Do Christian Parents Have a Fundamental Right to Homeschool?

The Story: In a political asylum case involving a German family that fled to the United States to be able to homeschool their children, the U.S. Justice Department is arguing that the freedom to choose to educate one’s own children is not a fundamental right.

The Background: In 2010, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, who lived with their five children in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, were faced with a choice: abandon their Evangelical Christian religious beliefs or lose custody of their children. The Romeikes had withdrawn their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith. After accruing the equivalent of $10,000 worth of fines and the forcible removal of their children from the home, they chose to flee their homeland and seek asylum in the United States.

On January 26, 2010, a federal immigration judge granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruling they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. The judge also denounced the German policy, saying it was, “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”

However, President Obama’s Justice Department disagreed. They argued that the family should be denied asylum based on their contention that governments may legitimately use its authority to force parents to send their kids to government-sanctioned schools. The case is currently pending in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Why It Matters: As in the abortion-contraceptive mandate case, the Obama administration’s primary argument is that as long as a government mandate or ban is constituted broadly and equally (i.e., not directed toward any particular group) then there is no violation of religious liberties. In other words, as long as Evangelicals or Catholics or other specific groups are not directly targeted by a particular law, then they have no basis for seeking an exemption based on conscience.

Additionally, the Obama administration has been arguing that religious liberties are a “group right.” If all members of a religious group hold a belief then it should be considered for protection, otherwise no exemption should be made. For example, the U.S. government contends that the Romeikes’ failed to show that they were being discriminated against based on religion because they did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.

As Mike Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Asssocaition (HSLDA), the group that is defending the Romeikes, says:

This argument demonstrates another form of dangerous “group think” by our own government. The central problem here is that the U.S. government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right. One need not be a part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church to claim religious freedom—one should be able to follow the dictates of God Himself.

The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any understanding of individual liberty.

As Farris makes clear, this case is not just about a German family seeking asylum but about the parental and religious rights of American families. The Obama administration believes that the rights of parents to educate our children is conditional on the government’s approval, a right that is not fundamental but exercised at the whim of government bureuacrats.

“It is important that Americans stand up for the rights of German homeschooling families,” says Farris. “In so doing, we stand up for our own.”

  • Ralph

    The difference between countries on these areas are amazing. In Ireland we have a constitutional recognition that the primary educators of the child is the family and we have an explicit constitutional right to educate at home.

    See article 42

    So we have the complete opposite view to Germany which insists on education within the state system. Although very few parents home school here – our public school system funds faith and Church based schools.

    The Romeike’s would be able to freely move to Ireland (as EU citizens) and enjoy the protection and freedom of our constitution.

    • Karen Butler

      Actually, some legal experts have argued that with the passage of the Irish Children’s Rights Referendum, exactly the opposite of what you argue can occur. See

      “The amendment’s wording grants the state the right to dissolve the family. It asserts that in undefined “exceptional cases” the “State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents.” It allows children to be seized by the state and adopted out to others against the will of their natural parents “where the best interests of the child so require,” with “best interests” also remaining undefined. ”

      The Irish signed away the greater protections afforded by EU law when this ratified that amendment. Look for those “best interests” and “exceptional cases” — especially given the growing hostility of the Irish government towards the Catholic church.

  • Nick F.

    The right to educate one’s own children in itself is not a “religious freedom,” it’s a fundamental right regardless of religion. It’s embarrassing to me as a human being that there are countries like Germany that see it as otherwise. Seriously, it’s like something out of “Brave New World.” While religious rights are being trampled, they are being trampled for the non-religious, too. As a nation that espouses freedom *for all*, it’s a travesty that we didn’t immediately welcome this family with open arms on that basis alone.

  • Melody

    It was my understanding that Germany has that law in order to keep the Muslims in check. Is that incorrect?

    • Nate

      No the law has been on the books in Germany since Hitler in the 1930’s. The state then and still now believe that allowing children to be educated in “counter-cultural” environments is not in the interest of the state or society at large.

  • Steve Hagberg

    Am I right in understanding that the Obama administration sees selective discrimination as the only real problem with restricting freedoms? In other words, as long as we oppress all of you equally there should be no complaints about losing your rights?

    • Joe Carter

      That seems to be their basic line of argumentation on religious liberty issues. Also, the administration appears to believe that religious freedom is limited mainly to “freedom of worship.”

  • Brantley Gasaway

    It’s taken a while, but I knew someday I’d find something written by Joe with which I agree :)

  • Darren Blair

    I, personally, am a big advocate of home-schooling.

    Due in large part to surviving the failings of the school system in the town in which I live.

    The big thing was how ridiculously violent my high school was. The head principal was an incompetent who was apathetic to anything that didn’t directly relate to his job, the campus cops tended to be the bottom of the barrel (including one guy who showed up to work with a hangover), and I had my GPA permanently ruined by a teacher who had no business teaching (I missed the top 10% in my graduating class by four slots – .006 of a grade point – because of her).

