Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2009 Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) "Men's Leadership Summit," Part I

It was two weeks ago this past weekend that CHEC (Christian Home Educators of Colorado) sponsored its second "Men's Leadership Summit"--an event held not in Colorado, but in Indiana, at one of the hotels owned by Bill Gothard's group.

Before I say any more, let me note:

Up until very recently, I wouldn't have noticed what CHEC was doing. The organization was very much off my radar. Even all last year, despite CHEC having the reputation of being the largest homeschool advocacy group in our family's home state; and despite their having banned our family's company from attending their conference, CHEC was way off my radar. I "just" really didn't pay much attention to what CHEC was doing.

And then--I think it was while I was on vacation in January and I began to read some of the books written by Christian evolutionists, and I began to realize how blind I had been to the concerns of an entire "wing" of the evangelical church--suddenly I became alarmed that we homeschoolers are having our educational options censored. As I wrote on January 20: Are you being treated like a child? Who controls what you get to hear?

So CHEC came onto my radar.

And then several people brought to my attention that I was not the only one concerned about CHEC. Indeed, they pointed out, CHEC seems to be part of--or becoming part of--a much bigger movement toward "patriarchy" or "patriocentricity."

As I followed the links, sometime in February I came across this post about a conference coming up in early March: The Vision of the Leadership Summit.

I agreed with "That Mom," the author of the blog post that brought this to my attention: it's rather disturbing to realize that the "leaders" of this "Leadership Summit" are themselves relative Johnny-come-latelies to the homeschool movement . . . and they are all men. Where are the women--the ones who are actually doing (a conservative) 90% of the work involved in homeschooling the kids?

[By the way: I didn't find this till today, but if you want a really disturbing follow-through to ThatMom's post, check out Cindy Kunsman's Under Much Grace post that, because, apparently, Cindy has suffered spiritual abuse in the past, focuses on some of the manipulative methods these "leaders" use.]

Considering the other issues I had been dealing with at that time, I decided I had to get an "inside look" at what was about to take place at the conference. And, happily, I did.

I didn't attend in person. But I got the recordings, and an eye-witness account, and the one document I was most concerned to see: the "Manifesto for Christian Education."

I thought you might be interested in what I found.

First. Some consistent themes throughout the conference [ETA on 3/29/09: as reported by my informant].

  • Reformation
  • The father is responsible for discipling his family. [Okay. Whatever that means. Does that mean he has to do it all? What is the appropriate role of the mother? And what of the use of resources outside the family? No answers. --JAH]
  • The phrase we should use is Home Discipleship not Home Education or Homeschooling. We ought not to be preparing our children for Harvard . . . but (instead) for heaven. [Of course, a lot rides on the definition of discipleship. Back in college, I certainly appreciated the emphasis the Navigators made on "making disciples," "being disciples," "finding [our] Timothys," and so forth. Of course, the supposed dichotomy between “Harvard” and “heaven” is completely unnecessary. I believe Christians should be preparing their children to engage the world, whether they choose to go to college or not. But to completely cede the academic world to non-Christians means Christians also cede any and all hope of ever providing true cultural leadership. --How far we will have fallen, if that's the case! From the founders of most of the leading educational institutions around the world, Christians, apparently--according to these "movement leaders"--are to shun the very institutions they founded.

    Strange, too, from my perspective: Each of these "leaders" is, himself, a highly-educated person--enjoying not just a high school education, but a college and post-graduate degree! . . . But they feel their own children are unable to match them?]

