Discussions of Faith and Doubt – Part 1

Although I’m entering the political discourse again today, I hope that those of you who blatantly oppose my political views (which is probably most of you – and I’m cool with that) can see the bigger picture, the main message that I am trying to communicate, which transcends politics. My aim with my blog is to intelligently discuss issues that pertain to evangelical Christianity, and unfortunately politics plays a really big role in the expression of evangelical Christianity, and therein lays one of the problems.

I’m writing this post in response to two different articles from Christianity Today. “WhyWe Should Reexamine the Faith of Barack Obama” by Owen Strachan and “Barack Obama: Evangelical-in-Chief” by Judd Birdsall, which was written in response to Stachan’s article. The first article argues that President Obama is not a Christian. The article admits that the president talk often of faith, but the author’s argument is that if the president were a saved man, he would be against abortion.

Saving faith creates a relentless desire in the name of Christ to heal the wounded, restore the weak, and defend tiny fetuses that kick and spin and wave their miniscule arms when they hear their parents’ voices. Saving faith causes us to weep and yell and wrestle with God in prayer for infants that are savaged in the womb. Saving faith cannot abide unlawful death. It must and will decry it.

So when someone professes faith, yet has none of these instinctive reactions—and actually opposes such instincts despite years of membership in supposedly Bible-teaching churches—we realize, chillingly, that something greater than right morality is missing. The gospel, the ground of our ethics and the animator of our conscience, is very likely missing. Perhaps the person speaks of faith and their nearness to God. In reality, though, they are far from him. They may have come near at some point to the kingdom, but like the rich young ruler who chooses reigning with sinners over reigning with Christ, they are desperately far. (Strachan, “Why We Should Reexamine the Faith of Barack Obama”).
I think it is extremely dangerous to assume that a person is not a Christian simply because they don’t believe the same things we do. The Bible never mentions believing abortion is murder to be one of the pre-requisites of salvation. I as a Christian do not agree with abortion, but I do not assume that those who don’t agree with me are not Christians. When we get saved, Jesus comes into our lives and he changes us from the inside out…he changes the things that he wants to change, not the things that everyone else thinks we should change. I don’t know the mind of God; perhaps he is more interested in working on other things in President Obama’s life than he is about Obama’s beliefs on abortion.
One of the problems with evangelical Christianity is that we have chosen a select few things, normally things that the majority of evangelicals don’t struggle with, such as abortion and homosexuality, to be defining factors of Christianity, and the things that we choose to be the most passionate about. But, what if we decided to major on things that we actually struggle with? How might we be able to change the world were we first willing to take inventory of our own lives and be morally outraged about lying, arrogance, gossip, theft, greed, gluttony, fighting and the like? If we worried about ourselves and our sins first, and if we tried to rid ourselves of those sins as passionately as we try to outlaw abortion or ban gay marriage, maybe then the world would at the very least have a little more respect for us when we say we don’t agree with abortion or homosexuality. Choosing things that majority of evangelicals don’t struggle with and turning those into big issues is really a good example of the classic Biblical story talking about us trying to remove motes from other people’s eyes when there are huge beams in ours.

Another thing we as evangelical Christians need to realize is that we don’t have the monopoly on truth. It’s possible that some of the ideas we cling to and promote as Biblical may be anything but. We need to be willing to be wrong, instead of being adamant that our view of the Biblical text is the only accurate one. In the words of the president himself:
No matter how much Christians who oppose homosexuality may claim that they hate the sin but love the sinner, such a judgment inflicts pain on good people – people who are made in the image of God, and who are often truer to Christ’s message than those that condemn them. And I was reminded that that is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided, just as I cannot claim infallibility in my support of abortion rights. I must admit that I may have been infected with society’s prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God; that Jesus’ call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history. I don’t believe such doubts make me a bad Christian. I believe they make me human, limited in my understandings of God’s purpose and therefore prone to sin. When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations – whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion. (Obama, “The Audacity of Hope”, pg. 223 – 224).
Obama tells us what his beliefs are with his current understanding of God, and even has the humility to admit that he may be wrong, and is obviously willing to learn. If more evangelical Christians reminded themselves that they could be wrong and that they maybe don’t have the exclusive rights on truth, maybe we could then have better discussions and have more respect in the world we are supposed to be being a light to. 

References: 

Obama, B 2006, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Three Rivers Press, New York.

Strachan, O 2012, Why We Should Reexamine the Faith of Barack Obama, Christianity Today, June 21, 2012 accessed on 22 August 2012. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/juneweb-only/why-we-should-reexamine-the-faith-of-barack-obama.html?start=1
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Grassroots in Education: The History of the Modern Homeschooling Movement in America – Part 3

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)
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.
References

Carper, J, & Hunt, T 2007, “Chapter 9: Homeschooling redivivus,” Dissenting tradition in American education pp. 239-264 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Coleman, R.E. 2010, Ideologues, pedagogues, pragmatics: a case study of the homeschool community in Delaware County, Indiana, Masters thesis, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

Cimino, R & Lattin, D 1998, Shopping for Faith: American religion in the new millennium, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Cooper, B & Sureau, J 2007, “The politics of homeschooling: new developments, new challenges”, Educational Policy, 21, 1, p. 110-131, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Dowdy, T.E. & McNamara, P.H, 1997 Religion north American style, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Gaither, M 2009, ‘Homeschooling in the USA: past, present and future’, Theory and Research in Education, 7, 3, pp. 331-346, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Goldfield, Abbott, Anderson, Argersinger, Argersinger, Barney, & Weir 2001, The American journey: a history of the United States, 2nd edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Klicka, C.J, 1995 The right choice: the incredible failure of public education and the rising hope of home schooling: an academic historical, practical and legal perspective, Noble publishing associates, Gresham, Oregon.