    This attitude of apathy spread down to the student body. Individual teachers and staff members tried to correct it on their own, but there was only so much that they could do. Couple this with a building that was at *double* capacity at any given moment, and the place was essentially Thunderdome. I actually had to stop eating in the cafeteria if I could help it because of all the fights that were breaking out.

    I can’t think of a single parent who would willingly let their kids stay in such a rat hole if they knew how bad it was and had the means to extricate them from the situation. I know I wouldn’t let my kids stay in if it meant that they were in danger.

  • Karen Butler

    Wow. We were strapped for cash last month, and let our twenty year old HSLDA membership expire. Not a good idea. It looks bad out there, as ominous for parental rights as 2008, when the infamous Rachel L case made homeschooling virtually illegal in California for a couple of months until the court’s decision was voided.

    Statism is showing its tricksy hand, again. I am not at all advocating anything to do with Ann Rand, but their institute’s legal analyst says it well, here speaking of that notorious 2008 decision:

    “The apologists for government education[‘s]… political and financial survival depends on a policy that treats children as, in effect, state property–but only rarely is the undiluted collectivism of that policy trumpeted so publicly.”

  • Patrick

    Again, elections have consequences. Christians who voted for President Obama should have seen this coming especially after “hosanna-tabor v. eeoc”. We have chosen the most anti-religious administration in this nation’s history.

  • Amy

    As someone who was homeschooled growing up, I wanted to add that I believe people should have the right to homeschool their children IF and only if they are competent and well-equipped to do so. Growing up I met many children who received a superior education and an equal number whose parents were woefully uneducated and ill qualified to oversee their children’s education. Those children are no paying the price as they have large gaps in their English/grammar/math abilities and are having an even harder time than most getting a good job.

    I recently met one young boy who was “homeschooled” only to disguise the absolute negligence going on in his home. His mother openly admitted to me that she pulled him out of the school system because the school kept calling CPS on her.

    Perhaps I am playing more of a devil’s advocate roll, but I wanted to show that there is good cause to oversee those who homeschool and keep a watchful eye on it. Again, I was homeschooled and was blessed to have a mother who taught me well (I later went to college on scholarship) but some children are not so fortunate.

    • Karen Butler

      Your anecdotal evidence goes against study after study that consistently shows homeschooled children outperform their government schooled peers–

      — who are not faring well on national assessments. The most recent NAEP assessments indicate that less than one third of U.S. fourth graders are proficient in reading, mathematics, science, and American History.
      More than half cannot even demonstrate basic knowledge of science, reading, and history.
      U.S. eighth graders ranked 19th out of 38 countries on mathematic assessments and 18th in science.
      U.S. twelfth graders ranked 18th out of 21 countries in combined mathematics and science assessments.

      Those public schools should really have to demonstrate that they are competent and well-equipped to educate those unfortunate children. Perhaps homeschool associations should oversee government schools, and keep a watchful eye on them. Because those poor children are “paying the price as they have large gaps in their English/grammar/math abilities and are having an even harder time than most getting a good job.”

      • Melody

        I don’t see why there shouldn’t be yearly testing to make sure that children are being taught and not merely hidden from the system. The good home-schooled kids will knock it out of the park. The few I knew whose mother’s were using it to avoid dealing with the system would be helped.

        • Jennifer S

          Many states do require yearly testing – but that testing is based on state standards and when they teach what subject, which may or many not be what that child has learned that year. Why does it matter when a child learns state history? In my state, it is taught in 4th grade. We learned it at home in 5th grade? I DO test my kids every year and I look at the scores. But often it is a box to check because I KNOW how my kids are doing. I am the one teaching them!

          • Melody

            The point is not to sacrifice other children to ignorance in dysfunctional households just because our children are doing great.

            Until you have lived in the low-income culture, you cannot imagine what life is like for some of those children. Living in a bubble doesn’t solve it. What is a little inconvenience if it helps a poor child?

            Anecdotal just means that if we can come up with a majority that are served the few don’t matter. That applies to the above argument regarding how great home-school kids do statistically.

            • Karen Butler


              “Living in a bubble doesn’t solve it. What is a little inconvenience if it helps a poor child?”

              You think we live in a bubble? That we can’t be inconvenienced? You make some overly sweeping judgements of the homeschooling community and their motives.

              We live in the city, and serve in our church’s ministry to the poor. Our children have gone to some really gnarly places with us– and their faces glowed as they recounted the impact it had on them. One wept. We long for our children to make life-long commitments to serve those without the wonderful hope they hold.

              We believe discipleship at home best serves God’s purposes for them — given the especially the kind of creative, energetic group they are. My sons’ boy-ness would neutralized with Ritalin in the public schools.

              When our children are out of the home, my husband and I want to live simply in a SRO hotel room in the nastiest part of this city where the greatest concentration of children live, and minister to them.

