A2Z Homeschool – Ann's Blog

Homeschooling From Ann's Perspective

Kids Learn Well At Home Because

August23

It is almost impossible to fall “behind” the public schools! Do realize that at school the kids are likely to be on task only two hours a day at most! And many are just good at playing the game, or have stopped playing altogether.

Kids do well at home because:

More on Planning a Custom Education

posted under Masters of Home Education | Comments Off on Kids Learn Well At Home Because

Reconstruction Theology and Home Education

June16

by Mary McCarthy

Quote from Christian Reconstructionist, Gary North

“The stranger in ancient Israel did not serve as a judge, although he received all the benefits of living in the land. The political question is this: By what biblical standard is the pagan to be granted the right to bring political sanctions against God’s people? We recognize that unbelievers are not to vote in Church elections. Why should they be allowed to vote in civil elections in a covenanted Christian nation? Which judicial standards will they impose? By what other standard than the Bible?”

~ Gary North of Institute For Christian Economics

BACKGROUND ON CHRISTIAN RECONSTRUCTIONISM

To more clearly understand the increasing divisiveness in homeschooling and the various leaders involvement in a political religion, it is necessary to become familiar with some of the facets of Christian theology and theocracy.

“Theocracy, the direct rule of a nation by God through divinely selected spokesmen, has many exemplars in the modern world. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq are nations with obvious theocratic tendencies. Israel’s political parties exhibit growing theocratic patterns. In the United States, the Christian Reconstruction movement proposes the purest form of theocracy. Reconstructionism…believes that the law given for the political and legal ordering of ancient Israel is intended for all people at all times; therefore American is duty bound to install a political system based entirely on biblical law.”

Reconstructionist theologian David Barton offered this definition: “The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics, in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God’s law.”

The term ‘dominion theology’ comes from Genesis 1:26-28 of the Bible where God’s purpose for man is stated: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image…And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (RSV)

Sometimes termed ‘dominion’ or ‘kingdom’ theology, “dominionism revolves around the idea that Christians and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns. An earlier source of dominion theology was an evangelical philosopher named Francis Schaeffer…Schaeffer’s 1981 book, A Christian Manifesto…remained one of the Christian Right’s most important texts into the 1990’s.”

“Individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and ecclesiastical communions are influenced by and committed to these ideals, from conservative Roman Catholics to Episcopalians to Presbyterians to Pentecostals, Arminian and Calvinist, charismatic and non-charismatic, high Church and low Church traditions are all represented in the broader umbrella of Reconstructionism, (often in the form of the ‘Christian America’ movement).”

Many of the leaders of the so-called hard or Christian Right are followers of the teachings of Rousas John Rushdoony. R.J. Rushdoony is the spiritual leader of Chalcedon Foundation, a California organization dedicated to Christian Reconstruction. According to the Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist is a Calvinist, holding to the principles that God, not man, is the center of the universe and beyond; a Theonomist, believing that God’s law is found in the Bible; a Presuppositionalist, believing that he holds to the Faith because the Bible says so and has no need to prove it; a Postmillennialist believing that Christ will return to earth only after the Holy Spirit has empowered the church to advance Christ’s kingdom in time and history and a Dominionist taking seriously the Bible’s commandment to the godly to take dominion in the earth. “The Christian Reconstructionist believes the earth and all it’s fullness is the Lord’s; that every area dominated by sin must be ‘reconstructed’ in terms of the Bible. This includes, first, the individual; second, the family; third, the church; and fourth, the wider society including the state.”

The Dominion theology movement places Judeo-Christian biblical law above any and all constitutional law, including the U.S. Constitution. “Postmillienialists believe that righteous human beings, essentially servants of Christ, must achieve positions of influence in societies in order to prepare the world for the Messiah’s return.”

In his excellent 1996 book, With God on Our Side, William Martin used a sampling of the views of several noted Reconstructionists to give a sense of how a Reconstructed America would be: “The federal government would play no role in regulating business, public education, or welfare…[S]ome government would be visible at the level of counties…but citizens would be answerable to church authorities on most matters subject to regulation…income taxes would not exceed ten percent – the biblical tithe – and social security would disappear…[P]ublic schools would be abolished in favor of home-schooling arrangements, and families would operate on a strict patriarchal pattern. The only people permitted to vote would be members of ‘biblically correct’ churches. Most notably, a theonomic order would make homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, propagation of false doctrine, and incorrigible behavior by disobedient children subject to the death penalty, preferably administered by stoning…a reconstructed America would have little room for Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, or even non-Reconstructionist Christians. ‘The Christian’, one Reconstructionist author has asserted, ‘must realize that pluralism is a myth…R.J. Rushdoony, also regards pluralism as a heresy, since, in the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions.”

