Mind Your Head About Home Education and Religion

20 02 2008

“This is a difficult issue,” he said. “It deals with the intersection of the two things most important to most people — their faith and their children’s education.”

Here’s the thing — home education and religion are two things, not the same thing. Two things that, however intimately connected you choose to make them in your own private family life, nevertheless are not the SAME thing and shouldn’t be, at least not in law, politics and public policy debate.

Both liberals and conservatives have their own fatal flaws, as authority figures nobly legislating away our individual liberties for our own good. But religious belief in the infallibility of one’s own cause adds a scorched-earth dispensation to any political cause, one that quickly becomes more of a threat itself than whatever good it believes itself divinely chosen to create or impose. No end can justify means so mean.

This is particularly true in education thought and belief (or so I think and believe!)

A la Philip Zimbardo, I want all political creatures to get far enough outside their political “situations” to see this objectively and compassionately as thinkers, rather than from the emotionally fraught power-struggle roles they play within the situation. That is the tremendous value of unschooling for example — after several years of having NO role in schooling whatsoever, it is astounding what you finally begin to see and understand about all the role players within education politics.

Maybe I should just quote Marvin Minsky in Wired:
“I once peeled a label off a London bus.

Home education was thrown out as a creationist threat to the body politic yesterday, as Florida officially adopted new science standards for public education. Plus, the sitting board member representing creationist religious beliefs (not modern science education) actually suggested that if the vote went against her legions of believers, her fellow board members would need to enter the witness protection program! I am not making this stuff up, folks; if you are a homeschooling family no matter what you believe about science OR religion in politics, it’s high time to mind your head — time for your reason to think about your beliefs, try to get both on the same side at the same time, and then figure out what to teach your kids about it all, so their freedom to do both can endure.

Yesterday wasn’t the first time, just the most recent. Last spring for the government-celebrated National Day of Prayer, local homeschoolers got so caught up in their beliefs that they clearly weren’t minding their heads. I reasoned they’d plumb lost their heads AND their minds.

I wrote our local homeschooler discussion list to advise the mostly-Christian parents in deadly earnest that “the reluctance that has kept many of us quietly deferential to religions we did not share and believed to be of no threat to our own families, is about as dead as the dodo. Believe it or not, we all will have to learn to reckon with that new reality in our own ways.”

I got back (chilling) confirmation of my worst fears, an irrational response from the Prayer Day organizer, about how the civic concerns of an independent homeschooler like me are of zero concern to them as conservative Christian homeschoolers; this has nothing to do with education, you guys, much less HOME education. It is militant iron-fisted dominionism married to the gentle velvet glove of what most of us were taught to believe is non-secular Christian love and peace.

“homeschoolers…you chose (sic) what you want to do this Thursday, May 3…. we will be asking God to protect our youth, our military, give guidance to our state and national leaders and to heal our lead. (sic)

And yes, the name of J-E-S-U-S will be used, it is not a dirty name…although in our politically correct society we certainly get upset over prayer, God, Jesus and government being uttered in the same breath.

You better stay home then on Thursday because all those politically incorrect words will be uttered.”

So here’s the appeal to Reason that such Unreason prompts, made not within the home education community but to liberal public school supporters, hardly friends of “our” home education freedom in the past.

Mind your head!

*Please* stand WITH evolved homeschoolers rather than against us, as we stand against this insidious threat to our whole secular nation. There are more of you than of us, by far, and we can’t fight you too.

One easy way you can help is to look directly at the prayer and politics and punishment in a family, if you want or need to know how dangerous they are to our civil liberties and national defense. Never again assume that the particular education method preferred for their children can tell you if they are “on your side”, as some sort of handy litmus test.

This has nothing to do with home education; we’re just here on the front line. Not unlike the Islamic terrorists (yes, I meant to compare them) the prayers of [these] religious homeschoolers are for power and winning, the unholy power of the trinity — God, Government and Guns — and the winning of their own tribes. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be . . .I am now a Believer, that this is in fact warfare, for dominion over the earth and all its creatures.



28 responses

20 02 2008

Cock of the snook to Lynn at Bore me to tears for this, via the Friendly Atheist:
Arguments for God that won’t convince reasoning atheists

There is also a list of “atheist” arguments that won’t work on Christians.

The idea apparently, is to save us all a lot of time and grief! 😉

20 02 2008

And if the kind of differences you care about bridging are educational beliefs and advocacy, not religious, then for heaven’s sake (pun intended) go to the Ravitch/Meier “Bridging Differences” blog for your research, reasoning and rhetoric!

20 02 2008
Paul Maurice Martin

A bit of trouble following this. Sounds like you’re quoting people with rather extreme/unusual opinions?