              I share your concerns for some homeschooler’s lack of concern for the lost souls outside their gated communities and I wrote my own critique of this attitude ,”…our distorted message to these desperate people is devoid of grace: your dress is bad, your music and movies are bad and we hate your influence on our kids–and we will build ourselves the City of God, safe from you. We have experienced a kind of heart failure.”

              I think all of us need to exercise a little more charity and a lot less judgement in our evaluations of each others motives.

      • John Sandeman

        I would like to believe that Home School Children may outperform those at government and independent schools, but all the studies I have seen appear to be hosted on Home Schooling websites. Can you give a link to an independent website or study?

        • Suz Stewart


          In 2011, the Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science did a study that showed homeschoolers outscored their public school peers by as much as 2 grade levels. The results have been written about in news articles and were even featured in a TLC report om homeschooling. The actual report is online, but you need to purchase it to access it.

          • Karen Butler

            Or you can read an overview of the research on Milton Gaither’s blog here:

            I am aware of his and Rob Kunzman’s criticism’s of the sample bias of NHERI’s research, but this study seems to refute that. Clearly, we need more studies.

            Gaither and Kunzman also criticize the results of standardized tests that indicate homeschoolers outperform the government schooled kids, noting that “homeschool parents can administer these tests themselves, making it possible to create very different testing conditions from what public school students experience.”

            I guess they think we cheat and create too many accommodations for our little darlings. But perhaps we can eliminate that as a statistical variable, given the continual reports of cheating scandals in the public school’s own administration of these high stakes tests.

            and here:

            • John Sandeman

              Karen, Thankyou for your considered reponse. From Gaither’s blog the Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science report concerns a small study, with volunteers rather than a randomised sample. So I guess we don’t have a clear answer on whether homeschoolers do better or not. I hope someone does a good study on this one day.

            • Karen Butler

              I am going to amend this statement on homeschool education outcomes, given Sue’s insistence that we compare “apples to apples”, below. College bound homeschool students taking the SAT’s do much better than public school students. (From the Gallup website,

              “A report on the scores of 2001 college-bound seniors by The College Board, which sponsors the SAT college entrance exams, indicates that, as a group, homeschooled students’ SAT scores were above the national average. On average, homeschooled test-takers scored 71 points higher than the national average — 568 in verbal and 525 in math, versus 506 and 514, respectively.”

            • John Sandeman


              I would be interesting to look at the effects of self selection in these tests. On the other hand, its clear to me that Homeschoolers do well at university in my country.

    • Michael

      Amy, given your two types of homeschooling, who gets to decide if the parents are qualified to teach or not?

    • Sue


      Unfortunately, your homeschooling experience growing up isn’t unique. There are many parents who excel at it and do it to the glory of God, but many do not – some out of laziness, but I believe for the most part, out of ignorance.

      I don’t want this to be too lengthy, but the public deserves to know what’s going on out there. I am both a public school teacher and a born-again believer active in children’s ministries at my church.

      At church, I frequently notice that homeschooled children struggle in the area of reading at a far greater rate than those in public school. In a homeschooling family of four, two are below grade-level. In a family of two, one is below. In a family of six, three are below, etc. Informal observations suggest that fully one-third to one-half of children are reading two or more years below grade level. These figures don’t include the children who can barely write because, I can only guess, the homeschooling parents think that will just come naturally? Or perhaps the parent doesn’t enjoy writing and doesn’t have the desire to give it the time and attention at home that it deserves.

      For the record, I believe in comparing apples to apples. Yes, I realize that there are public schools in the inner cities with the same failure rates, but most homeschooling parents are in an entirely different demographic. Therefore, I prefer to compare the test results/academic ability of homeschooled children to their peers in the suburbs.

      Homeschooling parents tend to blame lack of success on the child – “she has dyslexia” instead of on his/her teaching – after all, the parents had success with the other children (who picked up the skill easily). My experience shows that this is due to faulty knowledge of teaching reading on the part of the parent. (Surprise – a college degree in education really does matter when educating children! Why is it okay to assume that just “anyone” can provide a child with a solid education – even if that person is a loving parent? I’m caring and nurturing; but I don’t pretend that I can provide medical care just because I took a Biology course and have access to WebMD.)

      At school, unfortunately, we receive children each year who are fully three to five years below grade level expectancy in reading, writing, and math who have been homeschooled. At that point, the parents finally realize that whatever they’ve been doing at home isn’t working. I applaud those parents for having the humility to recognize that and to enroll their children in school where they typically make amazing gains. Sadly, the older the student, the less likely it is that we will fully bridge the gap and get them to grade level; although we certainly do try!

      Read the news lately? Public schools are doing away with tenure and teachers are being held fully accountable for the performance of the students entrusted to them using test scores. Some districts are using those scores for 50% of the teacher evaluation. I support this, and because of that, I also support accountability for homeschooling parents. No one – teacher OR parent – has the right to sabotage the ability of any child to reach their full academic potential. God Himself is the One who gives each child that ability. Parents (and teachers) have the responsibility to be good stewards of what He has given.

