What, exactly, is a family?
When I was a child, and during the years when I became a tween, a teen and ultimately an adult, at least in years, I do not remember anyone discussing the definition of family. People understood what that meant. The model for family was a core of father, mother, and children, with a halo of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws. We all knew families that were missing some of these elements because of death, divorce, or abandonment, but we still called them families.
We all knew in those days that parents were in charge of rearing their children, and nobody messed with parents. When my parents, for reasons that are irrelevant today, became outraged that my teacher made everybody try square dancing, the school administration respected their wishes and told my teacher to let me sit out. My parents were not scorned by school or community, even though some people really scratched their heads about it. Parents were in charge of the children, and nobody disputed that important role.
As the twentieth century wound down and the twenty-first was born, many parents completely removed their children from public schools for reasons much more consequential than square-dancing. Parents who held religious convictions that two genders are required for a marriage and two genders are best for bringing up children could not stomach an education that included readings from a book entitled Heather has two Mommies. They did not so much question the skills of the teachers as the content of the teaching. They chose to make a great personal sacrifice in time, energy and money to homeschool their children. They elected to pay the price of their own moral convictions. They did not ask anyone to subsidize them. They did not ask for any special privilege. They simply accepted the obligation to assure that their children received a good education by giving their children that education themselves.
In recent years, many parents have chosen this option because both the skills deficits of teachers and the content of the curriculum in their local public schools were unacceptable. Whatever the reason, the parents have been willing to pay the price of their own convictions, investing the time, the money and the energy, considering the abandonment of personal career ambition to be a price worth paying for the good of their children.
It has been the American way since the founding. Even state laws ordering compulsory education have routinely been interpreted to be satisfied by homeschooling as surely as by any privately funded institution such as a parochial school. Long before anyone advocated that parents take back their taxes paid for education in the form of vouchers for “school choice,” government at all levels in the US respected a parent’s right to determine where a child would receive an education.
The right of a parent to determine where a child receives his education is under attack. In fact, the very definitions of parent and family are under assault, and with that assault comes an assault on the rights of parents to assure the inculcation of their religious convictions. Parents whose religious convictions define family as being built on a heterosexual union and its offspring do not want their children confused by being told that two men can be parents of one or more children, all living together as a family. They do not want their children to be taught how homosexual sex is practiced, and they do not want their children to be told to experiment with their gender identity and their sexual orientation. All these things are part of public education in the USA today.
Parents in the US are accustomed to believe that their right to homeschool their children is one of their rights as parents. It is just normal for parents to make the decisions about the education of their children. They also are accustomed to believe that if their decision is based on their religious convictions they are protected in their right to express those convictions in the education of their children. Even the Supreme Court has ruled that the right of free expression of religion protected by the First Amendment is an individual right that parents can claim as individuals rearing their children.
The Justice Department of the USA recently issued a statement that puts parental rights to homeschool at risk, no matter what the reason is behind their choice. In the case Romeike v. Holder, where a German couple is seeking asylum in the USA because the government of Germany will not permit them to exercise their religious convictions by homeschooling their child, the Justice Department argues that “Germany did not violate the Romeike’s human rights because the ban on homeschooling is a ban for all, not any specific group. Since German law does not prevent, for instance, only evangelical Christians from homeschooling, the Romeike’s are not being persecuted for a religious reason.” The fact that this universal ban directly suppresses their right to express their religion does not seem to matter to the US Justice Department.
The government of the USA is steadily increasing the pressure to abandon many traditional values that this culture has upheld since the founding of the nation. The definitions of family, marriage and even religious liberty are being reworked to conform to an obviously secular standard. If the culture were truly dominated by secular thinking, and if the dominant definitions were at odds with religious teaching while the Constitution retained its protections for freedom of religious expression, Christians and adherents of other religions that reject the definitions of family and marriage that grow out of secular issues such as sexual orientation and gender identity then there would be much less cultural stress. However, as the definitions associated with the most fundament institution of human culture are being rewritten, the culture is also shredding the Constitution in practice, even though the document is hauled out regularly for dissection.
