Evangelical homeschooling in a pandemic

We did not homeschool our kids and never really thought seriously about it. I am not an expert on the movement, but I do know that people–even evangelical Christians–homeschool their kids for all kinds of reasons. Many of them use the materials Elena Trueba describes in her informative piece on homeschooling at Religion & Politics, and many do not. (It seems like everyone I know who is homeschooling is using some kind of classical Christian curriculum).

Here is a taste of Trueba’s piece:

The educational materials promoted by HSLDA [Home School Legal Defense Association] and its affiliates across the U.S. may not mention Rushdoony by name, but many of them carry his narrative of dominion-taking nonetheless. There’s K-12 curriculum produced by Bob Jones University, notorious for banning interracial relationships on its campus until the year 2000, which teaches that God gave the United States to Protestant Christians. There’s Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), which has seen an increase in demand for its materials during the pandemic and describes the history taught in public schools as “revisionist.” There’s Abeka, which denounces evolution, labels gay rights as a “radical social agenda,” and claims that enslaved people who “knew Christ” were better off than free people who did not. Besides being incredibly popular among Christian homeschoolers, what these curricula have in common is that they portray the United States as a nation belonging to Christians—and as a nation that Christians have to take back.

Christian nationalist narratives like these have existed in predominantly white and conservative religious spaces long before this pandemic, but their prevalence in homeschooling materials means these ideologies may infiltrate a new, unwitting audience. The pandemic-induced withdrawal from public schools poses what one homeschooling advocate recently called “the biggest opportunity for domestic victory the Right has had in 70 years.” Julie Ann Smith, a homeschooling mother and writer, explains it like this on her website: “When I started homeschooling in the early 90s, I went to listen to Christian homeschoolers speak and they would often sell curricula in another room. But one thing I didn’t consider was this: those running the homeschool conventions had an agenda and they only sold curricula which matched their agenda.” Later, she came to understand that the homeschooling materials and circles she encountered were embedded with patriarchal and Reconstructionist ideologies. It’s not difficult to imagine families facing a similar version of Smith’s problem, as they try to quickly cobble together a semester to a year’s worth of education for their student and opt for the materials that are the most heavily promoted and widely lauded by homeschoolers. They should understand that these materials come with an agenda.

In the era of Covid-19, homeschooling is, for many families, the only option. It has the potential to be a positive one, providing students and their families the opportunity to chart the course of their education. However, even in the midst of a pandemic and with so many responsibilities, parents have yet another fraught task on their to-do list: They must be mindful of the history and ideological backbone of American homeschooling. Many of the materials they may encounter have roots in Christian nationalism. Families who wish to take advantage of all the good that homeschooling has to offer are responsible not just for their children’s education but their own knowledge as well.

Read the entire piece here.

Christian Nationalist Homeschool Curriculum: The “Globalist Left” Hates You and Your Children

ChristendomAre you “tired of being told you and your children are the cause of all of America’s problems?

Are you “tired of paying top dollar for homeschool curricula only to have to filter out a lot of anti-American, politically correct, multicultural material?

If the answer is “yes,” you may want use “The Christendom Curriculum“.  It is a self-proclaimed “Christian nationalist” curriculum.  (Yes, Christian nationalism does exist).

But wait, there is more:

They Hate Your Children Because of Who They Are

The Globalist Left grows more insane and enraged every day. They are convinced that the people of America—and all the European peoples of Western Civilization—are the source of virtually all the evils in the world.

They hate you—they hate your children—just because of what you look like, who your ancestors were, who you are.

The answer is to give your children an education in the Bible and the great books of Western Civilization: the Civilization of America and the peoples of Europe….

At Last…A Christian Nationalist Homeschool Curriculum

In an era that despises and dishonors our fathers in the faith, the fathers of our people, The Christendom Curriculum was created to provide a homeschool experience that honors our fathers and mothers, as the Scriptures command.

This is a thoroughly Christian Nationalist homeschool curriculum: that means we embrace God’s intention, as described in the Bible, to raise up many nations in the earth, each with its own unique culture and language, to glorify Him in their own unique ways.

