Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Secular Musings

Why is there a need for a secular homeschool group? Why would you join a secular homeschool group?

This seems to have come up in response to an inquiry I made of some of the other homeschooling groups in the area. There is a free class for teachers and homeschooling parents through the TX Parks & Wildlife called Project Wild that we’re about to participate in, and since we need to have X number of people to set up a local class, I contacted some of the groups in the area to see if they might have an interest in this as well. Somehow, that ‘good intention’ has morphed into widespread fear that I might be trying to ‘bring the homeschooling groups together’ for some strange and scary ‘interfaith’ activities that may or may not be designed to subvert their kids away from the church.

Le sigh.

I love the picture above, because it is the personification of what is wrong with faith-based groups. They don’t understand, and they don’t want to understand.  I am reminded of Chris Tse’s words in his amazing poem, “I’m Sorry I’m a Christian“:

…so confident of my own beliefs that I would never even think to think about thinking about yours.

Why ‘secular’? Mainly… because I am not ‘one of you’.  I don’t feel comfortable in your groups because everything you say (esp. re: history and science and Biblical ‘truth’) is presented as fact with no room for discussion. I don’t share your convictions on those points; why would I subject myself to an environment where there is only room for one truth and not even respect for anything else? That is why we both need, and have, and have joined, a secular group.

My question to you is, ‘Why can’t you do anything without it being steeped in your faith? Do you not derive strength and fortitude from any other source? What would you/will you do if ever your faith is proven to be false? Will you cease to have a reason to live and give up all hope or will you still find that you are the same, concerned, loving parent intent on doing the best you can for your kids? That sounds sarcastic; I know it does, and yet it is an honest question.

I have long left the faith I was raised in and have remained constant. I am still the same person I have always been and I manage do so on the sole merit of my own authority, not because of faith or belief or religious dictates. I have not changed. What I believe and believe in has. I refuse to allow adherents of any religion to dictate how I feel about things, what I can see, what I can listen to, who I can be friends with or grant them authority over any other aspect of my life and lifestyle. I’m both capable of and interested in doing those things for myself.

All that said, I really do think that the Christian homeschooling community at large gets a bad rap a lot of the time. I think that the vast majority of homeschoolers are probably ‘normal’ people. They laugh at funny jokes, they watch TV, they like music – you know, normal. It’s that vocal few who have the drive (or narcissistic personality disorder?) to start and successfully run a homeschooling group who end up speaking for the group because that’s what group leaders do – whether or not all the members of a group feel that way, simply by being associated with XYZ group, people assume that you feel that way, too. For example, in my group, there are several moms who are deeply religious. I know, right? I’ll wait a minute while you reconcile that shocking thought in your head…

… Yes. DEEPLY  religious. As in, their religion defines them as people and dictates their behavior and response in any given situation. I’d definitely call that deeply religious… and yet they are in a secular homeschooling group. Why? Well, because the tenets of their faith do not jive with the tenets of the already-established faith-based groups in this area. Or maybe because their main goal in homeschooling is to educate, not indoctrinate. Or maybe it’s because we have a planned group activity every week. Or maybe it’s because our motto is “Triangle Homeschoolers – This is the place where people are awesome to each other.” Either way, association and participation in a secular group does not offer commentary on the state of our members’ faith or religious convictions. Just because the group as a whole does not lean in any one particular religious direction does not mean that the members are not zealous in their own beliefs. Think ‘separation of church and state’.

Bottom line is that I (and by extension, my group) am in no way as influential as you seem to think. While it would totally rock if that were so, it’s simply not true. If a secular group is not for you, then don’t join it. We are no threat to you or your children or your beliefs or your faith-based group. My advice would be to simply ignore what doesn’t apply or appeal to you. Better yet, why don’t you come see what we’re all about before you make up your mind?

Warmly,

~h

(Sorry for the 3-days late SecThurs post… I am back-dating it though, which is cheating, I admit, but this post needed a LOT of editing.)

