At some point, at some time in the recent past, I got on the HSLDA mailing list.
For those not in the know, that is the Home School Legal Defense Association. Since 1983, they have been defending the rights of homeschoolers across the nation. Which makes them pretty cool in my book.
Now, I’m not a member, but I had been seriously thinking about joining, and that’s what got me to add my name to their mailing list.
Here’s the thing that is bugging me.
I’m a secular homeschooler, folks. I don’t go to church, nor do I have any plans to in the future. The husband is a Taoist, I’m a agnostic with atheist leanings. At this point, much as I did at this age, E believes in God. I’m not sure what her vision of the big guy is, but she has told me several times she believes.
When E saw the neighbors praying at meals, she asked if we could all do that, and we said, “No, we will not, but you are more than welcome to. It is perfectly all right if you want to pray before a meal, or pray any old time, we will support you in it.” Our point in refusing is that to us it would be a lie for us to pray to a deity that we do not believe in.
Now eventually, my child will learn about the Bible, and hopefully the Talmud, the Koran, Buddhist teachings and more. I think that these books and writings all have important messages to reinforce – live a good life, be kind, care for one another, et cetera. The book of Esther in particular comes to mind when I think about a strong woman…or the book of Ruth…
My husband and I are rather ethical people. We go out of our way to do good, not harm, and once a co-worker of Dave’s insisted, “You must believe in God, because you are so moral, and how else would you have morals?”
To which I can only respond…”Really? I mean, REALLY?” As if the knowledge between right and wrong existed only within the confines of faith in God.
In any case, back to HSLDA and the mailing list I’m on.
I began getting regular updates via email. I looked forward to them since, due to my writing on this website, you can probably tell I’m pretty invested in homeschooling issues, including our legal rights throughout this country (and beyond our borders as well). But I noticed that in many of the updates it was inevitably God-centric, biblical studies, biblical sayings, and more.
So the other day I received an update via email. I opened it wondering Well I wonder if there will be any actual homeschool news in this? I scanned down the list of topics, noted that there was some news about a homeschooler in California (where both my husband and I have lived) and my eyes landed on an art contest. Ooh, what’s this? I thought. I clicked on it and it is an art contest based on different Psalms from the Bible.
Right now, at the tender age of five, I would prefer not to get into the Bible. There’s some heavy stuff in there and plenty of time to teach it once Emily has reached the age of reason (age 7-8) or has some basic life experience to puzzle out what is important to her and decide on her own faith. I read the Bible when I was ten, cover to cover. And again a few years later.
I was disappointed that the first time I see any kind of contest it would have to be faith-based. Perhaps because I view religion and faith as something that is less about education and more about defining who we are and our belief systems – as separate and apart from education as table manners are.
I finally hit the FAQs in the About section of the HSLDA website. And zoomed in on #4…
4. Is HSLDA a Christian organization?
HSLDA’s mission is to protect the freedom of all homeschoolers regardless of their faith background. HSLDA officers, directors and employees are followers of Christ who seek to provide the very highest levels of service in defending homeschooling freedom and equipping homeschoolers. HSLDA membership is open to all who choose to exercise their fundamental parental right to educate their children at home.
I’m kind of on the fence about all of this. Basically, I don’t see much value in continuing to receive the emails. Once in a while there is a nugget of something that applies to those of a more secular bent – but overall it is very, VERY Christian. And while they say that it is ‘open to all’, it doesn’t feel like it, not at all.
If I were to become a member, it would have been with the belief that I was doing so to give me and my family access to what appears to be some pretty significant political clout. If the PTB (powers that be) show up on my doorstep I want to be like Teddy Roosevelt…speak softly and carry a very big stick to back me up.
But I find myself in a moral quandary. Joining the organization as a member, or simply receiving the emails feels as if I am saying one thing and doing another – the equivalent to lying in my book. Do I align myself with a overtly Christian organization in order to receive benefits while clearly not sharing much of the same value system? Does it matter that they are uber-religious and our family is not? Am I over thinking this whole thing?
That’s where my brain is at right now, folks.
Do any other organizations like this exist? With less of a God-centric theme? I would sure love to hear about them.
I do hope I haven’t ticked off a ton of people. In case you were wondering...I absolutely respect the right of every one of us to make our own decisions on who we believe in and how we practice that belief – as long as it does not interfere with others right to do the same. What I am trying to figure out is, am I being true to our belief system – or is all of this introspection just silliness?