mention are well after the year I took the CT course. I am glad, because it suggests a trend. My point remains that a standalone course would offer special benefits in addition to the ones already available from chapter sections in textbooks on other subjects.

    More is not always better; but in this case, I believe a chance to focus would help some students.

  120. Hmm, I posted a link that seems to have disappeared, Verity3. You can start teaching Ct to your kids now! This vendor has been in business for more than 50 years! Award-winning programs, starting with kindergarten.

  121. Thanks for the link! This is what I've been looking for :)

    The materials for younger kids look great. They are doing some of these exercises in her school now, but I'm interested in resources to supplement her classes.

    And looking ahead for when she's older, this particular book seems to be EXACTLY what I wanted:

    Not only does it teach how to process claims logically, but it also looks like it encourages kids to question the underlying claims. (Which is where I think a lot of us can get tripped up in life.) And in a way that is accessible to kids as young as seventh grade. I cannot tell you how excited I am. Thanks again!

    (Now, to take it to the masses... bwahaha!)

  122. i'm here a LOT late, for several good reasons [bcuz sometimes life just sucks]. also, things to say and ask.

    first: Katy - that was an awesome paper. well researched. my question is, *IF* i do end up writing an article, may i cite your paper? it would be several months from now, and beyond the fact that it's awesome, it was written by a college student [and OSU has been trying to incorporate more student papers, making a push for papers like yours to be read by more than just a review committee, you know?]

    moving on: you mentioned in the paper the long-standing argument by certain factions that the US is "A Christian Country, created by Christian people using Christian ideals". [paraphrased, obviously]. beyond the well-known-but-ignored fact that many of the "Founders" were Deists [they believed in God. that was AS FAR as they were going to say] i have to [again] offer: The Treaty Of Tripoli; Article 12: "Being as the United States is not a Christian nation..." they made a treaty with "Musslemen" [Muslims] and were ABLE to make said treaty because the US was not, and never HAD been, "A Christian Nation" in the sense that those certain factions insist it was/is. yes, the early white settlers were predominantly Christian - of almost every conceivable stripe and crede. not to mention my own people, those forced to attend "Christian Schools" to cure us of our heathen ways while they practiced Genocide...
    this has long been a country of which the majority is Christian, but that is *not the same things*. those same certain factions don't want a democracy [which we don't have] nor even a republic [which we almost still have], they want a Theocracy and will stop at nothing less.

    and then i'll the rest of my natural life in jail while they debate which crime to kill me for first, as the crime mandates the form of punishment. should i be burnt at the stake for being a heathen/pagan? [i'm no heretic, since i was never and am still not Christian in the sense that many Christians accept. i'm a univeralist/monist. anyway] stoned for being divorced and not acting like a widow for the rest of my life? buired alive because i don't have the same set of morals, and to me consenual sex [between people CAPABLE OF CONSENT] CANNOT be sinful? lynched and then hung because i'm engaged to my boyfriend of 7 1/2 years and he happens to be black? [but wait... i'm not white, either...] i don't even KNOW what punishment they'd have for the abortion that i had to have [it was "have this abortion or be dead within 24 hours. probably 12. how did you not know that porphyria will kill you if you attempt pregnancy?"], nor do i want to know the punishment for playing Dungeons and Dragons from the age of 6.

    i *DO* whole-heartedly agree with Lewis in almost every way [i'm sure there's SOMEplace where we don't agree] these people, who have taken over most of the MACHINERY, if you will, of homeschooling, who HAVE taken over the Republican party, are a bigger threat to the United States than "Muslim Terrorists" [when it's Muslims being Fundamentalists, they're "terrorists". when it's Christians or Jews being Fundamentalist, they're "the far fringe".], bigger than Soviet Russia ever hoped to be, bigger than Hitler and Germany, bigger than the Spanish Empire or the entire British Empire.

    Theocracy. under THEIR rules, which ignore all too much of what CHRIST taught. love and tolerance and turn the other cheek... forgiveness for all, and NO ONE knows who is Saved and who is Not until the Day comes - these guys believe NONE of that. they ARE NOT CHRISTIAN, but damn do they do a good job of making Christians look bad.

  123. I personally dislike the implication that someone who doesn't worship Jesus is being illogical. >.>

    This article's point is important though. The difference between a cult and a belief system is the organization and indoctrination, not how "weird" it seems or how "incorrect" its teachings are.

  124. Thank you for pointing me to this post. You are making a lot of assumptions here. You are assuming just because there is a cultic movement within the homeschooling movement that all homeschoolers are like what you've seen in that movement.

