by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
As I previously noted, it was not until we moved to Indiana that I grasped why most evangelical folks would not object to nor protest what went on in government schools.
In Indiana we found and attended an evangelical Presbyterian church because it was the only Reformed church we could find in the immediate area. We found a Christian school for our son to enter. Our daughter would not be ready for school for another year yet. Our son had previously been in a Baptist school in West Virginia. The new school in Indiana wasn’t everything we could have hoped for but it was still better than a government school. At least we felt that way–many of the folks in the church we attended were not quite sure of that. Just about all the families that attended this church had their kids in government schools, which they were quite satisfied with. And they thought our kids would be much better off in a government school than in a Christian school. I hope, at this point, no one tries to tell me the Christian faith in this country hasn’t been tampered with.
I think many of the people in our church in Indiana probably felt we were a little weird and as I talked to some of them I found that many, if not most, of their political convictions were not mine–and mine would never be theirs. I had seen too much to take their Pollyanna approach. I had a basic distrust of government. They thought I should love government.
After the time we had spent in West Virginia there was no way under Heaven our kids would go to a government school. They disagreed. They thought government schools were just great. They talked about how the local government schools had great sports and music programs and how our kids would benefit from all that. Although I didn’t say it out loud, my first thought at those sentiments was “I’m going to sell my kid’s souls for a good music program???” When I tried to tell them some of what I had seen in West Virginia it was simply beyond their ability to grasp. They couldn’t, or wouldn’t, believe the government education system would ever do what I described to them. Surely I must have been mistaken, or misunderstood what was being done down there.
They simply could not grasp the idea of little old ladies with broken shoulders and their arms in slings because the local and county law enforcement had hit them with billy clubs while they were breaking up textbook protest meetings. That simply was beyond their ken.
I recall one court hearing I attended, where the local gendarmes had arrested several protesters and one of them was one of the major protest leaders. His “crime” had been to talk to one of the police officers, asking them, please to not do what they were doing to these people. When the officer who had arrested him took the stand he could not even tell anyone what he had arrested the preacher for. He was asked several times by a lawyer that had been brought in to help the protesters and he remained mute–no reply. Justice in West Virginia! But the folks in our Indiana church didn’t want to hear any of this. The government school system would never do what I said went on in West Virginia–end of conversation! So ours was most definitely the minority opinion in our church, but then, I guess that didn’t surprise me all that much. Mine has been the minority opinion most of the places I have been in my life.
But the education question never totally went away, and at one point, we even got them to agree to listen to the headmaster of our Christian school one Sunday evening after prayer service. At that time, the headmaster of the Christian school our kids went to was from Southern Indiana and he described himself as a “Jeffersonian Democrat.” He and I had many viewpoints in common, educationally and otherwise. Although the church folks listened to what he had to say that Sunday evening about Christian education, they didn’t really buy it, and you could tell from the comments that followed. If we wanted to do it, well, we were a bit odd anyway so it was “probably okay” but they weren’t having any. The following year he left the school and went back to Southern Indiana, for some pressing reason, I don’t just recall why at this point. The headmaster that replaced him was less satisfactory. He was a nice guy, but he didn’t know upside down from inside out and seemed to think he had it all figured out. He had a long way to go.
Awhile after that, due to circumstances I will not go into here, we switched schools and our kids ended up in a school run by a Nazarene church in a nearby town. Now these folks were doctrinally far away from us, but again, the school headmaster there had learned to think outside the box and he had read some of the same material by R. J. Rushdoony and others that I had read, so whatever doctrinal differences we might have had, we shared the same worldview when it came to Christian education.
In each of these Christian school situations we had needed help with tuition. My wife and I both worked, but we didn’t make lots of money–no fat checks coming in from George Soros or the Rockefellers every month, and it wasn’t easy. It was a sacrifice for us even with help.
Yet, how many evangelicals did we run into in Indiana that “just couldn’t afford a Christian education” for their kids? They had two cars in the garage and a television screen in the living room that covered half of one wall, but a Christian education for their kids was simply “unaffordable.” I said to my wife on several occasions “We are probably the poorest family in the church and yet we can, with help, manage it. Why can’t some of them?” Actually, it was a matter of priorities. For most evangelical Christians in this country Christian education is just not a real big priority.
However, one year, we reached a point where there was no more help with tuitions available–anywhere. So, at that point, we had to make a decision as to where we would go from there. For us it was not all that difficult. The government school was never an option, and so we started checking into home schooling programs. When the church we were attending heard that, some of them went through the roof! They were willing to tolerate us with out kids in a Christian school, even though they would have rather had them in a public school, but when we decided to home school them, we had moved beyond the pale. That was just too much!
To be continued.