      I’m not at all against homeschooling – if it’s done well. Many parents just aren’t up to the task, and it would be wonderful if we stopped putting pressure on them to continue on that path to the detriment of their children.


      • Karen Butler

        I can see it is time to call a cease-fire in the schooling wars!

        I am so thankful for the godly teachers I know who selflessly serve in the embattled mission field of the public schools. I am so thankful for the superintendent of schools who serves as our church’s youth minister — I am never afraid to share our families struggles with him, and frequently consult him for advice on our children’s schooling. He is my friend. Susan, I wonder if those lagging homeschooling families would feel the same freedom to come to you with their problems. Would they feel comfortable asking you for teaching tips?

        As for the old canard of teacher qualifications — “a college degree in education really does matter when educating children” — please verify. Studies by L. D. Freeman, R. E. Flodan, R. Howsan, and D. C. Corrigan, measured the effectiveness of teacher certification requirements. They all concluded that there is no significant relation between teacher certification and student performance in the classroom. Most who study the field of homeschooling, such as Kunzman and Gaither, acknowledge teacher certification is not a necessary part of any move to regulate homeschools.

        As for me, the academics are important, and my children do well there, but by no means are they the central motivation for the decision to homeschool. In our home, we seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. We begin every morning with the day’s reading in the One Year Bible, and with prayer. That kind of spiritual formation is not possible in the California public schools, or in any private Christian school in the city where I live. I am so thankful that I still have this freedom to disciple my own children.

        • Sue


          Thank you for the encouragement that you provided in your first paragraph. I have had a few families approach me for teaching advice, and for the most part, it was well-received.

          As I stated earlier, I am not against homeschooling at all and believe that it should be an option for parents. I DO think that it should be regulated to prevent the cases about which I previously wrote.


          • Karen Butler

            I am so glad you were encouraged! I used to teach in a private school for special ed students who couldn’t be mainstreamed, Sue. My mother-in-law was a teacher. I have such respect for the calling.

            I used to be of the ‘don’t tread on me’ camp of homeschoolers, but I am coming to reluctantly agree that we will probably have to accept some oversight. I agree with Robert Kunzman — whose survey I cite below on the complexities of such regulation — who says that less is more.

  • Amy

    Haha, ahh, typos. I wish I could figure out how to edit my comment.


  • Bruce427

    The main issue many parents have with government “education” is that the (modern]) “State” does not simply seek to *educate* our children, it seeks to *indoctrinate* them in the “thinking” of the Secular-Progressive culture and seduce them into buying into all sorts of activities and behaviors that the Bible calls — Sin.

    In reality, it is a battle for the minds of our children.

    • Dave Graham

      And this is why we cannot cede to the government the right to “test” our home-schooled children to see if parents are “competent” enough (as the above discussion suggests). In today’s educational ethos, I fear that the criteria by which parents could receive bureaucratic approval would include teaching those ‘progressive’ values that constitute the very reason why many parents opt out of the public system in the first place.

  • Riley

    To some extent the argument of the Justice Department that religious liberty is a “group right” is correct. Although it should be applied so broadly that all Christians would have to be homeschoolers to make it a right, there should be some demonstrable basis in the religion for the right claimed. The alternative is protection of every single individual doing whatever they think or feel to be correct. As a prison chaplain I know what big headaches that creates. “I’m a believer in ‘insert ridiculous made-up religion here’ and I believe that I’m entitled to smoke a cigarette every morning as a sacrament of my individual belief” is the kind of stuff we’d have to start accomodating if protected religious belief were purely and individual freedom not linked to a group or religious authority.

    • Michael

      Prisoners don’t have their freedom, Americans are supposed to. The constitution applies to individuals, not just groups!

      • Riley

        The courts have granted a lot of rights and protections to the freedom of prisoners. But that was just an illustration. Religious freedom must have a communal focus. I don’t think our laws need to accommodate whatever an individual person might strongly and sincerely believe. If someone believes she is a priestess accepting gifts for the service of an erotic sacrament, I think you’d still agree that she is a prostitute and not protected by law.

  • Riley

    They can demonstrate from authoritative sources of the Christian faith, i. e., the Bible, that education is a parental responsibility. That should suffice to prove that it needs to be protected by law under the freedom of expression of religion.

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  • Rusty Lopez

    I’ll agree to testing the competence of parents to home school their children after home school families are allocated the same $/student the public system gets (~$10,000 / child / year), when public teachers are also tested, and when the public teacher’s unions stranglehold is broken, thereby allowing bad public teachers to be dismissed.

  • Jennifer S

    I am a homeschooling mom, but for me this case is not really about the ‘fundamental’ right to homeschool. This is about a ‘fundamental’ right for parents to make choices for their children and the government staying out of it. No matter what education a student receives, they are indoctrinated. Whether that education is provided by a public agency, liberal homosexual parents, or conservative Christian parents – parents must maintain the right to raise their children in the way they see fit. We will not all agree that a certain way is right, but with freedom comes choices, and with choices, there comes consequences.

