Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Christian Homeschooling Conferences That Make You Go Hmmmm...

We live in dynamic times. Our society is becoming increasingly pluralistic as people of different races, faiths, political stances, sexual orientations, and gender identities speak in the public square. Science continues to teach us more about our universe and our origins. Technology connects us to more people and more knowledge than ever before. For those who are comfortable with progress, this is an exhilarating time to be alive.

However, for a small segment of society, these developments represent a loss of privilege and power. Rather than learn how to navigate this evolving world, the Religious Right resists by clinging to a narrow, intolerant worldview and struggling against any encroachments. Some forms of Christian homeschooling are intended to pass along this worldview to the next generation in the hopes that they will continue the struggle. The result is homeschooling with a decidedly dominionist, right-wing, anti-science slant. One homeschooling event in my region features many examples of this mindset.

The Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP) will be hosting its 29th annual homeschool convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on May 8-9. In years past, the event has featured speakers such as creationist Ken Ham, disgraced Vision Forum president Doug Phillips, and anti-gay cake provocateur Bill Jack. Over the years, I've noticed several recurring themes at the CHAP convention, a product of the fundamentalist Christianity that infuses the event. Creationism, purity culture, stereotypical gender roles, and distrust of non-Christians and mainstream society were common topics in CHAP workshops. The 2015 CHAP convention is no exception.

The CHAP convention schedule often features creationist/anti-evolution workshops for homeschooling parents. For example, in "The Evolution of a Creationist", Jobe Martin will suggest that Christian homeschoolers are "stemming the tide" against fundamentalists' favorite boogeymen, evolution and "secular humanism".
"This talk includes many of the evidences for creation that the Lord used to bring Dr. Martin from being an agnostic, zen-Buddhist, evolutionist to a young earth creationist. Dr. Martin uses statistics and current studies to vividly demonstrate how our Christian school kids are following the same downward path into secular humanism that the public school kids are taking and that it is only the homeschoolers who are “stemming the tide,” though they are also sloping off into moderate Christianity instead of staying solidly Biblical. When belief in the Bible’s authority and accuracy is shaken, people lose their trust in it and the culture departs from Biblical principles. This talk will help equip all ages with foundational truths about creation which will enable young people to stand strong against the attacks of evolution and secular humanism in the academic arena and today’s culture."
Another workshop entitled "Incredible Creatures that Proclaim Creation" will insist that evolution is false and creationism is true.
"God’s incredible creation will wow you as Dr. Martin shares fascinating facts about many different creatures the Lord has created. He will explain how it is utterly impossible for them to evolve. He will also share how each one of these irreducibly complex and amazing creations can be used to testify and proclaim that there is a Creator God who is the Lord Jesus Christ."
Right-wing rhetoric often finds its way into CHAP workshops. In a workshop entitled "The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Courageous Story of St. Patrick", William Federer will suggest that modern society, like ancient Rome, is mired in "sexual immorality", welfare, excessive taxation, and suppression of the Christian community.
"How was the time Saint Patrick lived similar to today? The Roman Empire was falling: Illegal immigrants were overrunning boarders; Latin Language was displaced: Sexual immorality; Exposure of unwanted infants; Violent gladiatorial entertainment; Outsourcing to North Africa; Enormous debt & government; Explosion of welfare & government jobs; Taxes unbearable; the Church was discouraged to have political involvement; Military was over stretched; and Atilla the Hun committed terrorist attacks."
Dominionism finds its way into other workshops. Another William Federer workshop, "Change to Chains: The 6,000 Year Quest for Global Power", claims that without "Judeo-Christian morality", societies succumb to either anarchy or totalitarian governments (despite evidence to the contrary).
"In the nearly 6,000 years of recorded human history, POWER, like gravity, seems to inevitably concentrate into the hands of ONE individual, sometimes called pharoah, caesar, czar, kaiser, king, caliph, emperor, monarch, sultan, president or communist dictator. No matter what the autocratic leader’s particular title is, the default setting for human government throughout history has been monarchy. How rare is America’s experiment with a republic? On the spectrum of human government, one side is TOTAL GOVERNMENT with power concentrated in the hands of a totalitarian dictator, and the other side is NO GOVERNMENT - anarchy. America, out of all previous nations on earth, was able to get closest to the anarchy side of the spectrum and still maintain order because of a secret ingredient - Judeo-Christian morality."
The fundamentalist persecution complex is in full bloom in William Federer's "Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance No Longer Tolerates the Religion of Its Founders". Judging by the convention booklet's description, the "Backfired" workshop will depict Christianity as the target of discrimination and silencing in America (despite evidence to the contrary).
The faith that gave birth to tolerance is no longer tolerated! How did America go from Pilgrims seeking freedom to express their Judeo-Christian beliefs to today’s discrimination against those very beliefs in the name of tolerance? “Backfired” chronicles the history of this disturbing development now rampant in our country. Do these headlines sound familiar?
• Ten Commandments taken down
• “Under God” removed from the Pledge
• Prayer prohibited
• Nativity Scenes banned
• Salvation Army defunded
• Boy Scouts sued
• Christmas Carols stopped
• Bible called ‘hate speech’
The CHAP workshop themes should be familiar to anyone who observes the Religious Right. The usual boogeymen -- secular humanism, evolution, godless government, "persecution" of Christians -- are depicted as threats that devout Christians must resist. Homeschooled children are assigned the task of torchbearers who must "stem the tide" of a sinful society. Sadly, none of this rhetoric will help homeschooled children grow up into well-rounded adults who can successfully navigate a pluralistic society. I realize that the parents who attend these conventions love their children and mean well, they are doing them no favors by teaching them a skewed worldview.


  1. Don't knock homeschooling Ahab. The charlatans gotta keep the ranks dumbed down and disempowered. Otherwise they may cease to be relevant.

    1. Agi Tater -- Fundamentalist Christian homeschooling definitely does so.


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