Thursday, October 12, 2006

Why I Homeschool - Part VI - Religion

I've gone away from this series for a while, partly because everything has been so busy, and also because I always approach this issue with trepidation. I do homeschool because of my religious beliefs and because of my desire to hand them down to my children, but I don't seem to approach this topic with the zeal that many other homeschoolers do.

Suffice it to say, I spent 7 years in a Lutheran parochial school and 6 years in public schools. I consider myself blessed to have gone to a Lutheran school because since it was not a strong part of our life at home,I owe the feeding of my soul to these teachers. Because of their diligent and clear teachings on the Divine Presence in baptism and holy communion, I could never become a member of another Christian denomination, no matter how much I wanted to (and at times, I did). I grew up relatively strong in Biblical knowledge, and because of weekly chapel that used the liturgy, I am still at home with the worship and hymnody of my heritage.

However, on every other count, I received a MUCH better education in public schools, and given that I know that my husband and I take the command of God very seriously to raise our children to know Him, and make it a part of our daily lives, not just our weekly lives, the religious environment would be less of a concern for us.

In fact, my concern is almost as high that my children not be taught the random faiths that the teachers have in the schools as I am concerned that the schools are teaching false values and evolution as truth.

I went to college in Utah. There, the cry to have God in the schools would mean the teachers would be teaching about the God of Mormonism. Actually, that God is taught in their schools. My nephew had Civics in 5th grade and he had to make a model of a town...complete with a Temple Square. My sister student-taught in a classroom where a series of books were read where the students didn't like the teacher, so they decided to get him fired by putting alcohol in his desk. They talked to Bobby, because his parents would have alcohol, because they weren't Mormon. LDS students are allowed to leave for part of the day to attend Scripture classes at education centers located conveniently across the street while non-Mormon students have study time. I attended a PUBLIC university where at the graduation ceremony prayers were said and the keynote speaker was Gordon B. Hinckley....who was the vice president of the LDS church at the time and now is the current president and prophet. He was given an honorary doctorate for his contributions to the Mormon church. The other three keynote speakers all had made contributions to the work of "the church."

I don't want God taught in the schools...because it just may not be my God....and may very well may not be what I believe about Him. A liberal Christian teacher might teach my kids that the Bible is not completely true. A Baptist might tell my kids that their baptism isn't valid. How would you even begin to regulate this??? And the government has no business teaching religion. That's part of the reason why my ancestors came over here from Germany in the first place.

With the state of our synod, I don't have much more faith in Lutheran schools, either. Some of what I was taught was terribly wrong (my favorite was "if you don't confess EVERY sin, you are going to Hell. By 5th grade, where the teacher said that, I'd luckily known enough to know that was wrong. I hope my classmates did. I also hope that teacher got that straightened out when he went to seminary). I also have had too many friends studying to be teachers or DCEs in Lutheran colleges and have heard what they have said, and I have seen a few too many churches where the teachers were the ones pushing the most strongly for contemporary worship and looser theology, or completely abandoning going to a Lutheran church at all in favor of the non-denominational church down the way, despite what their contract said.

Last month I was talking with a Lutheran school teacher and her husband, and the Augsburg Confession came up. "I had to read Christian Doctrine in school. That was arduous enough. I have no desire to read that," she said. With all due respect to the author, Dr. Koehler, a textbook that outlines our teachings is nothing compared to the actual living 50 page document that has the passion and zeal of men who were defining our faith for the sake of saving their lives. It is an EASY read, really. It is intriguing and interesting!!! Why are our teachers not reading this? Why not every student of a Lutheran college and every person who is trying to get certified to teach in a Lutheran school? I think our church secretaries should be required to read it to learn what we are about, whether they are Lutheran or not!!! How can they impart the beauty of our faith when church workers who profess to be confessional have not even looked at our confessions????? And I am to trust the bringing up in the faith of my children to teachers who are completely ignorant of anything that is not in the teachers manual of their class's religion curriculum...unless they have taken up educating themselves?

Yet, all these negatives are not why I keep my kids out of the schools. I do it because I LOVE to teach them to know God. I WANT to be the one who does this. I am responsible for it, because the Bible puts that responsibility on the head of the family (my husband) and on me because I am his helpmeet and the one responsible for the day to day education of our kids. It really is one of the most enjoyable tasks of our day. I am daily motivated by no stronger reason than this.

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Jonathan & Kaethe said...

Thanks so much for your recent home-schooling posts. My daughter is only three months old, but I'm already amazed at our roles as parents in her development. I am so thankful that I can be a stay-at-home mom (and practice social work outside of the home only one day a week) and it seems that the natural extension of that would be home-schooling. I like to think I do that already by interacting and caring for her! Interestingly, I have spent most of my professional career in public schools and I think the state of education (particularly urban education) makes me want to educate her and her future siblings at home even more. Thanks for making that task seem not so daunting and completely natural.

Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


Congratulations on your little one!

It really is a natural process, and the beauty of it is, it stays that way no matter which "paradigm" you choose, because you are gearing it to fit your family...your style, your child's personality, your schedules, etc.

God bless you on your journey!