    There are plenty of extremes on all sides of the issues – but most homeschooling parents want the best for their kids and are not slackers. That parent who didnt homeschool – well there are teachers who dont teach and schools who dont care. But for every one that is slacking, there are 10 or more who are doing their best. It is sad that the vast majority of our laws are made for the minority of people.

    • Melody

      I don’t think that home schooling parents should have to pass a test to home school. Passing a test just means that a person knows how to test. When I speak of testing of the children I mean minimally to make sure that they are not merely claiming to home school.

  • Amy

    Michael, good question. I wish I had an easily implemented answer. My own mother had a four year degree, but I know of college educated people who would not be fit to teach and brilliant people with only a high school education. Perhaps tests for parents who wish to homeschool and required yearly testing for students who are homeschooled? Honestly, I’m not certain what would be best.

    • Karen Butler


      Perhaps it would be best for you to study up on this, as you and the teacher’s unions are the only ones who think that instructor certification and yearly testing are necessary regulations for homeschools. Here’s a place to start, with a paper by the Home Education scholar Robert Kunzman, reviewed by his peer, Milton Gaither:

      They argue for a more minimalist approach to homeschool regulation. They say certification requirements are misguided because “homeschooling parents aren’t doing the job of public school teachers…(and) State courts have consistently agreed, which is why no state requires teaching certification of homeschooling parents.”

      And yearly testing requirements are also not advisable because they think we’d try to “beat the system” (whatever that means) and, “Furthermore, calls for more extensive testing risk turning homeschools into the same hothouse of test-craziness that has created such controversy among public school policymakers.” Kunzman advocates a simple basic skills test when the child is twelve, and a careful follow-up if the child fails to meet the agreed-upon standards — a “closer look by the state into that particular homeschool context, the quality of instruction, and the needs of the student before deciding how best to protect his or her educational interests.”

      That is certainly a more thoughtful approach than your rather draconian, NEA-approved methods of homeschool regulation.

  • the Old Adam

    Nobody has any fundamental rights as far as education goes as long as the teacher’s unions have an iron grip on the left-wing indoctrination system know as our public school system.

    Only the big shot lefties with money send their kids to private schools…even though those same lefties refuse to let poor people have vouchers so that their kids might get a decent education.

  • Gunnar T

    I personally believe that it’s wise to have the state determine the standards for schooling. To say that parents should have full ability to raise their children exactly the way they want is dangerous. Everyone believes that there ought to be certain standards in place to protect children from poor parenting: we just debate how far those standards should go.

    The truth is, parents can encourage their students to thrive in their educational experience regardless of the teaching they receive. This can be an opportunity to teach one’s child how he can put on display his love for God and humanity. Christian, public school students can see how the gospel responds to and interacts with all the teaching they receive from a secular school environment. This can then sometimes lead to open doors for these children themselves to share the gospel. I know that in my public school experience I had multiple opportunities to share the gospel as a middle school and high school student.

    On another note, there are many parents who are honestly unfit to be the sole academic educators to their children. Some of these parents may have had negative academic experiences and can pass their poor education and work ethic onto their children.

    Also, I think we need to take into consideration the numerous Christian individuals who are currently in universities training and learning to be competent teachers because they see it as their calling. At the university I attend, I have close friends that are currently striving to become strong teachers. When parents choose to homeschool their children, these well-meaning, future teachers are disregarded and replaced by many parents who don’t have nearly the training for the position. (This is not to say that this is always the case.)

    All in all, I believe the government should play a role in the education of the children in our nation by setting standards and requiring families to keep them.

    • Jennifer S

      I dont have a problem with being accountable as a homeschooling mom. I DO desire the best for my kids’ education, along with 100s of other families in my area who I interact with on a regular basis. It is the ability to parent my kids as a right that I have a problem with. YES YES YES there should be protections in place for poor parent and poor homeschooling, but removing the right is is dangerous. Do my children belong to the state to set the standards and determine their worth?

      It is proven that the single most important factor in the success of a child’s education, across socioeconomic, religious, or any other boundary, is the involvement of the parent. Kids whose parents are involved THRIVE. How much better can I be involved than homeschooling?

      Now, as big of an adovcate that I am for homeschooling, I do not believe that EVERYONE should homeschool. There are many situations where it is not the best option. But it needs to remain AN option, along with private and public. I dont believe that most parents really evaluate the three options. ‘Homeschooling is too hard’ and ‘Private school is too expensive’, so the default is public school. Homeschooling today is VERY different that the homeschooling of my growing up years (the 70s) and even different that 10 years ago. The resources are endless and the ability to network with others and get help when you need it is amazing.

      And one last thing – no where is it said that Christian Children are to be witnesses. Even Jesus did not start his ministry until he was 30.

      “To send one’s children—all day, every day—into an educational environment where they are in the care of someone else (and someone else’s worldview) and not with their parents is to take a big chance. If we do not see the gravity of taking that chance, then we do not understand the world in which we live, the covenant of parenthood, or the purpose and role of education.”