20 02 2008

Extreme, yes. Unusual, well, I once thought so.
You’re right that it is part of a continuing culture clash within the home education community, not just one coherent essay with everything in it. Reading the embedded links would help it make more sense for new eyes, but in a nutshell, home education as a legal alternative to sending children to school has become intentionally entangled with (some of us would say has been hijacked outright by) unusually conservative and anti-science, anti-reason Christian politics.

I see your blog promotes “thoughtful discussion on religious and spiritual matters — where respect for all viewpoints on religion is a spiritual passion.” How would you translate that to respect for my viewpoint, that religion is being used as a dodge to screw up education? 🙂

20 02 2008

God, I hope so!

I hope that most Christians do understand that evolution is the reality-based foundation of biology and should be taught as such in our public schools. And at home, for that matter.

I hope that most Christians do understand the importance of separation of church and state — for them and for the rest of us.

I hope that critics of hsing do understand, and just don’t explicitly say often enough, that most hsers are not evangelicals or dominionists out to use their children in some sort of sick army to change the world for Jesus. That most of us read about and appreciate and study science with our children — in all its ever-changing glory.

I hope you are right and FL is just a land of extreme wackos. I have to admit that I have not seen this sort of thinking limited to FL but I hope you are right.

Nance — looking forward to tonight’s lunar eclipse — isn’t everyone? 🙂

20 02 2008

Another quote from Paul’s site:
“I enjoy moderating diverse viewpoints. The principle is simple: respect the person, even when you disagree with what they have to say on a particular issue.”

Moderating between people (that’s what you moderate right, people — not viewpoints) is enjoyable when it’s productive I guess, though it isn’t necessarily either. (And being under attack yourself is something quite different than being the referee or interpreter, above the fray!)

I don’t think “viewpoints” on political issues really ought to be personalized, with or without respect. I think viewpoints are best understood apart from the personal feelings of individuals seeing that angle. I think I respect analysis I disagree with, more than feelings that I share. So maybe after we get through distinguishing between education and religion, we can sort out some important distinctions between thinking and feeling, sort of a Cartesian-Spinozan fest!

20 02 2008

Like the folks pushing the amendment to the US Constitution to enshrine parental rights.

The existing Constitution and case law aren’t enough for these folks. They need an amendment.

But I don’t notice that their enthusiasm for enumerating rights extends to my right to have an abortion.

They are only interested in the amendments that fit their “viewpoint.”

OTOH, Paul’s got a book to sell! Are we becoming a book review blog? 🙂


20 02 2008

Well, I can think of worse fates for a blog. But where’s the free review copy??

20 02 2008

You do this one. I had to do the last one. 🙂


21 02 2008
JJ Ross

Nance, you give me a new thought (new to me, I mean.) Why NOT a privacy amendment then, rather than a parental rights amendment?? It makes much more sense from any angle of argument being used to say it’s needed.

21 02 2008
Nance Confer

Why not an amendment for each separate cause?


21 02 2008

This quote from “Parental Rights, Responsible Parenting” applies to so many topics, I’m starting to think we should add it to Snook’s pages up top, with Large Dogs Welcome and Unschooling Philosophy!

From satirical author Christopher Moore, after some funny stuff about parents being secretly replaced by government robots:

“. . .a GPS might make a nice gift this Christmas. They’ve certainly come down in price from last year. Do we need a machine that tells us where we are?

Maybe what we need is a machine not to tell us WHERE we are, but WHO we are. Something that would make us look into our hearts and answer questions honestly about what is right and wrong, about what it actually means to be free, and human, and humane. About whether we really want to live up to the values of our faith and our country, not the manipulated dogma of people with a selfish agenda.

We need a machine that tells us what it is to be decent, and kind, and forgiving, and generous, and just, and fair, and humble. And not just a voting machine (although we can use that until the new thing comes out).

Something cool.

And we need it before they figure out how to work the death beam.”

21 02 2008

It is getting WEIRD out there, and if this isn’t time for better thinking, it’s only because it’s already too late!

Creationist paints evolution as racist
Letter to the Editor, Augusta Chronicle
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mr. Ken Ham, founder of the Answers in Genesis organization, is coming to town to explain how evolution has incited racism and should be banned from the classroom.

According to Mr. Ham, evolution suggests some races are closer to apes than others. This is the latest creationist strategy to battle evolution, following the failure to get Intelligent Design recognized as science.

Evolution, in fact, denies racial superiority, claiming instead that all branches of man are equidistant from the apes as measured by generations. DNA studies show the branching of the races was so recent as to be negligible. We are not separate species, and with current rates of intermarriage, race itself will disappear in a few hundred years.

