I have a confession to make about being a secular homeschooler. Religion is one of the reasons I homeschool. I wouldn’t say it’s high on my list, but when I tell people that religion has nothing to do with why I decided to homeschool, that’s not 100% true.
First, some background about me and religion. I was raised in what I would call a Christian left church. What? You’ve only heard of the Christian right? No, I assure you, there is a Christian left, they’re just much smaller. I was baptized into a Baptist church that was booted out by the Southern Baptists for holding a blessing for a gay marriage. I adored that church. I worked in a Quaker school for many years, one that really was Quaker, and that also has a deep influence on my spiritual journey. My family currently attends a Unitarian Church in our neighborhood. I really like the community there and I value that it’s a diverse place with amazing music and great preaching. I don’t think the Unitarians completely fit me spiritually. I like our church, but I still find the philosophy too nebulous. All of this is just to say that religion, specifically the type of Christianity I was raised in, is important to me.
I chose homeschooling because I think the vast majority of schools get education wrong in so many ways. When I talk about what made me homeschool, it’s usually a discussion about test-driven curricula and institutional thinking. However, another way I think schools get it wrong is on the subject of religion. It’s almost cliche to say it, but freedom of religion isn’t the same as freedom from religion. The problem is that schools are so black and white about everything in life and that includes religion. Schools, or teachers within schools, are either inappropriately proselytizing religion or condemning every expression of it, neither of which is something I can condone. Not to mention the fact that religion, whether you believe in one or not, is a subject that’s essential to understanding history and literature. To be culturally literate (a term that I have mixed feelings about, but I’ll still toss it out), you need to understand religion, yet schools avoid it or treat it like math formulas to be memorized then quickly move on from before anyone gets their feelings hurt or their ideas challenged. I believe discussion of religion and God is part of a whole education, a piece that would be missing if I sent my kids to most schools.
So while I wouldn’t put religion high on the list of reasons why I homeschool, just like many people who choose to homeschool primarily for religious reasons, one of the things I value about homeschooling is the ability to introduce my kids to spirituality in the way that I think is best, not in the way the schools think is best, especially not in the way the government schools think is best.