      • Melody

        However involved parents are involved in the schools and classrooms too. Then the children from substandard homes benefit. When everyone takes their children out then who do those children have? Or are we only supposed to care about the ones that we give birth to?

        • Ryan B


          I understand the anguish you have for these children. My heart breaks for their parents as well. There are so many lost in the world. People who need Jesus. I am broken for them. I am constantly reaching out to people (including public school people) for the Gospel. I am not going to send my children to be educated by another worldview to reach out and try to save the lost. This logic doesn’t work. I have heard of older children feeling compelled to enter public school as a missionary.

          • Melody

            It doesn’t require logic. It requires faith.

            • Ryan B

              It requires the same faith to home school probably more so as that is the less regarded education method in the United States. Just because I teach them the correct path doesn’t mean they will walk in it.

        • Karen Butler


          The place for ministry to those at risk children and parents is not the public schools — it is the church, which can offer one on one mentoring for both parents and the children.

  • Rob

    Do parents have a fundamental right to homeschool? Not until there are protections in place for the children who are subject to the whims and practices of their homeschooling parents.

    While good homeschooling outcomes contribute to a good Christian testimony; it’s equally true that a poor outcome leads to a poor Christian testimony. The Christian community needs to stop turning a blind eye to this truth.

    • Jennifer S

      What about protections in place for students subject to the whims and practices of a school district? What about the education recieved by students that is entirely focused on utility and little to no care for the individual child?

      I am not sure why your statement focuses on Christian homeschooling – non-Christians homeschool too.

      While good public school outcomes contribute to a good education, it is equally true that a poor outcome contributes to the life of a child. Our government needs to stop turning a blind eye to the failing skill set of our children!

    • Oinia

      Sorry Rob, but by your reasoning parents don’t have a right to parent their children at all until the government regulates their “whims and practices.”

      Are you reasonably certain you want the government dictating whether parents can, or cannot, teach their own children? Consider what you’re suggesting.

    • Jason

      I speak with first hand experience, I am a 30-something home schooled individual who spent half of his education in public school and the other half in a home schooling environment. Let me tell you folks… This is a multi-faceted issue. However, when the chaff is blown off and the real core of the discussion remains, Christians must place our responsibility to God before any responsibility to man, regardless of the consequences. Public school is not Biblical, period. We would not be having this discussion if there was no public school with their “values” of humanism which are driven into the minds of children daily. Without a foundation on Biblical principles there is no functional self-government. Make no mistake, there will never be a successful person with reasonable morality and generally correct decision making unless their life is lived with a submission to God the Father and His Holy Word. I don’t doubt that many will disagree, to you I ask that you read I Corinthians 2:12 & 13. It’s time that all of you, my dear Brothers and Sisters in the Body of Christ, take on the full responsibility of creating good adults, not solely for the purpose of a “better America” or “more wonderful world”, but for the task of serving God and then edifying others around them via the natural inclination of a God-fearing individual with a largely successful self-government system within their heart and mind. This world is deteriorating, and it is doing so for a reason. Putting your children in side by side with unbelievers, to be taught the doctrines of an unbelieving society will not stop the world from continuing to embrace humanism, which is the driving factor towards the failure of human government systems.

      • Jennifer S

        I very much agree Jason.

  • Oinia

    Religious rights only belong to groups, not individuals?

    – Who belongs to religious groups, if not individuals? Maybe…pineapples. Or subhuman wage earners.

    – How can group rights be upheld while the individuals who make up the group have their rights denied?

    Let me put it this way: a group of people is an abstraction, whereas individuals are real. Obama’s DOJ wants to take rights away from real people and transfer them to an abstraction. This is nonsensical, illogical, impracticable, immoral, and unjust. You can’t even express the idea in a way that makes sense. But there it is, the official position of this administration being defended in court.

  • Ryan B

    What is the most important thing to teach your children? I am being serious. What is the most important thing children should know? My wife and I answer this question very different than the government would answer it. Do everyone’s children get saved before entering school? I don’t think you can say that they are really sending forth the gospel to the dark world in kindergarten. But they do tell children about how the world could end with global warming we don’t do something soon. We sent my oldest child to Kindergarten and found out that he was taught that until a year after we began homeschooling. Yes there are people that abuse homeschooling but government education does more damage than those slothful parents who don’t do it well. The supposition that the government can do it better than parents is very dangerous.

    • Melody

      My youngest children are in high school and they do not believe in global warming. Neither do my grown children that have been to liberal universities (what university isn’t?). They do not believe in evolution or any of the other anti-God point of views. It is possible to teach children discernment while they are young.
      My children learned to interact with other children that came from different backgrounds. They learned empathy and kindness towards people that were different. They learned how to submit to authority figures that do not deserve respect for any other reason than God says.

      I believe that parents should have a right to home-school.

      Unfortunately too many of them teach their children what they think but do not teach the kids how to think for themselves. Until I meet more home-school teens that show some discernment you will never convince me that it is the only way to lead your children.