Moreover, evolution has never assumed any measure of superiority at all. If there is any yardstick of superiority in evolution, it would be the proliferation of offspring, by which the most recent census would place Hispanics above both African-Americans and whites, and fire ants above us all.

Mr. Ham seems to forget that for 300 years the Bible was quoted by Southern white preachers to support slavery, identifying Africans as descendants of Noah’s son Ham (no relation to Ken). Noah cursed Ham’s children to enslavement after Noah got drunk and naked and Ham failed to cover him up.

Come on, Mr. Ham. Are we to keep a literal interpretation of Genesis at all cost? Should we hide from our children the Hubble telescope pictures which still haven’t found the firmament holding back the waters of chaos? And how is it that God created night and day on the first day, photosynthetic plants on the third, but didn’t create the sun until day four?

Let us enjoy the spiritual truths of the Bible without insisting on its clearly bad science.

Joe Fausnight, Evans

21 02 2008

“……… with current rates of intermarriage, race itself will disappear in a few hundred years.”

I used to believe this was true. I used to believe racism had been nearly eliminated, but that was just how I was raised. Unfortunately, I think it will take a lot more than ‘a few hundred years’ for people to let go of their fears and hatred enought for this to happen.

21 02 2008

Maybe there is a difference between “race” itself disappearing and “racism” disappearing!
Ironic that the prejudice would outlive the purported excuse for it. . .

21 02 2008

Hi JJ,

Thanks for the mention.

Very interesting post. I sense and feel your frustration! 🙂 You got me thinking about how valuable it would be for those interested to get a stronger feel for the Christian Worldview, as it’s understood by many these days. There’s no room for compromises – nor respecting different viewpoints. It’s all about culture war…

…Yikes. Gotta run. 🙂

21 02 2008

Hi Lynn, I agree. That would be valuable indeed. Ideas?
(Are you volunteering perhaps?) 🙂

22 02 2008
22 02 2008
Feminist Unschoolers to “Bitch”: We’re Here, Not Queer « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Lynn suggests Thinking Parents study up on the “Christian Worldview” that political patriarchs are pushing as morality and family values inside and outside of home education, with “no room for compromises – nor respecting different viewpoints. It’s all about culture war…“ […]


Something I considered in an earlier comment –
“. . . scientism is sometimes used to mean elevating science to a sort of worship or all-purpose imperative, beyond what’s rational or directly supported by science itself. Too much of one good thing to the exclusion of all others, perhaps?

So maybe we could use a word like “Christianism” these days, to distinguish world-conquering dominionist dogma as completely different from C.S. Lewis’ individual and private discoveries in “mere christianity?”

22 02 2008
Crimson Wife

Our nation is NOT secular, but pluralistic. The Constitution guarantees us the right to practice whatever faith we choose for ourselves or none whatsoever if that’s our preference. The problem is that too many people want to impose their own worldview (secular, Evangelical Protestant, whatever) on everyone else. Why can’t we all just respect each other’s rights to belief or unbelief?

22 02 2008

OK. Now to get those in power to agree. 🙂


22 02 2008

CW – I wasn’t talking about the nation though. I was talking about home education law and protections. Those are in fact not about religion — except in states where Christianity apparently got all excited, confused the two in the first place and failed to make the distinction legal (TN is one I happen to know about, because Kay explained it to me. It’s not right.)

23 02 2008

Lynn, I went to your link and first I just scrolled down the page that came up, noticing the authors collectively were a whole line of white men’s pictures — in authoritarian dark suits with white shirts and ties! — with a couple of schoolteacher-like white women thrown in.

I wonder if that’s an erroneous impression, a marketing oversight they should fix, or if it’s actually a subliminal selling point that effectively attracts who they want to attract?

23 02 2008

A nice post by Dale McGowan about how kids figure out what they believe and why, and which labels apply to it, or don’t. . .

1 03 2008
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[…] to dominionists and abusers. (Nance and I can’t do this all by ourselves, just talking with homeschoolers online, you know, but we’re trying!) Quick, someone call the paternalist Texas megachurches before […]

12 03 2008
Florida Follies: Billions of Years and Dollars VANISH! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] everything we ever knew and believed about the power of Government in the Sunshine has been repossessed, gone! “It’s not a […]

23 03 2008
Define THE Christian Worldview for Homeschoolers? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] UPDATE: “Mind Your Head About Home Education and Religion” […]

12 11 2008
Dale McGowan’s Guide to Thinking Parent Blogs « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Mind Your Head About Home Education and Religion […]

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