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14 responses

  1. I wholeheartedly agree.

    When I started a secular HS e-list earlier this fall, I kept hearing “Why do you need a secular list?”. One of complaints came from people at our state HS organization, which is inclusive. They didn’t see why inclusive wasn’t the same as secular, as long as they “let” non-religious people in.

    I didn’t want updates about Conservative Christian political candidates sent to me because it was assumed as a HSer I must vote the same as every other HSer. I didn’t want notices sent to me about “purity balls” for my daughters to attend with their father. I didn’t want to listen to bashing of evolution or “public schools and their liberal agendas” or bashing of anything really. I just wanted talk about homeschooling. And to have a safe place where I could talk about what it’s like to be a HSer and not a “member of the fold.”

    Really, they do seem awfully afraid of us. It’s illogical. I have many religious friends who are so cool and it’s just not an issue, and then there’s these ones who act as if we have something contagious! It seems to be based in an awful lot of fear, which I think says something!

    October 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    • We don’t even have an ‘inclusive’ group in this area. Of the 7 or 8 co-op/support groups in the local area, all are faith-based, with an accompanying statement of faith that must be adhered to (not just acknowledged) – even the state regional support group is Christian-oriented.

      Having a secular group was necessary for this area, as evidenced by our continued success and rise in membership recently.

      I definitely agree about the conversations… thanks for commenting, Alicia!
      ~h

      October 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

  2. Amy

    So identified with this post. I have talked this subject to death with those who are and aren’t on the same wave length. And while I am sure I will have the conversation again and again and again I’m done carrying the burden of the ill-will that family and friends and strangers that do not agree throw at me. They do not want to believe that non-belief in a specific deity does not equal absence of morality, ethic, and value. It’s really unfortunate for them the perspectives and love they deprive themselves of because of their need to be right.

    October 17, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    • “They do not want to believe that non-belief in a specific deity does not equal absence of morality, ethic, and value.”

      Very sad, indeed.
      Thanks for commenting, Amy!
      ~h

      October 19, 2010 at 12:18 pm

  3. Tammy Choate

    I felt compelled to reply to this. I am deeply committed to what I believe and I rear my children to know why I believe this way and help them when they have questions. But they are their own people and will make up their own minds about what they believe. I do believe that their minds should not be indated with sexual content, curse words, and violence and therefore I sensor what they watch and read (the same way I do for myself). Afterall, garbage in; garbage out(both in words and actions).

    Now, about the “fear”. I must admit I was wondering exactly what “secular homeschoolers” were. Is it a cult? Do they worship the devil? Have moon rituals? Do they “eat” christians for fun?

    But I did not let my “fear” of the name keep me from finding out the answers. Afterall, God made us all equally and Jesus walked among all of us and He did not “avoid” everyone that didn’t think and act just like Him. So, I asked questions and I attended a field trip with the group.

    Quess what? These ladies are really fun to be around. Not only did they not exclude me; they actually made me feel welcomed and made a point of talking to me and trying to get to know me. Even though I am one of the “believers” that so often look down on them. I decided right then I really enjoyed this group and the wonderful field trips that H puts together.

    Does this make me less of a “believer” simply because I like others that do not believe the same way I do? NO!

    I am not ashamed to admit that I love the Lord and I am a faithful follower of the Bible and what it teaches. Nor am I ashamed to admit that I am a member of the “secular” Triangle Homeschoolers group. More people should exercise their faith and get to know others outside their “comfort zone” and stop judging. Afterall, “whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Well my friend, that is not me.

    October 17, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    • “I must admit I was wondering exactly what “secular homeschoolers” were. Is it a cult? Do they worship the devil? Have moon rituals? Do they “eat” christians for fun?”

      Not on your first visit, anyway 😉 Have I mentioned how glad I am that you decided to come play with us?

      I’m so glad that you decided to comment, Tammy. Thank you 🙂
      ~h

      October 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm

  4. Secular groups are needed, because most I have seen or been involved in are tolerant of others. They don’t care what faith, or lack of that you are. Just that you respect everyone else, most importantly the children.