      • Ryan B


        Your comment:
        “Unfortunately too many of them teach their children what they think but do not teach the kids how to think for themselves.”

        I find that this comment is not just about homeschooled children but people in general. I believe that the people reading posts here at TGC are “thinking” people and are different than most of general public including alot of the crowd at church. I am a manager at a Christian boostore and meet people everyday who have swallowed the lie that they need someone to tell them how to think. They need a commentary because the Bible is “too difficult” without it. This attitude is rampant in our churches and society and is precisely why people believe we shouldn’t homeschool. They have the excuse It is too difficult to teach myself let alone my children. We should let “professionals” do it.

        I find it amazing when I meet children as you describe them. Children that have been in public school and are now firm believers in Jesus relying solely on Him and His word. You must of done a very good job parenting.

        I don’t want to convince you to homeschool just stand up for the right to when the government says that parents don’t know what is best for their kids. That will affect you and your grandchildren just as much as it will mine.

        • Melody

          No I gave birth to sinners. It is because of the Holy Spirit that they have the faith that they do.

          The people that want a commentary are seeking wise counsel. That is a good thing. They are seeking to know more and Jesus promises that will be answered. And it keeps you in a job too; I might add. It is the people that do not open their bibles because they say they are too busy that are the sad cases.

          I don’t care if you home school. I do know that the more that home school parents take a superior attitude, the more they alienate those that would come to their defense. It should make all of them stop and think about that before they start naming off why home schooling is better. Hopefully it’s not too late. It’s a pretty rude subject online.

          • Ryan B

            I didn’t mean to lead to the impression that I think getting wise counsel is bad. I mean to say that we can know the scriptures and have no need for reliance or dependance on others to know His holy word.

            I apologize if you thought I had a “superior attitude”. I believe it was more of a defensive attitude, as it is my freedom that is threatened.

            Thanks for interesting comments and discussion.

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  • John M. Moes

    The US Constitution guarantees four freedoms: Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Teachers and students in school use speech, they use products of the press, and it is impossible to avoid determining what is religious or not.
    But the greatest loss of freedom has to do with freedom of assembly. If a dictator forces me to pay money for education and then refuses to give me the money I need to educate, simply because I don’t assemble where his speech, press or religion is being taught, then I have lost all my freedoms.
    I’m in favor of schools where there no agent of government, including courts, that controls what will be believed, what will be said, what media of the press will be used, or where teacher and student will assemble. Schools where the state has no control over those parts of the education process are the only ones the state is free to support. Teachers are not agents of the state but of the parents.
    I once asked a judge of a state supreme court this question: Judge, suppose a matter came up and the question was, “Is this religious?”, who would have the final say on that question? After a long pause he opined that it would probably be his court.
    My response was, But that would be the state establishing that as its religion. My Bible says, “Whether you eat or whether to drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” I Corinthians 10:31. Disagreeing with that is just as much a religion as agreeing is. There is not a moment in any school that the activity is not guided by some kind of religious position or worldview.
    That puts all schools outside of state jurisdiction under the US Constitution. We may need an Educational Amendment to the Constitution that makes the four freedoms apply more specifically to schools, not just in general, so that no branch of government can erode those freedoms. When we lose them in school we lose them everywhere.

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  • Autumn

    I am quite surprised at how many people on this thread are quite happy to put their trust in some Government agency or person to decide whether a parent is fit to educate their own children! Scary……. I admire your concern……. However, I do think it would be more prudent to perhaps worry about all of the children who are born into abusive, sub-standard homes…… The children who suffer all sorts of mental, physical or sexual abuse! After all, the last time I checked there was no criteria for determining whether someone is “fit to procreate” …… Anybody can have a baby!! Or do we want to entrust some government entity deciding that as well???
    I am home educating my children. I can tell you the LAST thing I am concerned about is keeping pace with the failing public school system! We do live in Pennsylvania , so we are subjected to some of the strictest regulations in the country. Completely annoying, but manageable ……

    • Sue

      No, we don’t have criteria to determine whether or not prospective parents are fit to bring children into this world; but we do have a process to take away those rights if said children are the victims of abuse or neglect, right?

      I believe that some of what passes for homeschooling IS a form of neglect and children DO deserve protection from poor homeschooling practices. Parents (and teachers) do NOT have fundamental rights to neglect schooling in such a way that it leads to the inability of children to find meaningful work as adults – meaningful to the child – not the parent.

      Amy’s original post confirmed that her homeschooling peers who were the victims of poor homeschooling practices are having a very difficult time finding employment. How does this benefit society, the family, or the church?

      • Autumn

        You do not take away the freedom of many who ARE doing it right to find the FEW who are not…. Child protective services doesn’t have the right to come and check out every home just to be sure there is no abuse happening…. So why should those of us who are doing a wonderful job of home educating our children be subjected to intense regulations and scrutiny by the state?? Or have to “prove our abilities” before we can teach our own children?? As I said … I home educate in Pennsylvania …. I have to jump through quite a few hoops to meet state requirements. It is really bothersome to think that the superintendent of my school district has the power to say whether or not all the hard work we put into our school year is up to standard! Especially when they know nothing about me or my children. I certainly don’t get to go into the school and check out the students test scores and end of year reports to see if they are up to snuff! Yet I pay taxes in the district without utilizing any of the services.

