The Bible teaches that we, as Christians, should be ready to defend the things that we believe whenever we might happen to be called upon to do so. But most American parents (myself included) never considered that our children might have to do defend our faith before our own government! And as children, no less…
But that is what things seem to have come to in Goochland County, Virginia.
A new policy passed by the Goochland County School Board in Goochland, Virginia requires children aged 14 and up who'd like to be homeschooled to provide a statement to the school system about their religious beliefs. The board further reserves the right to call the children before the board for a hearing - a hearing that would seemingly be called to "judge" the student's religious exemption requests.
Homeschool dad Kevin Hoeft sounded horrified when considering how the policy might actually play out, "For a 14-year-old to be threatened to have to come before the school board to explain or justify his or her religious beliefs?" It certainly seems beyond the pale to think that our government might force children to defend their religious beliefs simply because they choose to be homeschooled.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has organized a counterattack to the school board policy and is moving to organize a coordinated parent response. Here is part of the letter the HSLDA sent out to mobilize parents.
With little or no warning to the homeschool community, the Goochland County School Board adopted a homeschool policy in November that violates state law and interferes with the right of parents to guide the religious upbringing of their children.
For families homeschooling under the religious exemption, the policy demands that all children age 14 and older submit their beliefs in writing to the board for examination. They could even be summoned to a hearing where the board could grill them on their faith! This is unacceptable.
Most 14-year-olds haven't yet developed an adult-level faith. They are still receiving religious training from their parents.
The Virginia religious exemption statute gives families a right to an exemption from school attendance based on the religious training the parents are providing to the child—regardless of what the child believes. The Goochland policy violates this right.
You can read the rest of the HSLDA letter here.
As a rule, I am generally dubious of any new laws or efforts by the government to seize control from families. This is a perfect example of why.
I'm not sure that the school board had nefarious intentions when passing this ridiculous rule – but I do know that the consequences of the rule should have been immediately visible. The school board was demanding that families defend their religious beliefs before the government – and that kind of conversation is never going to go well, especially not in the United States of America where our religious freedom is sacrosanct.
The decision to homeschool comes for many different reasons, depending on the family; it should not matter what those reasons are. In the United States our individual liberties trump the government's desire to regulate our behavior and/or our beliefs. The government has slowly and steadily increased their grip on the education of our children (Republicans have been just as guilty of this as Democrats – see George W. Bush and Jeb Bush for examples). While the nation may have established compulsory education and a public education system, the Constitution has not changed. The government has no power to tell us HOW we are to educate our children.
Stand with us, stand with homeschoolers and private school families across the nation. Tell our government that they have no power to dictate how or WHY we educate our children – that responsibility falls to the parents alone.
Editor's Note: Scripture is clear on who is to educate children: Parents.
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. –Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Want to support this family? Contact the Goochland County School Board and inform them that they have no jurisdiction in this matter.
Goochland County Public Schools
PO Box 169, Goochland, Virginia 23063 USA