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A Clarion Call for Christian Isolationism

Scott on November 1, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Now that Ingrid Schlueter is back posting at Slice of Laodicea, we are being treated to a classic example of her “us -vs- them” mentality. This time, she is advocating a wholesale withdrawal from the public education school system. This clarion call of isolationism was prompted when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two bills aimed at dealing with issues connected to sexual orientation, sexual preference, etc.

In no way am I endorsing these two bills (SB 777 and AB 394). According to the Canadian Free Press:

SB 777 prohibits any “instruction” or school- sponsored “activity” that “promotes a discriminatory bias” against “gender” (the bill’s definition includes cross-dressing and sex changes) and “sexual orientation” (the bill’s definition includes bisexuality). Because no textbook or instruction in California public schools currently disparages transsexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality, the practical effect of SB 777 will be to require positive portrayals of these sexual lifestyles at every government-operated school. Otherwise, “discriminatory” schools will be subject to intimidation and lawsuits by the State Department of Education.

Now, in case Ingrid or one of her cohorts happen to read this post, let me prevent them from misconstruing what I am saying by being perfectly clear: I am IN NO WAY endorsing these two bills or what they stand for. I am not in favor of the homosexual agenda in any way shape or form.

That being said, I am taking a stand against the way of thinking exhibited by Ms. Schlueter and those like her. According to Ingrid:

Sending our Christian children to the atheists, the evolutionists, the activists who seek acceptance of sexual perversity is simply wrong.

If Ingrid spent any time in a public school classroom or spent time speaking with a cross-section of public school teachers, she would discover the following:

1) There are very few teachers who are atheists, and those who are don’t tend to be vocal about it. Unless they are teaching something like science, the curriculum doesn’t provide much leeway to spread the “anti-gospel.”

2) There are definitely more evolutionists than there are atheists, but even those are few in number. As with the small numbers who are atheists, unless they are teaching science there isn’t much room to spread the “evolutionary word” in Math, Science and History. (In fact, I have encountered many more theistic evolutionists in my time teaching than I have atheistic evolutionists. I know that Ingrid doesn’t believe that theistic evolution is even a consideration. I’m just saying…)

3) In terms of activism, the majority of teachers in the public schools are NOT activist about anything. They simply want to be good teachers. And those who ARE activists tend to focus their activism on union issues like pension, health benefits and salary. There are few open homosexuals in the teaching profession. The few who are openly gay do probably tend to be more activist-oriented, but they do more harm to their cause then good by being very over-the-top and “unsubtle” in the absurdity of their positions.

Again, to be clear isn’t that I am saying that there are no atheists, evolutionists, activists or homosexuals. I am saying that if you could pull together hard data you would find that all together these types of teachers add up to less than 5% of the entire profession. Though what I am presenting here is certainly anecdotal, I would bet that many of the teachers who frequent this blog would back me up on what I am saying.

Ingrid goes further and adds:

The idiotic idea that our kindergarteners will go off and be “salt and light” to their lesbian teachers is finally being exposed for what it is.

What’s odd about this is that her admonition against what she claims is idiotic seems to fall apart in light of Christ’s words in Matthew 5:13-16 which she alludes to:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Ingrid sets up a strawman with the whole idea of kindergarteners going off to be salt and light to their lesbian teachers. To the best of my knowledge, nobody is advocating sending a kindergartener in to debate their teacher regarding issues of sexual orientation, evolution, atheism, etc. Ingrid is just being disingenuous.

She further tries to muddy the waters with this outrageous image:

No Israelite general in his right mind would have sent off a regiment of little children to face the Assyrian army.

While she is stating the obvious, she is doing so while trying to make an emotional connection by making an analogy between the violence and brutality of battle and the collision of ideas and morality within the classroom. As she does this, she seems to have forgotten about a Biblical example of a boy who was, indeed, sent in to battle and with a giant no less:

I Samuel 17:4-7 & 12-14
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels

Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was old and well advanced in years. Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. David was the youngest.

As often happens with Ingrid, she seems to have supplanted God’s wisdom with her own. I guess if she had been calling the shots back in the days of Israel, she would have made sure that little David was in his father’s tent “being nurtured.” I guess God sucked as the chief general of the Israelite army.

Obviously it is essential that Christian children be raised with as much training as possible in the things of the faith. I have nothing against Christian schools in general. In fact, I attended an amazing Christian school in Seattle, WA that competed with the most rigorous private prep schools in the area. I also have nothing against home schooling. I have known some very academically astute home-schooled students over the years.

Unfortunately, the really solid Christian schools and the really solid home-schooled students are few and far between. Many Christian schools are weak academically and use substandard curriculum that is cheaper and/or that has been created by Christians who aren’t educators and/or who try to sanitize the curriculum in an effort to Christianize the subject matter. Many (if not most) parents who home-school their children end up as lazy teachers, which in turn promotes rote-learning and not critical thinking in their children. Ingrid seems very excited about her son’s curriculum as she says:

My son has delightful, master teachers and a rigorous curriculum, and I don’t have to do the teaching. He has a laptop where he watches his DVD teacher, and then he does his homework for the subject.

