EandCMom,

I can certainly empathize with your living in the South dealing with evangelicals. Even in St. Louis when I was a kid, the question was not whether you were a Christian but which church you belonged to. I assume the South is worse. My brother and I were raised attending a Southern Baptist church, but we both declined to ever “go forward,” “accept Christ as Lord and Savior,” be baptized, formally join the church, etc. Needless to say, this caused a bit of a situation.

That’s a big part of the suffocating feeling I had in the Midwest that caused me to come out to California.

Even in California, the evangelical homeschoolers have their own homeschool association which you can only join if you sign some sort of pledge attesting that you have been saved by Jesus. This is kind of sad, because, when I have talked with a number of them as individuals, they are decent enough people and it would be nice to share information with them. There is, after all, no such thing as “Christian mathematics” separate from “secular” mathematics!

In fact, people have sometimes assumed that we’re fundamentalists since we do homeschool, we don’t happen to drink alcohol, and we expect our kids to try to behave themselves! I find this pretty amusing.

Did the other mother explain to you what the “filth” was? I can’t imagine that there is too much in the public schools in the South that is offensive to conservative Christians! Is it possible that she was just alluding to the well-known problems with violence, drugs, etc.? (I know the media exaggerate those problems, but there are some real problems nonetheless.)

I hope we have all made clear that homeschooling is not a unified, monolithic approach or philosophy at all. Indeed, there is a lot more variety than you see among the homeschoolers here on this board, since we would not be here unless we already shared certain perspectives. I think, for example, that my and Kriston’s approach is actually very similar (although she worries more than I do, and I am trying to encourage her to be more positive and cheerful about her homeschooling and not to feel defensive).

When I get frustrated dealing with evangelicals, I do try to remind myself that some of the greatest fighters for personal liberty in American history (e.g., Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, many of the abolitionists) were evangelicals, and that, by questioning the established structures of social authority, the evangelicals are actually helping to loosen the bonds of social control, even if they intend nothing of the sort.

And, personally, I find most evangelicals to be rather nice people – maybe that’s just my effervescent optimism, again. What’s your experience of evangelicals in the South in general? If you factor out the effects of their eccentric religious beliefs, are they generally nice people?

All the best,

Dave