Other noted Reconstructionists include Greg Bahnson, David Barton of WallBuilders, Inc., David Chilton, Gary DeMar of American Vision and Worldview Magazine; Ted DeMoss of Christian Business Men’s Committee; Kenneth Gentry, Jay Grimstead of Coalition on Revival; James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church; Tim LaHaye of American Coalition for Traditional Values; Mrs. Connie Marshner of Free Congress Foundation; Rev. Joseph Morecraft; Gary North of Institute for Christian Economics; Mark Siljander of Global Strategies, Inc.; Randall Terry of Operation Rescue and Rev. Donald Wildmon of American Family Association. Dr. Kennedy, Rev. LaHaye, Mrs. Marshner, Mr. North, R.J. Rushdoony, and Rev. Wildmon are all members of the Council For National Policy.

“Whether it is acknowledged or not, Reconstructionism has profoundly influenced the Christian Right. Perhaps its most important role within the Christian Right can be traced to the formation in 1982 of the Coalition on Revival (COR)…Founded and headed by Dr. Jay Grimstead, COR has sought in this way to create a transdenominational theology…The COR leadership has significantly overlapped with the Christian Right, and has included: John Whitehead, Don Wildmon…Tim LaHaye and D. James Kennedy, Randall Terry…Steven Hotze, Rev. Glen Cole…Michael Farris…Robert Dugan…Bill Dannemeyer…Mark Siljander…R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Joseph Moorecraft, David Chilton, Gary DeMar… and Rus Walton.”

CHRISTIAN RECONSTRUCTIONISM AND HOMESCHOOLING

It is difficult for secular homeschoolers to understand the apparent double standard when Christian homeschoolers are discriminatory against them at the local support group level, while at the same time, courting their efforts when it comes to state or national political causes. Understanding Reconstructionist Theology and Theocracy is important because it reflects understanding on the division in the homeschooling community between secular and religious members, and the theocratic motivations of politically manipulating the community.

Gary North declared, “All long-term social change comes from the successful efforts of one or another struggling organizations to capture the minds of a hard core of future leaders.”

Reconstructionists believe that Christian schools and the homeschooling movement are the key to capturing those minds. Joseph Moorecraft said in 1987, that the Reconstruction movement was made up of a small number but expected a massive acceleration in 25 to 30 years ‘when those kids that are now in Christian schools have graduated and taken their places in American society, and moved into places of influence and power.’

It’s interesting to note that Reconstructionist Jay Rogers wrote, ” A little known fact: R. J Rushdoony, aside from being the founder of Christian Reconstruction, is also the founder of the modern home schooling movement. Most people who deride the Reconstructionist movement for being ‘too political’ don’t realize that.” This declaration completely ignores the work of secular writers, such as John Holt, who promoted homeschooling as an alternative in the 1970’s and ’80’s.

When it comes to politics, the principles are simple: “The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant–baptism and Holy Communion–must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel.”

“Gary North claims that ‘the ideas of the Reconstructionists have penetrated into Protestant circles that for the most part are unaware of the original source of the theological ideas that are beginning to transform them.’ North describes the ‘three major legs of the Reconstructionist movement’ as ‘the Presbyterian oriented educators, the Baptist school headmasters and pastors, and the charismatic telecommunications system.’ What this means is that hundreds of thousands of Pentecostals and charismatic Christians, as well as many fundamentalist Baptists, have moved out of the apolitical camp. Many have thrown themselves into political work – not merely as voters, but as ideologically driven activists, bringing a reconstructed ‘Biblical world view’ to bear on their area of activism.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association/Foundation has many links to Reconstructionism. In his well-researched 1995 book, Home Schooling: The Right Choice, HSLDA attorney Christopher Klicka frequently quotes Reconstructionst writers, notably Rushdoony and Barton. In addition to including Rushdoony’s “The Difference Between Christian Education and Humanistic Education”, the book’s forward was written by D. James Kennedy and many of the ideals expressed seem Reconstructionist, however, he does not state specifically that he is a Reconstructionist.

