Early in 2015 a Christian family in Norway was ripped apart because a public school principal complained that the children in the family were receiving “Christian indoctrination.” In 2013 the Republic of Tajikistan passed the “Parental Responsibility Law” which forbids children under the age of 18 from attending religious services other than funerals, although a child age seven or older may receive religious education if he asks his parents to teach him. In Sweden, since 2010, it is illegal to homeschool a child, and parents who defy the law risk the abduction of their children who are placed in temporary foster care with the ultimate goal of placing the children for adoption by a more compliant family. In Germany, a law passed during the Third Reich forbids children to be homeschooled, and the current German government aggressively enforces that law in the name of preventing “parallel societies” from springing up.
The message in these and other stories is that parents really have no right to tell their children how to grow up and prepare to be adults. The powerful message of such laws is that children belong to the state.
Sadly, the message of Common Core in the USA also is that children belong to the state. Parents have no input into Common Core, and when their states and/or their local school boards sign on to the Common Core curriculum, the parents are without a voice. Parents may try to speak up, but in most cases, the best they get is a nebulous choice to “opt out” of some things. However, schools are not above deceiving parents in order to avoid the “opt out.” In New York state, an event billed as an “anti-bullying” seminar featured a request by a teacher for two girls to experiment with a lesbian kiss, just so they would know whether they liked it. The parents had no opportunity to “opt out,” because they had no idea such a thing would be part of the agenda.
Many parents in the USA “opt out” of public school altogether, while others watch with eagle eyes to “opt out” of specific classroom sessions. The need for parents to opt out of objectionable presentations is an atrocity no municipality should ever visit on parents. Parents ought to have a bigger voice in local education. The very idea that the federal government has planted its very large boot in the middle of the local school systems is an abomination.
It is all about money, and it all started long ago. However, it is never too late to do the right thing, and the right thing for American families is to get the government out of the business of local education. Those who say that local education will suffer dramatically if the federal and state money for schools disappears need to take a look at what is being accomplished by homeschooling parents. Homeschool education costs a tiny fraction of the price of public schools, yet homeschooled children routinely perform at higher levels for their age than publicly educated children. It is an unfunny joke that many public school graduates cannot read their diplomas.
The problem that usually uproots homeschooling around the world is not, however, reading scores.
The problem that causes nanny states around the world to attack homeschooling parents is worldview. Many, many parents homeschool their children out of fear that public schools will brainwash their children to have a view of life where the government replaces God. They rightly suspect that socialist governments will teach children to look to government for provision for their needs and solutions to their problems. The Norwegian parents whose children were forcibly removed from the household simply wanted to teach their children the principles of their Christian faith. They were not even homeschooling their children. They were simply teaching their children the principles of their faith, just the way Moses instructed Israel to do when he was about to die. Moses said,
“These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Every government has its own way of identifying the problem with parents who teach their children to live by Christian principles. Some talk about parallel cultures. Some talk about the right of children to choose their religion for themselves when they are old enough. Some are fairly open about their agenda to suppress religion altogether in their countries.
The US is not exempt from the discussions. There are people in the US who believe children should never be exposed to any religion until they are “old enough to choose for themselves.” These parents, who claim to be Christians, saved from eternal death by the work of Christ on the cross to save them from their sins, choose not to share that blessing with their children. They may or may not attend church themselves, but they don’t think that forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life is important enough to tell their children about it. If political activists propose a law in the US like the one in Tajikistan, simply forbidding parents to “brainwash” their children about religion until they are 18, which must be the year in which children acquire the ability to “choose for themselves,” these parents will think it is a good thing. These parents will vote for the candidate who proposes such a law.
As long as celebrity scientists such as Richard Dawkins claim that the teaching of original sin is child abuse it will be difficult for Christians who believe that the Bible is true to defeat the momentum such statements create. It is not uncommon in the daily news to read that aggressive activists with political agendas call orthodox Christians “bigots” and “homophobes” for expressing their faith principles, and it is a short leap from those accusations to the allegation that Christians are perverting the minds of their children and preventing them from experiencing the joy of evolution by promoting the Neanderthal notion that humans are born sinful.
Children need to know about Jesus, because everyone needs to know about Jesus. Children need to know that they are born sinful, because everyone needs to know that humans are born sinful. Children need to know that Jesus died for their sins in order to forgive them for all their sins and open the door of heaven to them for eternity, because everyone needs to know the same thing.
In my church, we confess our sins every Sunday before we begin to worship. We know that in whatever time passed since the last time we confessed, we have doubted God, disobeyed God, even forgotten God. We need to confess our failings, our sins, and we need forgiveness, because guilt is a terminal condition that causes people to kill themselves. We confess our sins, our pastor declares our forgiveness because of Christ’s death and resurrection, and then he does a wonderful thing. He cries out in a loud voice, “Your sins are forgiven! The doors of heaven are open to you!”
Some people may think it is a bad thing for children to experience the sorrow of sinfulness, but Christian parents want their children to experience that sorrow in order that they may delight in the joy of the good news that “The doors of heaven are open to you!” Christian parents, all Christians, must be alert and assertive in order to assure that the USA continues to protect the right of Christian parents to teach their faith to their children. If Christian parents in the US allow that right to be destroyed, the consequences will be apocalyptic. Just ask Norwegian parents.