This problem is not uniquely a problem for Christians. Contrary to a great deal of politicalspeak, the men who founded the United States of America were quite aware that the country had already become a melting pot of ethnicities and religions, even in 1789. They wrote the Constitution to protect freedom that they considered to be integral to being human. The Constitution is anything but the bigoted, selfish fortress of privilege alleged by much contemporary politicalspeak. The Constitution respects human beings and respects both their right and their ability to govern their own lives with minimal interference from government. The Constitution assumes that government is a necessary evil, best kept within tight boundaries to prevent it from running rampant over fundamental human rights or from plundering the productivity of citizens. Parents who believe they have rights today must speak up for them and insist that they be recognized for all parents, including immigrants who flee from other governments that deny the rights of parents so that the state can inculcate worship and reverence for the state. The Constitution protects the right of every citizen to choose whom he (or she) will worship.
The Obama Justice Department appears to believe that both the right of parents to educate their children and the right of freedom of religious expression have been cancelled. Will they next remove the word parent from the vocabulary and simply make the state the source of all power over children?
6 thoughts on “Is There Liberty for All?”
just another example of why i say we are already living under a sociail/democratic dictatorship and have been for some time. the obama administration is just more open and ‘honest'(?) about their hatred for God and the religious freedoms.
we can thank Lincoln’s War with the States for changing our country from a Free Republic of United States to a Nation of Citizen/subjects to the ‘State’ called the “United States”
Hmmm.You make a good point. Lincoln’s contention that the union freely entered could not be freely dissolved changed the fundamental premise of our nation of states. John Adams was once asked his country of citizenship. He replied, “Massachusetts.” This statement was made as a colonist, but it reflects his viewpoint, and the viewpoint of the founders, that the colonies were actual states in the sense that France and China are states — sovereign and autonomous. The design of the Constitution reflects that view, in that it pulls only a few specific powers away from the states to the federal government. The political philosophy that now calls itself “progressive” is actually “oppressive” because it reduces the sovereign, autonomous states to mere departments within the federal hierarchy.
“Progressive” say that they believe in religious liberty, and sometimes they give away their interpretation of that concept by saying “freedom of worship.” They do not believe that the teachings of religion have any standing in “real” life. That explains the definition of “religious employer” in the regulations implementing the Affordable Care act. That definition confines their understanding of an obligation to live the teachings to those who teach the teachings, namely houses of worship. For Barack Obama, and for his fellow progressives, the idea of actually doing what Jesus said in everyday life is an attack on all the other religions. I have been called a sociopath because I advocate that people live their faith. That is all the Reimers, now refugees from Germany, wanted to do: live their faith. If progressive politcs is allowed to re-interpret the First Amendment, we will all be looking for somewhere to find refuge.
You post some very interesting topics.
My wife and I made the choice to homeschool our son. It was difficult, having only one paycheck to cover everything, but it was worth it to give him a solid education where God didn’t magically disappear from history.
I drive a school bus now, and while I love it, I tend to learn some things that reinforce why it was such a good idea to homeschool Adam. One of the high school students told me that her science teacher was telling the class how the next one hundred years was going to be amazing. That, we will colonize Mars, and because of that, our human evolution will move forword more rapidly. The teacher was only sad because they would not be around to witness what humans would begin to look like.
That, on top of hedonism, homosexuality, atheism, among other things, is what our wonderful public schools call a solid education.
You are so correct. I have asked a few evolution believers why they think humans have not already evolved into something better, and the response is usually blank stares or some reference to Neanderthals. May God continue to provide for you and your wife to give your son an education in truth.
I appreciate the prayer, but our son is grown and now married himself. He is talking about him and his wife taking up the mantle and homeschooling their child, God willing, when they have one. 🙂
Then please pass this prayer along for him! 🙂
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