The relationship between President Michael Farris of HSLDA and Tim and Beverly LaHaye goes back to the early 1980’s when Michael Farris was head of the legal department of Concerned Women for America. Tim LaHaye was attempting to start a television ministry that failed. In 1983 he started the American Coalition for Traditional Values which was similar to the now defunct Moral Majority, its goal being to mobilize Christians to register and vote. Some accounts indicate Michael Farris was deeply involved with ACTV while others do not mention his involvement. ACTV closed down shortly after the 1986 elections. Tim LaHaye withdrew from his television ministry when it was publicized that his church was funding an anti-Catholic group. In 1985 he further withdrew after it became known that CWA had accepted ‘generous help’ from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church which teaches the divinity of the Rev. Moon in direct conflict with Christian teachings. In 1987 Rev. LaHaye was forced to resign as co-chair from Jack Kemp’s presidential campaign because newspapers printed divisive passages from his writings, which were anti-catholic and anti-Semetic.

The New York Times profiled Michael Farris’ campaign for Lt. Governor of Virginia as part of a series of articles about Christians in politics. It is noted that Michael Farris’ name appeared as a co-author of a policy paper by Jay Grimstead’s “Coalition on Revival, which has called for the United States to reclaim itself as a ‘Christian nation.’ (Farris says that he only worked on an early draft of the document and that the organization included his name without his permission.)”

Farris’s name appears among ninety-seven Christian intellectuals who signed the Coalition for Revival’s 1986 ‘manifesto’ which declares, “We believe America can be turned around and once again function as a

Christian nation as it did in it’s earlier years. The document lists Farris and…Virginia C. Armstrong as co-authors of the section entitled ‘The Christian World View of the Law,’ which states, ‘We affirm that a society must inevitably choose between conflicting legal foundations and views of law and should choose Christian views and a Christian foundation because the Christian system is vastly superior to all alternatives.” Farris denies ever signing the document or co-writing the section on a Christian view of the law although Armstrong recalls that she and Farris wrote different parts of the section and “he certainly seemed to be in general agreement” of the finished version.

Michael Farris, in his 1992 book, Where Do I Draw The Line?, addressed Reconstructionism. He quotes Francis Shaeffer’s Christian Manifesto to explain our nation’s slide into its current cultural condition but he also takes an opportunity to note that, “there are those who advocate the idea that America should enact the Old Testament law right down to the rules for conducting trials. I am not one of those people but I do believe the moral principles of God apply to every age.”

However, when discussing classical education in The Future of Home Schooling, he recommends as “one of the best programs I have seen that offers a clearly Christian classical education is David Quine’s World Views of the Western World…World Views is a three-year program that is built largely around the works of Francis Schaeffer. Students still read Homer, Socrates and Machiavelli. But these are balanced not only by Schaeffer’s works, but also by St. Augustine, Luther and Calvin.”

As homeschoolers we should be very careful not to assign guilt by association. It is probable that some of the individuals involved in homeschooling and/or HSLDA are Reconstructionists, while others who associate with them are not. Prominent Reconstructionists are often given a forum to advance their cause at HSLDA conferences but it is unknown whether HSLDA itself is a Reconstructionist organization. HSLDA has ties to the Reconstructionist movement through former employees such as attorney Doug Phillips, the son of prominent Reconstructionist Howard Phillips, founder of the U.S. Taxpayers Party and HSLDA founder James Carden who was instrumental in introducing the concept of home schooling to Bill Gothard of Advanced Training Institute of America, himself a prominent Reconstructionist. Carden was among the 100 families who piloted the ATIA program in 1984/85. Board member Jeff Ethell may have been influenced by Reconstruction ideas while a student at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, where noted Reconstructionist Cornelius Van Til taught for nearly 50 years. In his 1959 book, R.J. Rushdoony lavishly praised Van Til’s philosophy and the influence it had on him.

Christopher Klicka attended Regent University where ‘longtime Dean of the Law School, Herb Titus…used Rushoony’s book in his introductory law course… “Christopher Klicka, who has been deeply influenced by R.J. Rushdoony, writes: ‘Sending our children to the public school violates nearly every Biblical principle…It is tantamount to sending our children to be trained by the enemy’…Klicka also advocates religious selfsegregation and advises Christians not to affiliate with non-Christian homeschoolers in any way. ‘The differences I am talking about…have resulted in wars and martyrdom in the not too distant past.’ According to Klicka, who is an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, ‘as an organization, and as individuals, we are committed to promote the cause of Christ and his Kingdom.”

Former HSLDA employee Inge Cannon was previously employed by Bill Gothard’s Institute of Basic Life Principles where she was involved with the development of ATIA’s homeschool curriculum. Several of HSLDA’s interns come from or plan to attend Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy which is part of Bill Gothard’s ATIA. Also, Tim LaHaye, considered to be a prominent Reconstructionist, is associated with Michael Farris’ political action committee, Madison Project Fund Inc., as well as having ties to him through Concerned Women for America. Many of the ideals, particularly exclusivism and selfsegregation as promoted by prominent Christian homeschooling leaders like Christopher Klicka and Gregg Harris, are Reconstructionist in nature. As homeschoolers we must be careful when examining the religious motivations of our fellow homeschoolers not to attach labels which may not be appropriate. However, it would be more honest of HSLDA and others to define their belief status when placing themselves in positions of moral authority over homeschoolers, who are perhaps of other, contrary, beliefs.

