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Atheism, current events, Religion

More on Home Schooling

A judge in North Raleigh has ruled that a mother must stop home schooling her children and send them to public school.  An organized group of conservative Christians is calling for him to be removed from the case.  (We all know, of course, that judges are only fair if they rule the way we want them to.  Otherwise, they’re… what’s that called?  Activist judges.)  In preliminary statements, the judge made references to the childrens’ need to have exposure to peers.  Alan Keyes has weighed in on this notion:

“If his idea of socialization includes the need to challenge the Christian ideas their mother has taught them, then he not only interferes with her natural right to raise up her children, he tramples on one of the most important elements of the free exercise of religion.”

Before I make another point, I must comment on this emotionally appealing (and ultimately empty) statement.  The judge has not ruled that the mother may not teach her children the religion of her own choosing.  He has ruled that she must allow her children to be exposed to other teachings as well.  Furthermore, Mr. Keyes has used a buzzword that sounds nice but doesn’t carry much weight — natural.  Frequent readers of my blog will recognize that “natural” doesn’t really mean anything at all.  If it happens in the universe, it is a natural occurrence.  What Keyes is undoubtedly saying is that mothers have an inherent legal right, or perhaps a God given right to raise their children.  Of course, the United States Constitution doesn’t mention God given rights, so that shouldn’t be an issue.  (Don’t believe me?  Go HERE and search for “God.”)  As far as legal rights go, mothers also have an obligation to raise their children in ways that are not abusive, negligent, or otherwise unduly harmful.  There is a whole department of the government devoted to child welfare, and it often forcibly removes children from their mothers, nullifying their “natural right” to raise their children.

In case you’re wondering, the woman is a member of the Sound Doctrine Church.  Feel free to browse around the site.  It’s just another fundamentalist literalist church that mainline denominations would dismiss as cultish.  (In fact, they do.)

The mother has suggested that her children are doing fine in their studies, and that the husband is only bringing up the homeschooling to take emphasis away from his adultery.  This seems odd to me, since he admitted the adultery, apparently without objection.

Oh, and the grandfather of the children has filed an affadavit requesting that the mother be evaluated for mental competency, as he feels her involvement with the church has caused her potential mental damage.



11 thoughts on “More on Home Schooling

  1. …Y’know, something I’ve thought about:

    What does ‘freedom of religion’ mean, exactly? I mean, in technical terms, surely this would qualify as, ‘prohibiting the free exercise thereof’?

    I really you guys really need to take a good hard look at your first amendment and see if perhaps a small change is in order.

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | March 15, 2009, 12:35 am
  2. hannitybot was talking about this on his radio show I think Friday or Thursday. Said something to the effect that “They tested 2 grades higher! Why are judges getting involved!! ITS MADNESS!@#”

    Posted by mr804 | March 15, 2009, 12:36 am
  3. *really think, that is.

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | March 15, 2009, 12:41 am
  4. It’s ok, Kevin. I remember my first tequila shot… I feel your pain.

    It’s a solid point you make, though. Some people seem to be under the impression that freedom of religion somehow takes precedence over abiding by the law. The Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down various “religious freedoms” when they’ve directly contradicted laws. (Of course, they’ve also let certain religious groups have their drugs from time to time, so there doesn’t seem to be a completely clear line.

    If I were the one making the rules, I’d make it very simple. You can have freedom to practice your religion in any way you want, so long as it is within the law and doesn’t demand special treatment from the government in any way.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 15, 2009, 2:01 am
  5. Well, my ‘argument’ (if I were an absurdist fundamentalist) would then be, though:

    What did the mother do in the first place that is outside the law? If nothing, isn’t actually more or less fair – from a legal standpoint – to point at the first amendment and say, “Hey, why is the judge getting involved? This thingy written by very important people a long time ago says that you can’t prohibit me from freely excercizing my religion, and I’m not breaking any laws!”

    Obviously I’m certainly not on this lunatic’s side – however, I do think that she *could* be found to be technically ‘in the right’ – as far as her constitutional rights and the law are concerned – and that such nonsense could be readily cured with further amendment to that part of the U.S. constitution that fundamentalists try to hide behind.

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | March 15, 2009, 3:10 am
  6. I live in North Raleigh so I’m happy to hear something right being done in my neighborhood 🙂 But this isn’t a freedom of religion issue; it’s a child abuse issue. If your religion tells you to abuse your child, it’s the law’s obligation to protect the child and trample your freedom of religion.

    Posted by KaylaKaze | March 15, 2009, 12:04 pm
  7. The incredibly biased news story quotes only a few words taken out of context from the judge while giving lots of space to quotes/paraphrases from the mother and the right wing blathersphere, and the entire story buries the main point: The children have a father, who also has rights – including the right to have some say in how his children are educated. The father doesn’t want his ex-wife’s religious mania to entirely shape his children’s world-view and wants them to have exposure and socialization with other children, which is a very reasonable position to take (especially if the reason he left her for another woman has a lot to do with her joining a fundie religious cult, which led to the home schooling in the first place). The judge, whose job it is to look out for the best interests of the children, agreed with the father that outside

    I find it very interesting that the very same right wing Christian nutters who are ready, willing, and eager to deny women’s rights every day in every way – remember, these are the same crew who absolutely reject female clergy and embrace complete women’s subordination to the will of their husbands in marriage – are so quick to insist that this particular mother has an absolute and total right to make all decisions regarding her children’s upbringing and this particular father should have no say whatsoever. They constantly rail against moral relativism and cast all issues as black-and-white, but their “bedrock principles” always prove to be remarkably flexible in practice when things don’t go exactly their way…

    Posted by G Felis | March 15, 2009, 3:27 pm
  8. Whoops! “…agrees with the father that outside education and socialization would be good for them.” Don’t know what happened to the rest of that sentence.

    Posted by G Felis | March 15, 2009, 3:29 pm
  9. Kevin, it’s not so much a matter of her doing something “illegal” as it is a matter of coming to a settlement between the husband and wife. Granted, there are certainly cases of homeschooled kids who are subjected to abuse, as the law goes, and it might take something like a divorce for the actions to come to light, and we don’t know all the details in this case, so there’s a lot of speculation here. However, we can be pretty sure, just from the rhetoric coming from the mom’s side, that this is a Christian agenda issue, not an “infringement of rights.”

    Posted by hambydammit | March 15, 2009, 6:42 pm
  10. Gee. It turns out that the news report was absurdly biased and distorted – except where it was outright false – and that the right wing blathersphere got pretty much everything completely wrong about the facts of the case. Quelle surprise!

    Posted by G Felis | March 19, 2009, 11:19 pm
  11. I have to admit, I restrained myself from unsubstantiated accusations of cult-like abuse, but I suspected it. I’d say it’s nice to be right, but I hate being right about abused and indoctrinated children.

    Posted by hambydammit | March 20, 2009, 1:03 am

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