  • "Biblical Manhood and Womanhood." [Of course, what biblical manhood and womanhood should look like is matter of broad controversy within the church today. But, as we will see, these "vision-casting leaders" have one very particular view . . . and one with which I am not particularly comfortable.]
  • The rise of feminism in culture, the church, and the homeschooling movement. We can expect judgment from God as a result. [Hmmmm! Wonder what they really mean when they speak of "feminism"?]
  • God should be integrated into every subject we teach. [Okay. Deuteronomy 6:6 and 7 and 11:18 and 19: "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." We who claim the name of Christ need to consciously live our lives under God in every area of life--not only in our personal ethics, but in our cultural exploits as well. We need to seek God's "wisdom from above" (James 1:5; 3:13-17) in all we do and say. . . . and we need to teach our children to do this--and how to do this--as well.]
  • We should teach the "City of God" rather than the "City of Man." [As one of my friends commented: "This needs some elaboration. Are they just referring to Augustine, for instance, or do they mean something else? The way it is presented here makes it a possibly false dichotomy. It also suggests somewhat a strong separationist approach rather than an engagement or transformational approach to the Christian role in culture."]
  • There was no mention of our daughters or the daughter as a leader. The only mention of the daughter was to train them to be moms and supportive spouses.

    In an open forum Friday night, one of the participants at the conference asked three questions of Doug Phillips related to this obvious missing piece. One of the questions specifically asked for Phillips' views concerning a woman’s ability to have a career in addition to being a great mom and a great spouse. Phillips' response indicated that he believes it is unbiblical for a woman to have a career. Period. No discussion of any exceptions or options.[This really blows me away. Not that, after having become somewhat familiar with Phillips views, I am shocked to hear him actually say such a thing. Rather, I am astonished that he can suggest, with a straight face, that Christians should adopt such a view as normative for all without exception.

    I take it he thinks St. Paul must have been horribly mistaken to list the seven or eight women he does among the "workers in the Lord" he specially greets at the end of the book of Romans (chapter 16): Prisca (Priscilla), Mary, Junia (female name, or, possibly, Junias, a masculine name), Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Julia, and the sister of Nereus. And, of course, he seems to ignore the Proverbs 31 woman who engages in all kinds of commercial ventures, buys real estate, earns enough from some venture to plant vineyards . . . and is educated enough that she can "open her mouth in wisdom" (see especially, vv. 13-14, 16, 19, 24, and 26).

    Sarita, my wife, reminded me, too, of the phenomenal growth of women's mission societies in America between 1861 and 1910 and the multiplication of single American women missionaries . . . and the subsequent decline of the societies (though not quite as dramatic a decline in the number of female missionaries) as soon as men decided they needed to "take over" and "provide leadership." [That story is worthy of its own post, so I'll hold off telling it here.]

    I ask myself: Where does this kind of dominionist stance toward women end? When daughters are no longer permitted to learn how to drive?1 When wives are disciplined through spanking? (By the way: Notice the subtitle on the Links page of the immediately preceding reference: "Christian Domestic Discipline - Loving Wife Spanking in a Christian Marriage"! Why is it wives who must receive this kind of treatment? Men never deserve to be disciplined? --Oh! Sorry! I guess I'm showing my feminist side. . . . ) --But truly: Where does this kind of thing end?]
Bill Roach, CHEC's president, introduced each speaker at the Summit. According to my source, before he introduced Kevin Swanson for Thursday Evening Session I, he said, "This weekend is to define what Christian Home Education is and to strategize our next moves." My correspondent said he never heard a "final" definition of Christian Home Education. "I got a bunch of people’s opinion, but nothing that said, 'Yea, verily, this is Christian Home Education and here are the next steps to implementing.'"

1 And now I realize who it was that was a popular speaker on the homeschool circuit a few years ago and who was preaching, as a keynote speaker at these conventions, that parents ought not to teach their daughters how to drive but leave it to their [future] husbands to decide whether they should learn. Yep. The author of the referenced article: Jonathan Lindvall. Keynote speaker at CHEC (and other conventions) in 2003.

Burqas, anybody? Human chattel? Is this what CHEC and some of the other self-declared Christian state homeschool groups are leading us toward? Such speakers are so important to be heard that they receive keynote speaker status . . . without apology? Return to text.

Next post in this series: CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit," Part II--"For Such a Time as This -- The 1000-Year Battle Over the Hearts and Minds of the Next Generation".
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