  • Tim

    This is an issue of freedom…not an issue of which system is better. I was homeschooled, public schooled and Christian schooled and now I’m a homeschool dad. Truth be told, there is no hard set rule. As a pastor people ask me all the time whether they should homeschool or not. The issue is whether or not you are going to be able to instil a proper worldview into your children. For some, they can’t do it unless they are at home. For some, they are really involved with their children’s education and are able to engage with their children so well that it doesn’t matter which style of school they are in. That is up to the parent which is the point of this article. It should be the parents choice where they believe that can best be accomplished. Some people think they can best accomplish this homeschooling and they don’t accomplish much. They teach their children an anti-gospel moralism worldview which is just as damaging as any other secular worldview. And there are some that think their kids will be taught best by exposure…they have good intentions of asking their kids questions daily and working through worldview questions with them, but when it comes time to practice their ideal situation, they are too busy and drop the ball. Both ideologies take a disciplined resolution to affect their kids for the Glory of God. Sadly, for most, it’s just too much work…that’s what youth group and Sunday School is for (yes, I mean that sarcastically).

    And I’m not sure which person commented on the fact that they know many homeschoolers having a hard time getting jobs as a reason not to homeschool but that is just a mute point…if not misleading. I worked in the trades for ten year trying to pay my way through bible college and Seminary and still raising a family. I never had the opportunity to work with a homeschooler. Every single person I ever worked with (which was hundreds) was a public school grad with the exception of one. I can tell you that I worked with many men…some recent high school grads…who couldn’t even read a tape measure. They were generally lazy (with the exception of just a few) and almost all of them were dishonest with their time, and undisciplined. I’m not saying that was because they were public schooled…I’m just saying the only reason some of them had a job was because they had a diploma. Many homeschooled kids don’t have the diploma. That is the reason they have a hard time getting a job. Not because they aren’t adequate for the work. We have a kid in our church that was homeschooled who is a chemical engineer who is currently doing an internship at a major engineering firm. So the “they can’t get jobs” things has nothing to do with their unpreparedness. That is just misleading. I also owned my own business and I can say that the public school is not pumping out the finest of young kids…so again, a mute point.

    The same could be said of Homeschoolers too. My point is that the issue is with the parents, not the model of education. Be on purpose with your kids parents.

  • Amy

    Karen, your passion for homeschooling is commendable! They need advocates. I am not anti-homeschooling at all; I want to stress that. I have even contemplated homeschooling my own children (although I’m not yet a mother). I know that I would want to steward my children well, as gifts from God, and would welcome the idea of being held accountable in that stewardship. I simply believe that the greater the responsibility, the greater the need for accountability. This goes for myriad things, not merely homeschooling. I won’t change my mind about that part, but I do appreciate the information you gave me and I will definitely look into it!

  • Amy

    P.S. to Karen. Also, I wanted to stress that I tried to make it very clear in the comment you responded to that I humbly admit I don’t know the best way to ensure homeschooling children are receiving a proper education. As I noted, there are college-educated adults I know who I do not believe are fit to teach, and there are quite brilliant and gifted people who only a GED. I also admitted that I don’t know if yearly testing would be beneficial or not, only that it was the only thing I could think of. Sadly, I only have noticed the holes in the system that I went through, and do not yet have the wisdom to know the answers. I hope God will grant me that discernment sooner rather than later, and pray for the wisdom that comes from above daily. :)

  • Karen Butler

    I was hard on you, Amy. I’m sorry! You are right, you did say you were not pretending to give any answers. I guess it was hard for me to hear your criticisms as a one-time barely surviving homeschooling mom –but our little school has persevered under great pressure, and we have seen a good reward from our efforts.
    Perhaps churches should be more involved with the homeschools in their midst, and a parent’s lack of diligence in educating their children should be seen as a matter subject to church discipline. Because these parents *are* exasperating their children.

    As for being passionate about homeschooling, not at all! I am ans indifferent spokesman. I don’t even feature it as a category on my blog. The articles I linked to above were criticisms of the homeschooling community’s embrace of the child abusing practices promoted by Michael Pearl.

    My passions are for sharing the gospel, and I begin with my children first. I am surprised that on this thread I became homeschooling’s most vocal advocate. I thought champions for it would come out in droves, and I could shrug off the mantle of spokesperson. Go figure!

    Again, I am so sorry for being harsh with you. Please forgive me.

  • Amy

    Karen, your apology is unnecessary, but of course you are forgiven! I was only concerned that I had been unclear. It sounds as if you are a wonderful mother though; your children are very blessed to have someone so devoted to stewarding them and their education so well.

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