    It simply isn't true. Besides Christian homeschoolers who offer their kids an opportunity to think, there are homeschoolers who are not Christians at all.

    You have so much valuable information on this blog. I wish it didn't include such blanket thinking. I agree with you on many of the things you write about--but I feel you are stereotyping and that you haven't had opportunity to view the whole of what homeschooling has to offer. My stomach hurts as you expose the patriarchal movement. It hurts as see the damage it has done to a lot of people. But that doesn't immediately assume all Christian homeschoolers are as you describe. You said: Children within this world MUST accept the conclusions of the paradigm and curriculum - or be expendable, facing brutal emotional leveraging, ostracization, and emotional abuse.

    This is simply not true of ALL homeschoolers. And it is also true of many "Christian" people who don't homeschool.

    You are a smart man. Slow down. Think things through a little more carefully, Lewis. Don't brutalize everyone because of some.

  125. Sorry, I misquoted you here: Christian homeschooling doesn't allow the freedom to make such choices. Children within this world MUST accept the conclusions of the paradigm and curriculum - or be expendable, facing brutal emotional leveraging, ostracization, and emotional abuse.

    I agree with this statement, but it seems to me you are saying that you think all homeschoolers trest their children as expendable, apply brutal emotional leveraging, ostracization and emotional abuse. THAT is what I am saying is simply not true.

  126. Maybe part of what you don't understand is that not all Christian homeschoolers use curriculum that would punish a child by giving a bad grade if he didn't buy into a faith-based portion of the curriculum.

    One of my goals as a homeschooler is to raise thoughtful kids who are good thinkers, not kids who parrot a culture.

  127. Don't read things into the post that aren't there, Paula.

    If you're a Christian who just happens to also homeschool your children, and you're not connected to the things I've described in this and other posts, then this post isn't about you.

    I'm not just randomly or wildly shooting from the hip here. If you aren't connected to the things I've written about regarding the Christian homeschooling movement, you haven't been brutalized, so be sure you aren't jumping to emotional conclusions. I don't do disclaimers, but there's more than enough qualifiers within what I'm writing that no person who reads here should be left with much in the way of gray area as to exactly who and what I write about.

    Neither the approach or terminology of what I write here will change until there's legitimate reason to do so. Right now, there's NO reason to do so. What I've written fits the situation.

  128. Claire in Tasmania said...

    Wait a minute Katy-Ann.
    "85% - 90% of homeschoolers are fundamentalist or evangelical Christians. (Gaither 2009, p. 341)"

    "...The people Lewis is describing make up 85-90% of the homeschooling movement..."

    I know, because I am one, that there are many people who would call themselves 'evangelical' without having any idea that people like yourself would assume that meant we were patriarchal. So did Gaither get his info by a survey that asked questions that overlapped substantially with Lewis' definition of CH movement members and use that as his definition of 'fundamentalist or evangelical'? Or, as I think is far more likely, did he (or someone) ask homeschoolers what they call *themselves*?
    Because it seems to me you are doing *exactly* what Lewis says he isn't doing. I am a member of a Christian mothers' forum. These mamas (and there are a lot of them) are anti-Gothard, anti-VF, anti-Pearl, anti-patriocentic, non-punitive, and mostly egalitarian - and most of them would call themselves evangelical and some of them homeschool - that is my only real connection with American homeschoolers of any stripe :)). It appears you are lumping them in with the cultists.
    What I'm trying to say is, 85% of that 85% could easily be 'mainstream evangelical' with little if any of the baggage. I'm going to bed :)

  129. Lewis,
    Many homeschoolers like what you write and need to hear your message. I think calling Patriarchy a cult is a lot more accurate than calling Christian homeschooling a cult. I live in me families like you describe are 1 in 20 or less around here....and we know dozens of homeschooling families....homeschooling has gone way more mainstream then it was even when your former fiance was being reared.

    I am the mom of 8 children, with one grown, and I found your site because my oldest son went through something very similar to what you did....I think peope like me probably make up most of our audience.

    We love God, love our kids, and have no desire to control them....but our faith is the biggest thng in our life....and our faith is LOVE as defined by Jesus Christ.

    We wear jeans, drink wine, cuss occasionally, have lots of fun together, and especially enjoying mocking ourselves and other homeschoolers. ATI and VF stick out like sore thumbs at our state convention...

    But we would self identify as Christian just think about it because we are sharing your blog with tons of homeschoolers...