The Christian Left – Part 5

Looking at the teachings of Jesus changed my worldview drastically, and it was the teachings of Jesus that, in the end, made me change my political beliefs as well. I’m not totally on the left side of politics either, I identify as a moderate that leans left because when it comes right down to it, on some issues I’m conservative and on some issues I’m liberal, I just happen to be liberal on more issues than I am conservative.


“As far as I’m concerned the teachings of Jesus are far too radical to be embodied in a particular platform or represented by a particular candidate. It’s not up to some politician to represent my Christian values to the world: it’s up to me. That’s why I’m always a little perplexed when someone finds out I’m not a republican and asks, ‘how can you call yourself a Christian?’” Rachel Held Evans, “Evolving in Monkey Town”, pg. 206-207.

If Jesus was walking this earth and he was in America in this day and age, I don’t think he would be a republican. I don’t think he would necessarily be a democrat either, because his teachings were so radical that not even Christians believe or follow all of them. I know that for me, sometimes the teachings of Jesus are downright scary because they are so radical and I’m afraid that if I live passionately for him, I’m going to face ridicule for it, because people are going to think I’m crazy. I’m not arguing that we need to fit in to our culture necessarily; I’m arguing that Christians need to obey the teachings of Jesus, and, if we did so, I believe that the current political landscape in the USA would look much different.

As Tony Campolo says in his book “Red Letter Christians” (2008, pg. 215), I’m a theological conservative who has embraced socially progressive ideas. I know that a lot of people don’t understand how the two can go together, but for me they just do. When I really and truly focus on what my Savior taught, I find that the two go together just fine. The “Lord’s Prayer” says “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Matthew 6:10 NIV. I believe that when I accepted Jesus, I became a citizen of the kingdom of God, and that as such I need to live by kingdom principles. These principles have changed me, and I think that’s the point.

I’m nowhere near perfect at living out the teachings of Jesus, I fail at it every day, but when I absorb the teachings of Jesus and meditate on them, and live them, they change me.

“If our theologies make us focus only on the eternal and the individual (i.e., getting my soul into heaven) so that we avoid God’s concern for the historic and the global (i.e., God’s will being done on earth as well as in heaven), then the more people we win over to our theologies, the fewer people will care about God’s world here and now.

                The more converts we make, the worse the world will become.

If God really cares about justice in this world here and now, and if we are converting people away from that concern, then we are working against God. We could inadvertently become enemies of God’s wishes. Brian McLaren, “Adventures in Missing the Point” pg. 57.

I realized that if my political beliefs did not align with the teachings of Jesus, I was going against God. I started to realize that perhaps God cared much more that I love my neighbour and less about the culture-wars. Perhaps he would rather me act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8). I started to realize that if I live as God is calling me to live, that would make a bigger statement than any political position I hold.

“Jesus replied: ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV.

References:

Campolo, T 2008, Red Letter Christians, Regal, Ventura

Campolo, T and McLaren, B 2006, Adventures in Missing the Point, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Evans, R 2010, Evolving in Monkey Town, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grassroots in Education: A History of the Modern Homeschooling Movement in America – Part 2

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. 

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.)

References

Carper, J, & Hunt, T 2007, “Chapter 9: Homeschooling redivivus,” Dissenting tradition in American education pp. 239-264 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Coleman, R.E. 2010, Ideologues, pedagogues, pragmatics: a case study of the homeschool community in Delaware County, Indiana, Masters thesis, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

Cimino, R & Lattin, D 1998, Shopping for Faith: American religion in the new millennium, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Cooper, B & Sureau, J 2007, “The politics of homeschooling: new developments, new challenges”, Educational Policy, 21, 1, p. 110-131, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Dowdy, T.E. & McNamara, P.H, 1997 Religion north American style, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Gaither, M 2009, ‘Homeschooling in the USA: past, present and future’, Theory and Research in Education, 7, 3, pp. 331-346, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Goldfield, Abbott, Anderson, Argersinger, Argersinger, Barney, & Weir 2001, The American journey: a history of the United States, 2nd edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Klicka, C.J, 1995 The right choice: the incredible failure of public education and the rising hope of home schooling: an academic historical, practical and legal perspective, Noble publishing associates, Gresham, Oregon.