We understand that God stands against all anti-nationalist, or Globalist, schemes, whether it is the Tower of Babel, the United Nations, or the European Union.

And The Christendom Curriculum honors the civilization that produced the unique cultures of America and the West, not as the only valid civilization in the world, but as our civilization, the one God gave us, and our fathers built for us.

Learn more here.

John Wilsey is on Fire

John Wilsey teaches history at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary campus in Houston.  He is a real jack of all trades.  He is the interim pastor of a Houston-area Baptist church.  He teaches courses in history and theology to traditional seminary students, undergraduates, and prisoners in a maximum security prison.  He has written a good book critiquing the “Christian America” thesis and has a forthcoming book on American exceptionalism.

But I am writing about John today because he has recently written two great blog posts.

The first post, which appears at John’s blog “To Breathe Your Free Air,” is an honest account of the struggles and triumphs of writing his book on American exceptionalism.  His exhortation to “write, write, write” was something I needed to hear as I continue to push forward with my American Bible Society project.  If you need some inspiration to jump start a writing project, head over to Wilsey’s post.

The second post, which was recently published at Religion in American History, offers an assessment of American exceptionalist rhetoric in Christian school and home school American history textbooks. In the process he invokes the term “Americolatry.”  Here is a taste:

Combine the idea of American exceptionalism with the Christian America thesis—the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation—and you have a potent brew indeed, a super-charged nationalism which has an exceptional quality all its own. 

I have a word for this powerful ideological combination—Americolatry. Americolatry consists of a form of civil religion that entails the doctrine of American greatness, innocence, and superiority (e.g., Reagan’s “the last, best hope of mankind,” Albright’s “indispensable nation,” or David Gelernter’s America as “one of the most beautiful religious concepts mankind has ever known”(2)). Americolatry also entails the practice of religious devotion to America by inextricably linking Christian devotion to patriotism. In other words, to be a devoted Christian equals the uncritical acceptance of America as superior and morally regenerate. 

Thanks for some good writing, John!

Are Evangelical Homeschoolers Embracing Evolution?

Florida homeschool convention

According to David Wheeler, author of a recent post at The Atlantic, more and more evangelical homeschooling parents want their children exposed to evolution.  At least one publisher–Christian Schools International out of Grand Rapids, Michigan–has responded with homeschooling and Christian school textbooks that do not “attempt to discredit the theory of evolution.”

Here is a taste:

This staunch rejection of modern science tends to characterize today’s leading homeschool textbooks. For example, Science 4 Christian Schools, a homeschool textbook published by Bob Jones University Press, doesn’t mince words when it comes to evolution and Christian faith. “People who accept the Bible believe that God made everything,” the book states. “They call God’s description of how things began the Creation Model. Those who disregard the Bible believe instead that everything got here by itself. They call this description of how things began the Evolution Model.”

The assertion that anyone who believes in evolution “disregards” the Bible offends many evangelicals who want their children to be well-versed in modern science. Jen Baird Seurkamp, an evangelical who homeschools her children, avoids textbooks that discredit evolution. “Our science curriculum is one currently used in public schools,” she says. “We want our children to be educated, not sheltered from things we are afraid of them learning.”

The rising number of homeschool families striving to reconcile belief in God with today’s scientific consensus has attracted the attention of at least one publisher — Christian Schools International in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Most science textbooks that attempt to present the content from a Christian perspective also attempt to discredit the theory of evolution,” says Ken Bergwerff, a science curriculum specialist at Christian Schools International. “Some do it discreetly; others are quite blatant. The CSI science curriculum clearly presents science from a Christian perspective, but does not attempt to discredit the theory of evolution. The content presents God as the author of all of creation, no matter how he did it or when he did it.”

Christianity Today magazine has followed-up with a story of its own in which it notes that Ken Ham, the nation’s leading young-earth creationist and founder of the Creation Museum in Kentucky, has been disinvited from several homeschool conferences for “unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited’ comments about evangelical evolutionists.

Now it is time for the evangelical homeschool movement to offer a more balanced view of American history than the usual fare offered by David Barton and other Christian nationalists.