NOTES:

  1. Gary North, “Westminster’s Confession: The Abandonment of Van Til’s Legacy”, Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian
    Economics, 1991, p. 227.
  2. Derek H. Davis, “Religious Pluralism and the Quest for Unity in American Life”, Journal of Church & State, Spring 1994,
    Vol. 36, Issue 2, page 245.
  3. Frederick Clarkson, “Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence”, The Public Eye, March and June 1994.
  4. Sara Diamond, Roads to Dominion, Guilford Press, 1995, page 246.
  5. J. Ligon Duncan III, Moses’ Law for Modern Government: The Intellectual and Sociological Origins of the Christian
    Reconstructionist Movement, Atlanta Georgia, October 15, 1994.
  6. Rev. Andrew Sandlin, “The Creed of Christian Reconstruction”, Chalcedon Foundation
  7. Alec Foege, The Empire God Built – Inside Pat Robertson’s Media Machine, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996), page
    176.
  8. William Martin, With God On Our Side, (New York: Broadway Books, 1996), page 353-354.
  9. PRO-S.O.C.S. (Separation of Church and State), “The Righteous Revolution: Could there be a theocracy in America’s
    future?”, 1996.
  10. Sara Diamond, “Dominion Theology: The Truth About the Christian Right’s Bid for Power”.
  11. “Council For National Policy Membership List”, Institute for First Amendment Studies.
  12. Frederick Clarkson, “Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence”, The Public Eye, March and June 1994.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Jay Rogers, What is Theonomy?, http://www.forerunner.com/theonomy/theofaq.html, no date. Theonomy means “God’s law”.
  15. Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), p. 87.
  16. Frederick Clarkson, “Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence,” The Public Eye, March and June 1994.
  17. Stephen Bates, Battleground, New York: Henry Holt, 1993, page 105.
  18. William Martin, With God On Our Side, New York: Broadway Books, 1996, page 270.
  19. Stephen Bates, op. cit.
  20. Leslie Kaufman, “Life Beyond God,” New York Times Magazine, October 16, 1994.
  21. Michael Farris, Where Do I Draw The Line?, Minnesota: Bethany House, 1992, page 15.
  22. Rozell and Wilcox Second Coming The New Christian Right in Virginia Politics, Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University
    Press, 1996, page 100-101.
  23. Where do I Draw The Line? Op cit, page 25.
  24. Michael Farris, The Future of Home Schooling, Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 1997, page 16.
  25. “In Memoriam”, Home School Court Report, Vol. 13, No. 3, May/June 97, page 10.
  26. Bruce Barron, Heaven On Earth? The Social and Political Agenda of Dominion Theology, Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan,
    1992, pages 37, 39.
  27. Frederick Clarkson:, Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence, Part 3: No Longer Without Sheep.

© 1999 Mary H. McCarthy
Home School Legal Research Alliance

posted under Masters of Home Education | Comments Off on Reconstruction Theology and Home Education

Starting a Homeschool Support Group

June16

by Holly Furgason

Why should we even bother with homeschool support groups? I found there are several benefits:

To get group discounts!
Seems like a simple reason but it has been quite beneficial to have a $10 ice skating fee reduced to $3- quite a savings when you have six people to pay for! And in the world of institutionalized schooling sometimes the only way to have access to some educational field trips is to be an organized group.

To network with other families!
What better way to find other homeschool families that share your interests than to meet with lots of them on a regular basis?

To disseminate information!
Groups are a great way to share information about homeschooling, events, resources and ideas. Although I’m not a believer in “panic alerts”, there are times when homeschoolers need to know what’s going on at the state and national level. Not everyone agrees with what we’re doing and if we want to keep things as they are we need to keep watch. Since not everyone is interested in politics, those that are have a way to give a quick “heads up!”

To share resources!
Books, experience, materials and encouragement not to mention the opportunity to get together with those who understand what your life is like can be a valuable part of of homeschooling.