    October 18, 2010 at 9:04 am

    • I believe that faith/belief should be a part of my kids’ life and education. I also believe that those things are between me and my kids, and shouldn’t have anything to do with our homeschooling support organization!
      It’s always a pleasure, Jana 🙂
      ~h

      October 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm

  5. Interesting post! and situation!

    @Amy
    “They do not want to believe that non-belief in a specific deity does not equal absence of morality, ethic, and value. It’s really unfortunate for them the perspectives and love they deprive themselves of because of their need to be right.”

    I have dealt with this time and time again. So frustrating!!!!!

    October 18, 2010 at 8:26 pm

  6. I know… I’m really unclear as to what should be done, if anything. Right now, the plan is to continue being my awesome self and let my actions, and those of our group as a whole, speak for me.
    ~h

    October 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm

  7. Wonderful post!

    This is an important issue that many of us secular homeschoolers are faced with, but rarely discuss.

    Many people just can’t comprehend morality without religion. Even my own family seem to see us as sinful and corrupt, when it seems to me we have more honor than most (not even trying to brag!). And generally speaking, most folks, while they feel compelled/justified to voice their opinions, will not listen to your reply. It feels very one-sided.

    And yet, I am still me, regardless. I think I’m amazing–just as you are awesome! Thanks for a great post–it’s nice to see something controversial to spark a little conversation.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:06 am

    • Thanks for commenting, Samantha!
      That always did strike me as an odd world-view; the idea that one has no moral compass without religion/faith/belief to guide them. It’s the same as admitting that without religion, one might possibly become a rampaging villain… LOL
      Very odd, indeed.
      ~h

      October 25, 2010 at 10:25 am

  8. Hi! 🙂 I popped over here after procrastinating via staring at my Real Time Feed and noticing someone followed your Misfit button over to my blog, the home of the Misfits. (Wow, was that a long and confusing sentence or am I just seriously exhausted? Yes.)

    ANYWAY. I started reading through your blog (good stuff by the way, thoughtful, unlike my spur of the moment throw-it-up there stuff, but I digress) and wanted to both say hi (which I did. See above) and comment that this post makes me sad because it’s too often true. I am a Christian whose faith does impact all of my life but I hate those exclusive of everyone else groups. In our area, there is both a strong Christian based group and a strong secular group and WE DO THINGS TOGETHER.

    The reason that both exist is that sometimes it’s nice to get together with the Christian group and know you can have faith-based discussion without being ridiculed. Anyone is welcome at our activities and meetings (Ha! We go to Borders and drink coffee and laugh, but it sounds better if you call them meetings) but we feel safe to discuss our faith. I don’t mind discussion on others beliefs and I’m not worried about my children being “exposed” to others with different worldviews. In fact, I think this is great. I want my kids to know where other people are coming from and if I’m worried they’ll be that easily influenced, then my faith’s not worth a whole lot to begin with.

    I agree with the previous commenter- if I found the secular group to be completely immoral, kids continually cussing, or engaging in violent gang behavior then yeah, I’d avoid it. But I haven’t seen that at all. They’ve been perfectly nice, friendly people and I hope they have found our group to be the same. We need to come together as parents who want the best for our children and will fight to keep our homeschooling freedoms. There’s a lot that brings us together and no reason we can’t focus on those things more than we do. I’m such a cynical idealist. I want to fly around and sprinkle everyone with love dust but also know that in reality, people often suck.

    These are my head cold influenced words, so please no mocking of my grammatical failures. 😉

    November 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm

  9. Hi Lori 🙂 Glad you found you way here!

    It would be lovely to have a regional group that was concerned with the welfare of ALL homeschooling families, but we don’t. It’s frustrating and disappointing when I get that kind of response – my hope for the future has not brightened after this experience. I agree, too often people do suck.

    I’m glad that you have a strong support system and the option to choose!
    Thanks for commenting 🙂
    ~h

    November 4, 2010 at 9:52 pm

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