    Thanks for sharing your warning story with us....we have lived it too

  130. I went to public schools and a public college. When we had our daughter, we lived in a marginal urban neighborhood and I was working. We sent her to a Montessori School because I had read about Maria Montessori's methods and materials. She met many interesting children there. When they left that private school environment, they all went in different directions. Our daughter went to public school. One of her friends went to a secular exclusive private school, and another went to Catholic school. Guess which one ended up begging on the streets with her addict boyfriend? If you have real faith, dear friends, you will trust the intelligence and strength of your children. You will listen to them and lead by example. You will help them learn from the mistakes all of us make. You will spend time with them, showing them how much you enjoy and appreciate life. You will love and respect your partner, modeling a mature human relationship. You will be tolerant. You will be forgiving. You will be kind.

  131. Hey, Lewis...

    I just stumbled upon your blog today and I've been reading it off and on all day. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your points of view, both as a Christian and a free-thinking, intelligent human being. Your posts are thought provoking and eloquently written. It's refreshing, to say the least!

    My husband is an atheist (holidays are FUN around here, lol!) and he, too, is impressed with your writing here. Thank you so much for what you do and say here and keep fighting the good fight, man. You gained two big fans down in Atlanta today. You rock.

    -Christi H.

  132. Good discussion everybody. I know from experience why this can be such a heated debate since this is a topic that we discuss as a family on a fairly regular basis. We homeschooled our children all the way through and were involved with a Christian homeschooling group that was initmately part of the Dominion/Reconstructionist/Patriarchal Family movement. I must contend that it was an extremely damaging experience for us, and has put our children way behind as far as identifying their own identify with Christ and trusting anyone in that previous community of friends. Fortunately God in his mercy has led us to a much healthier and truely Christian group of homeschoolers from other homeschooling groups within the community. Although I know that not all families that gravitate to these groups fall into the catagory of cult followers, there is a lot to be said about the "lemming" tendancy of many families following seemingly genuine charasmatic leaders. We must all put on the lens of discernment when following any eartlhy instituition that expouses extra-biblical doctrine... such as unless you homeschool in this exact fashion you may not even be a Christian. Those leaders that are preaching this message will be held to a much higher standard on judgement day, but that doesn't excuse us of balancing all things against scripture and using our God given minds and conviction of the Spirit to discern genuine truth.

  133. In the 90's in my high school Biology class a discussion was had about the Earth being created in 6 days and the scientific findings that "proved" it took longer than 6 days. Someone said "Yes, the Bible says God did create the Earth in 6 days, but where does it say the day was measured in a 24 hour day?" The Bible does say God has His own time line. I cannot remember the exact chapter and verse, but it says something to the effect that our years pass by as a blink of His eye. Over the years I have shared that little golden nugget with several people over the years who were having a very hard time trying to understand their spiritual beliefs with what they were taught in school. The last person I shared that with was just out of high school and after he thought about it for just a few minutes, he smiled and said he was thinking he had to pick either the Bible or Science and now he was glad he did not have to choose....he could believe in BOTH!

  134. Wow! I could write a book, but I won't because certain family members might guess who I am. I am a secular teacher with young relatives who are being homeschooled. Part of the curriculum is OK, but I believe that some of evolution is correct and should be taught. None of the young earth creationism ___ Stuff. I do not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and I have no idea what you mean by "rejecting Christianity." I feel right with God and Christ. If I go to a bad place when I die, God will decide, not the "Christian." If you believe in Christ, regardless, you are Christian. You do not have to spout Bible verses, go through total immersion like John the Baptist, or even pray before meals at restaurants. And please knock off these stupid little Bible verses hanging all over the refrigerator like everyone needs to know your specific belief when they walk into the house. Christ may have said to publically acknowledge him, and not to reject him -- but he sure did not say how to acknowledge publically. Public worship is public. I do not need the badge of home school Christian Cult Mom so that the rest of the world knows what I believe. Meanwhile -- the kids get half-assed educated and that is if the Mom is educated enough herself and disciplined enough to do a decent job. Most I have seen and I have seen a few, since I have tutored homeschoolers on the side for many years, are not educated enough to do a professional job. Eventually their tight-knit little socially engineered bubble bursts and if the kids are not socially and intellectually ruined -- some are, some are not -- they soon learn what they have missed, both the good and the bad. Can they handle the bad? Depends on how brainwashed they are. I have seen some great homeschooled kids, but they did not have right-wing ultra conservative Christian basket cases for parents. There was moderation of religion and ideas and openness to intellectual curiosity.

  135. It is frustrating to find articles like this online, and know how many people believe it word for word. I was raised IFB, home schooled, and now educate my own children at home. In the IFB you will find strict standards that came as an overreaction to the free love era. You will find people who DO fit your description. However, it is not everyone, much less every generic Christian home educating family. In addition, the IFB is changing from the inside.