The Christian Left – Part 4

I believe we need to live in this world, and as much as we can, to live in peace with everyone. In the Old Testament, Israel fought wars at God’s direction, but when Jesus came, the New Testament, the new covenant, came with him, and Jesus taught us a different way, the way of peace. Part of the reason is that when Jesus came, he brought the kingdom of God with him so to speak. The kingdom of God is not of this world, and the philosophies of the kingdom of God are far different than the philosophies of this world. Jesus came to save us from the world and it’s philosophies and to reconcile us to God and make us part of the kingdom of God. We discussed some of the ideas of the kingdom of God in the last post, but here is what Jesus himself preached:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3-10.

The way that I see it is that when Jesus came to earth, he established a new religion. Instead of Judaism which had been the way to be right with God until then, Jesus changed everything and instituted Christianity. There was no more need for Judaism anymore because Jesus had come to permanently bridge the gap between God and man, and Jesus’ blood rather than the blood of animals, was now what reconciled people to God. When Jesus came to earth, many things changed, and he brought the kingdom of God with him. Alisa Harris says beautifully what I am trying to portray:

“I had always heard that the Pharisees missed Jesus because they were searching not for a suffering servant but for a warrior king who would come with armies to overthrow their political enemies. How absurd, I always thought, never seeing that I, too, had searched my whole life for an earthly messiah who would overthrow my own political enemies, the one God would use to lead His chosen people in his chosen nation back to him.

I was done chasing supermen. I had stopped believing in the perfect leader who could say ‘let there be justice’ and by the force of his word change the whole earth into heaven. Instead I determined to grab hold of the truth I’d always known – that the leader had already come, had chosen instead to say; ‘my kingdom is not of this world,’ and had been despised and rejected because his message was bigger than the first century political pundits had predicted. When Jesus said to go the extra mile and turn the other cheek, he called us to subvert tyranny with love and redeem injustice with suffering. He didn’t say that tyranny and injustice would cease immediately, be he promised that the time would come when the meek, the poor, and the merciful would inherit the earth.” Alisa Harris, “Raised Right”, pg. 74-75.

Jesus’ message was bigger than the first century political pundits knew, and Jesus’ message is bigger than modern politics. I believe that I ought to make political decisions based on my faith, but I need to be careful that my political positions do not determine my faith, they are a manifestation of it, only one manifestation of it, and there are so many other ways to show my faith without making politics to be the most important. There are others that are more important, like worshipping God, and worshipping God is not the same as having the right political beliefs. Both show my faith, I just need to be careful not to elevate politics to a higher position than they deserve. There are many other legitimate ways to express faith, and I need to make sure I am expressing my faith in a variety of ways. I need to make sure that my faith gets its meaning from Jesus, not from politics. Alisa Smith again says it beautifully:

“For nearly all my childhood and adolescence, on into early adulthood, politics gave my faith meaning. Politics expressed my faith. Politics was a way of fighting for ‘a future and a hope,’ my way of proving I believed what Jesus said: ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world.’ A surge of political fervor marked my soul’s revival, and the vision of a godly America was my promised land. My faith was so intertwined with conservative politics that I viewed them as one and the same. In my ironclad worldview, faith and politics were inseparable.

So when I ventured out into the complicated world and found it shaking my confidence in the goodness of culture-war politics, my faith shook too. With the conservative political accoutrements of my evangelical Christianity stripped away, little of my faith remained.” Alisa Harris, “Raised Right”, pg 5-6.

I want to unpack what Alisa is saying here because parts of her journey were similar to mine. I went from a soldier in the culture-wars to being disillusioned with the culture-wars, and that disillusionment almost ruined my faith altogether. The injuries I sustained from fighting in the culture wars were almost lethal. But the thing is that Jesus heals. He’s the Great Physician, and with his gentle care to my wounds, my faith survived.

When I stopped fighting the culture wars, stopped living to prove about what I was against, I started figuring out what I was for. Instead of being self-righteous and telling the world that I was against abortion, gay marriage, birth control, illegal immigrants, and environmentalists, I started to be for life, love, peace, feminism, helping the less fortunate and taking care of the earth God has given us. Instead of passionately arguing the things I was against, I started to live the things that I was for.

Reference:

Harris, A 2011, Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith From Politics, Water Brook Press, Colorado Springs. 

Grassroots in Education: A History of the Modern Homeschooling Movement in America -Part 1

I am archiving on here what I believe to be my “best of” posts on the old blog. This one will be in three parts and it’s actually a paper that I wrote for school. I’m trying to integrate them with the new content. I am putting up new content every second day and archive every second day until it is done. Well, that’s the plan anyway.


Introduction

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)

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. 

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.)

References

Carper, J, & Hunt, T 2007, “Chapter 9: Homeschooling redivivus,” Dissenting tradition in American education pp. 239-264 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.
Coleman, R.E. 2010, Ideologues, pedagogues, pragmatics: a case study of the homeschool community in Delaware County, Indiana, Masters thesis, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

Cimino, R & Lattin, D 1998, Shopping for Faith: American religion in the new millennium, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Cooper, B & Sureau, J 2007, “The politics of homeschooling: new developments, new challenges”, Educational Policy, 21, 1, p. 110-131, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

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