What kills me is the “ and I don’t have to do the teaching.” The problem here is that a curriculum can’t be rigorous if there is no actual face-to-face engagement with a knowledgeable teacher or an engaged parent. THAT is what teaching is all about! Sure, there can be information that is presented in an engaging way with cool graphics, music, etc. But besides just rote learning, how is he developing critical thinking? What kind of discussions is he having with the DVD? How can the DVD take him further/deeper into the curriculum by asking him follow-up questions based on answers to questions he has presented and come up with on his own?

I’m sure Ingrid would agree that it is her job as the parent to take things to the next level, but most parents don’t and wouldn’t know how to even if they wanted to. And Ingrid’s comment seems to indicate that she doesn’t take things that far, either. Based on how Ingrid conducts herself at Slice, I’m willing to bet that discussions between her and her son would be pretty one-sided, with her guiding him to the “right” answer and him wanting to give her what he knows she wants. Honestly, that may not be a fair characterization but the way she conducts herself at Slice speaks volumes.

I can’t tell you the number of home-schooled students I’ve had over the years who come into the “public school” classroom after years at home. The vast majority of the time these students can’t carry on a discussion. They aren’t able to see both sides of an argument. They can’t engage in dialogue and in taking their thoughts and ideas to the next, deeper level. Their critical thinking skills are weak and their logic is almost non-existent, mainly because they have been fed a one-sided, one-position, one note stream of curriculum that doesn’t offer any subtlety or nuance or any variety in shades of meaning.

Besides all of this, since when has God ever called for removing ourselves from the world? “In the world but not of the world” isn’t just a cute little catch phrase. Though the sentiment has become cheesy over the years, it is still true: Sometimes, you’re the only Jesus some will ever see. The kindergarten child that Ingrid alluded to earlier may not be in the position to deal with the teacher (maybe lesbian but most likely not), but the parents of the kindergartener sure are in the position to engage that teacher over the course of the year and during the time their child attends the school. Parents have a tremendous amount of influence in schools and in the classroom, and the more involved the parents are the more weight they carry at the school.

What Ingrid is advocating virtually guarantees that Christian parents will have no influence in ANY public classroom anywhere. Their voices and their views will never be represented. She is forgetting that the families who are not Christian STILL benefit from the influence of Christian families because it is the families of faith who ensure that craziness like “Steve has 2 Daddies” isn’t the norm in education. It is the families of faith who stand up against the Governor of California and say “This isn’t right.” If Christian families across the nation have pulled their children out of the public schools, how likely are they to get involved in this current SB 777 / AB384 fight or other fights like this across the country? Not very. Why should they get involved when they don’t have a dog in the fight?

In the church we attend we talk about our calling to be the “conduit of blessing” to the world. This touches on the idea that as the Lord shines His light in us and through us, we then send out His light into the world. We befriend. We touch. We minister. We play. We serve. We go. We do. Jesus’ charge in Matthew isn’t an abstract concept. It is framed in the real world setting of the Be Attitudes…how we are to conduct ourselves as we live our lives and how we are to treat our friends and family and co-workers and enemies. How can we be a conduit of blessing to the world when we have withdrawn from it? How can we be a conduit of blessing into the schools, a conductor of the light and love and grace of God, if we never show up there in the first place?

(PLEASE NOTE: In the name of full disclosure, I will say that our two youngest began attending a Christian school this year for various reasons, though they will attend public high school when the time comes (as does our oldest child now). We were not motivated out of a fear of our children being tainted by the world. We do our best to both educate them and inform them regarding things of the faith. We discuss the Bible. We pray. We engage them in discussions about how the Christian faith should look in “the real world.” We do the best we can. But at the same time, having attended a fantastic Christian school in Seattle I wanted our kids to have the same opportunity for a quality education colored by a set of close relationships with other students and with teachers. I wanted them to be able to have a rigorous curriculum that also approached life from a faith perspective. I also appreciated that they would interact with a great Bible curriculum that wasn’t just fluff. This was especially exciting for me when thinking about our middle child who is especially sensitive and “in tune” with the things of the Spirit. Also, our youngest child has some other issues that could be better addressed in a small school/private setting than they could in the public school.)

I think that in the end Ingrid is so afraid of being tainted, of having her view of the world challenged in any way, that she thinks that is how all parents should feel about their children guard them, shelter them, keep them close and in the dark. I’ve seen too many times when that method of thinking leads to a reality shock when the guarded/sheltered/ignorant children have to interact with the real world (either in the work place or in college or somewhere else “out there”) and their hearts and minds and souls reel from the impact. Never having had to deal with the world in anything but abstract terms, they are almost defenseless as their sheltered upbringings never prepared them for how sly and seductive and enticing the world can be. Never having had to deal with the world in anything other than in abstract terms, they aren’t prepared for the eloquence of atheism and humanism or for the temptations of hedonism and ambition.

Obviously the public school system doesn’t prepare a Christian child in Christian terms for dealing with the world in the context of their faith. The Church and a Christian home does that. But at the same time, an educational experience carried out in seclusion and isolation rarely provides the type of rigorous mental, intellectual, social, psychological and philosophical workout that enables a child to grow into a man or woman of God who is able to stand in the middle of the maelstrom and cry out that God is their rock and their fortress and on Him alone do they stand.

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