    For instance, so many of my generation (30's and younger) are breaking free of the legalism we were taught. We could not find it in Scripture, and so it is being rejected. Families are casting off legalism and 'holier than thou' attitudes in favor of our genuine selves as-is. It is like waking up, in a way. We see the problems, and the way it does not align with Christ of scripture. We do not overlord over our children or cow to our husbands as the only valid perspective in the home. This 'at home cult' of which you speak does not exist (from my own experience being and knowing hundreds of home school families) in the large numbers you would have people to believe. I have met two families that meet that criteria. TWO! The thing is, one became that horrifyingly strict in old age (so no children are affected). The other recognized how badly it was failing them and have turned from it as well. Oddly enough, God has grace for Christians too! ;)

    I am third or fourth generation IFB, and I did not even begin home schooling for religious reasons. Far from it, actually. My siblings and I do not hold the same beliefs as my parents, yet we are not ostracized. We wear pants *gasp!*, dye hair *gasp!*, go to movies *gasp*... the list is endless. We are normal people! We care about God, we attend church when we can, and we answer our children's questions about any and every topic under the sun by finding them resources and materials that give factual answers. I don't answer questions about sex or science by opening the Bible. I answer them with facts, and with candor. I encourage my children not to accept 'truth' from the mouth of a person, but to look it up. I use secular materials as well as Christian materials. Those Christian materials weren't chosen because they are 'Christian'. I could care less that English sentences are written about missionaries. I care that they be diagrammed correctly.

    My church is IFB, my upbringing is IFB, and yet I am not as Baptist as all of that. My pastor is a man who encourages his flock in so many ways. He is a man who himself has directed me to see the grace God bestows on his children. He encourages me not to get hung up on man, but look above. I say it again; the church is changing! We are changing!

    It is insulting and frustrating that a generation who sees problems with those of the past are brave enough to speak against them, but too short sighted to realize that other people have spotted the same problems. "Christian home educators are"... NOTHING. There is no single adjective you can place in the sentence to apply to everyone. It is not even family by family, because we are *gasp!* raising individuals. Call out the persons who are perpetrating the ignorance you protest, by all means. Just do not call all of us the same thing. This world hates religion. It loathes Christianity. There is a new generation at the mast. Our children will continue to be even more free and full of grace. Give us a chance.

    1. If this article isn't about you, it shouldn't upset you.

      I see some cultural paranoia in your last paragraph.

  136. From my perspective religion of any kind, any flavor, and any type should be a very personal thing. As far as I am concerned it is not a parents business what their child believes. What I find terrifying is that rather than presenting data and facts any group feels the need to color their curriculum with religious overtones. By starting at the earliest age and presenting the world through the lens of YOUR personal religion you are indoctrinating your children, regardless of your intention.

    Education should prepare a child to be an independent, functional adult. When you teach them about the world through the filter of what is accepted based on your flavor of religion, you then leave them less prepared to face the world. If you truly believe in your religion, then present all other forms of beliefs with strength and courage in as unbiased a way as possible. Better yet, take your children to other temples, ask questions, let them ask questions. If you don't know an answer, find out, or travel that road of discovery with them, THAT is teaching. To allow for, nay encourage critical thinking and give your kids the tools to discover answers for themselves.

    One other thing, religion is not meant to give answers. It has no facts. It isn't meant to. Religion, ANY religion is a group of stories and ideas that try to make sense out of a scary world. Death is scary, so give people comfort that they will not just end, other people are scary, so give a deity that will cast down judgement on the wrong doers, other cultures are scary, so make sure your people are special.

    I have made it my task to understand as much as possible other belief systems, I visit churches and ask questions of the priests, pastors, etc. I grew up learning about and being part of several different faiths. The conclusion I have come to is that whatever you believe is right, if only to you. It is sad so many feel they must remove other people's right answer and try to force their on in its place.

  137. Some home schooling is OK considering that not all home school parents are religiously motivated. Some feel (often they are professional-level parents or college professors themselves) that public schools are inadequate and are dumbing down curriculum in favor of politically correct nonsense or trendy pedagogical methods. I went to college with a brilliant young man who was home schooled. But, then I have also met some evangelical types who want to overly control their kids. One in particular is related to me and I truly think that she feels she is properly raising her four children. But as they gradually get older -- now the two oldest are in High school, they are getting away from her and forming their own opinions. You cannot keep a child from thinking and then appropriately rebelling. It is part of growing up.