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March 11, 2013 3:04 PM Not All Evangelical Christians Are Cool with Those Creationism Textbooks

By Daniel Luzer

This is a point that I’ve tried to make before: just because they’re evangelical Christians doesn’t mean they’re fundamentalists. It also doesn’t mean they’re idiots. While it’s true that the majority of families home-schooling their children are doing so for religious reasons, it’s often more about being able to teach religion as part of a daily lessons, and avoid the perceived sinfulness of the world. It’s not all about hostility toward science. If only textbook publishers were on board:

It’s no secret that the majority of homeschooled children in America belong to evangelical Christian families. What’s less known is that a growing number of their parents are dismayed by these textbooks [designed for Christians homeschooling their children].
Take Erinn Cameron Warton, an evangelical Christian who homeschools her children. Warton, a scientist, says she was horrified when she opened a homeschool science textbook and found a picture of Adam and Eve putting a saddle on a dinosaur. “I nearly choked,” says the mother of three. “When researching homeschooling curricula, I found that the majority of Christian homeschool textbooks are written from this ridiculous perspective. Once I saw this, I vowed never to use them.” Instead, Warton has pulled together a curriculum inspired partly by homeschool pioneer Susan Wise Bauer and partly by the Waldorf holistic educational movement.

AdamEveDino

She’s not alone.

For many evangelical families, the rationale for homeschooling has nothing to do with a belief in Young Earth Creationism or a rejection of evolutionary theory. Some parents choose to homeschool because they’re disenchanted with the values taught in the public school system. Others want to incorporate more travel into their children’s education. Still others want to implement specific learning techniques they believe are more suitable for their children.

The movement appears to be relatively small so far, however. And people homeschooled using young earth textbooks do end up matriculating at real colleges. And even most evangelical Christian colleges do not teach, and do not accept, an Adam-and-Eve-riding-dinosaurs view of world history. Explaining real biology to home school graduates is apparently a common feature of the first few biology classes at Christian colleges.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • Walker on March 11, 2013 6:35 PM:

    The homeschooling movement has always been bimodal. You have the religious families, sure. But another group of homeschooled students are children of highly educated parents who feel disenfranchised by the local school system (e.g. PhDs in a small, rural town). This latter group does quite well, and is sought after in college admissions.

    It also has its own material and textbooks. If these evangelical homeschoolers want quality materials, they can use those.

  • Ebenezer Scrooge on March 11, 2013 7:06 PM:

    Question:

    Which academic course in the high school curriculum treads most forcefully on Christian values? As Mr. Luzer just pointed out, it's not biology. I excluded sex ed with the qualification that the course be academic. It's not math, chemistry, or physics, either.

    History? You're getting a bit warmer. Much of modern European history is unavoidably a history of de-Christianization. But then again, anybody who knows their Bible is familiar with the cycle of generations losing touch with their God, so it won't be much of an attack on well-held Christian values.

    Given up? The prize goes to--economics--the science that glorifies alienation from our fellows in pursuit of our own interests. Unlike Islam and Judaism--both of which regulate and to some extent sacralize commerce (Islam more than Judaism)--Christ never was all that happy with any form of homo economicus. This looks like a no-brainer to me, unless you can get comfortable with some form of MBA Jesus. Which is largely what the Christian right has done. Which is largely why I can't take those asshats seriously.

  • Crissa on March 12, 2013 9:59 PM:

    Hospitality? I think you meant hostility.

    Then again, you have someone arguing against economics as a comment. I think they need to learn that it's Christians leading the least advocacy in knowledge and application of social justice - and economics. Nowhere in the bible does Jesus say, 'and thou mustn't know economics, for thou must be a capitalist.' or whatever the point is. Economics doesn't advocate any particular point, even if some schools do.

  • low-tech cyclist on March 13, 2013 11:27 AM:

    Explaining real biology to home school graduates is apparently a common feature of the first few biology classes at Christian colleges.

    Just goes to show that even most evangelical Christian college perfessers are closet libruls. ;-)