Groups can be as simple or as complicated as you want. HUG had a fairly simple structure which fit our personalities, the way we homeschooled and met our needs. Here are the basic steps to starting a simple group:

Decide what you want out of the group.
Some people are looking for an opportunity to meet with other homeschool families, some would like a very organized group to plan all kinds of activities from field trips to sports leagues to achievement banquets, some need support for a particular learning/teaching method and some are looking to organize themselves politically. Any reason is fine. If you have a need that a group can fill, chances are others out there will too. There should be different groups for different reasons and no one should feel as though one group will meet all their needs.

Decide on a place to meet.
This could be your home, a local park, a church, community center, business or any number of places. If your meeting is going to include the kids make sure there is adequet room for them to play and things with which to play. Call around and see what you can find. Be bold since the most they can do is say “no”! You may want to consider other needs such as bathrooms (a must!), tables, chairs etc.

Choose a time.
This can be difficult until you have the meeting place established. The most important thing about choosing a time is to remember that you can’t set a convient time for everyone! Set one that is reasonable and convient for you since you will need to be there and as time passes people will work out conflicts in their schedules if they want to. Don’t change the meeting often or for light reasons. This will only confuse people.

Set up a structure.
This is where it can get complicated. Your group’s structure is going to depend a lot on the reason for you group. If the group is very informal and social you may just need volunteers to remind members of meetings, confirm the meeting place every month and perhaps get people to bring snacks.

If you are looking to have something more complicated then you may need to write by-laws which will spell out a missions statement, various positions in the group and the selection process, dues and possibly even membership requirements. If your group wishes to become a non-profit educational corporation, the best thing to do is consult an attorney.

When I started HUG all I wanted was to get together with other families and let the kids play. I had decided that even if no one showed up, my children would have an afternoon at the park. It turned out that we were never the only ones there since many other people were looking for the same experience. We had over 125 families! [The group no longer exists. Kids got older!] How many families need what you have to offer?

posted under Masters of Home Education | Comments Off on Starting a Homeschool Support Group

Media Guidelines

June16

by Holly Furgason

Before the interview

  1. Have a list of members who are willing to be interviewed and/or filmed in their homes. The media wants to see homeschooling. They are often on a deadline and need to visit someone NOW.
  2. Prepare a press kit so that the reporter has something to refer to later on.
  3. If children are going to be involved, prepare them before hand. Make sure that it’s okay with them. Don’t “coach” their answers but let them know what’s going to happen including filming, answering questions and showing the reporter some of their work or projects.
  4. Be on time and ready. Reporters work on tight deadlines. Ask how much time will be alloted for the interview.
  5. Always ask for a pre-interview. This is a common practice and won’t offend the reporter. Find out what topics will be covered and what types of questions will be asked.
  6. Always reserve the right to rebuttal. It’s important to be able to answer detractors’ allegations before the piece is made public.
  7. Dress appropriately. Wear clothes that are simple yet well tailored; makeup for women should be natural colors. For television avoid excessive jewelry, extreme styles or busy patterns. They can distract viewers away from what you have say.

  8. Before taping for television or radio, turn off all phones and place a sign on the door if you have frequent drop in visitors (i.e. neighborhood kids). For television check the background for questionable objects (dead plants, your copy of the “Communist Manifesto”…just joking!)

During the interview

  1. Kids come first! Let them act naturally and particpate in the interview as they feel comfortable. If the reporter makes the children feel uncomfortable for any reason, ask that the camera/recorder be turned off and then explain your concerns. Only agree to continue if things are worked out to your satisfaction.
  2. Maintain a professional demeanor. Keep your voice modulated and think before you answer questions.
  3. NEVER assume you are off record! If you want to say something that you don’t want to be made public, specifically tell the reporter it is off record.
  4. Stick to your own area of expertise and experience. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into other areas. Refer the reporter to someone who may be able to help answer any questions outside your area.
  5. Keep your answers short. Prepare “sound bites” for typical questions (and we all know what those are!). The shorter and more precise the answer the less chance there is of being misquoted.
  6. Have a point to make and use the questions to get your point across.
  7. Phrase your answers so that are stated positively. For example: when you are asked why you homeschool you should answer with something like, “Because I really love being with my children and learning with them” instead of “The public schools stink!”
  8. If you don’t know something say so.
  9. NEVER lie to a reporter! It’s better to give no information than slanted information.
  10. Avoid homeschooling terms that are not well known. You force the reporter to become an interpreter and set yourself up for misquotes.
  11. If you make a mistake, correct it as soon as you realize it. It’s easier to go back than to try to get a retraction or correction later on.

  12. Be yourself and try to relax. Use your everyday speech. This is not the time to up grade your vocabulary. You’re doing a great job homeschooling and you want them to know it!

More Resources

posted under Masters of Home Education | Comments Off on Media Guidelines