The Coming Attack On Homeschooling And Educational Freedom?

One of the unexpected outcomes of the Covid-19 shutdown/quarantine has been the widespread turn to homeschooling. Parents are being asked en masse to become intimately involved (again) with the education their children. For some parents, it means making sure that their children have access to an online platform. For many parents, however, the quarantine has thrown them into homeschooling. Thousands of American households are suddenly little schools, laboratories, and gymnasiums (or gymnasia). For thousands of other families, however, the shift to homeschool happened intentionally. Ours was one of those families. We did not set out to become homeschoolers. Our eldest began her education in a church-related school while we were in the UK. When we returned to the USA, we found that she had begun in what was, more or less, first grade and the local school wanted her to go start over in kindergarten. We tried that but it was clearly not working so we tried homeschooling and it worked well enough that we never stopped. Both children did well, arguably better than they would have done in a traditional school. Both scored well on standardized tests and found themselves taking courses at the local community college and one of the local state universities before they earned scholarships and went for their undergraduate eduction, where they did well. Both are pursuing professional careers. They have different personalities, interests, and gifts but are widely traveled and at speak least three languages beside English. Both learned Latin. One taught Latin briefly. Both are musicians and one of them is a professional musician. They took riding lessons, played basketball, studied martial arts and dance. Their education was superior to anything offered by the local public school and they got their education without fear of violence from within or without the school. They had many opportunities for socialization and wanted for nothing academically.

This is not to say that this is the way it is for all homeschoolers but as the product of the American public schools of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s (if we include state universities) I am mystified at the portrait of homeschool being peddled to American elites. Consider the recent article in Harvard Magazine in which Erin O’Donnell warns of “The Risks of Homeschooling.” Typically, magazines and conferences require planning such that it seems unlikely that both the article and the upcoming Harvard Law conference on homeschool were designed to respond to the surge in homeschooling due to Covid-19. Nevertheless, the coincidence of the conference and the article with the quarantine are remarkable.

O’Donnell reports that about the same percentage of children are now homeschooled as are enrolled in charter schools (about 3-4%). According to one report, as of 2015, about 10% of American elementary and secondary school children were educated in private schools. Some homeschool students may be included in that 10% figure but how the two relate is not clear. Nevertheless, close to 90% of all primary and secondary school children are educated in publicly-funded schools controlled by school boards. Still, this hegemony is not enough for O’Donnell nor for her primary source for the article, Elizabeth Bartholet, J.D., who holds an endowed chair in Harvard Law. She complains that homeschooling is unregulated, that students are isolated, potential victims of abuse, potential future survivalists, Christians removed from mainstream culture, and protected by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. O’Donnell (who has really just strung together quotations from Bartholet, writes,

Bartholet maintains that parents should have “very significant rights to raise their children with the beliefs and religious convictions that the parents hold.” But requiring children to attend schools outside the home for six or seven hours a day, she argues, does not unduly limit parents’ influence on a child’s views and ideas. “The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous,” Bartholet says. “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

Bartholet concedes “No doubt there are some parents who are motivated and capable of giving an education that’s of a higher quality and as broad in scope as what’s happening in the public school” but she doubts that many are.

As the product of the Omaha Public Schools and the Lincoln Public Schools (and the University of Nebraska) I guess that I have as much experience with public school as Bartholet. Breadth was not a feature of my public school education. I did learn how to fight, however. I did not begin to learn how to learn until my third year in university when my introductory Logic professor taught us how to memorize, something I should have learned in primary school. The radical changes, the turn from the objective to the subjective, from the effective to the affective, ushered into public schools in the 50s and 60s had begun to take hold by the time I arrived in school. I am fortunate that I learned phonics and once I could read, I could teach myself. Beyond that, my education was pedestrian. The Deweyite revolution effectively destroyed education by the 1970s and it has only become worse since then.

Bartholet’s concerns are not justified in O’Donnell’s article they are merely asserted. To respond to them briefly:

  • The reason the HSLDA is well funded and effective is because they win in court not because they are, as the article implies, bullies. Thousands of American families rely on them for legal protection precisely because of the sort ill-informed speculations in articles such as these.
  • Homeschooling is hardly unregulated. It is true that in a federal republic, the states and local school districts do approach homeschooling differently but “unregulated” is hyperbole. In many places homeschoolers have to jump through a considerable number of hoops.
  • One wonders if she was worried about the hippies removing their children from bourgeois conformist, middle-class culture in the 1960s and 70s? I guess not. Conservative Christians and other types of homeschoolers, after all, learned about this approach to education from the hippies. One gets the sense that were we to change the term “Christian” to another sub-group, the steam would evaporate from this article.
  • Survivalists? Has Bartholet ever met a homeschooling group? If reading Tolkein and Harry Potter is an indicator of future terrorists, I suppose but I doubt the correlation.
  • Abuse victims? In 2017 the AP reported that there were 17,000 sexual assaults upon students by other students. The sexual assault by public teachers and staff of students has become such an issue that, in February of this year, the Department of Education announced an initiative to address it. The Secretary of Education said, “We hear all too often about innocent children being sexually assaulted by an adult at school. That should never happen. No parent should have to think twice about their child’s safety while on school grounds,” said Secretary DeVos. “That’s why I’ve directed our OCR team to tackle the tragic rise of sexual misconduct complaints in our nation’s K-12 campuses head on. Through compliance reviews and raising public awareness about what’s actually happening in too many of our nation’s schools, we can build on the good work we’re already doing to enforce Title IX and protect students. We cannot rest until every student can learn in a safe, nurturing environment where their civil rights are protected.” One organization which is actively calling for more oversight of homeschooled children, in the interests of protecting them from abuse, admits: “This finding does not yet reach the threshold for statistical significance, so at this point we cannot say conclusively that homeschooled students die from child abuse and neglect at a higher rate as other students.”
  • Isolated? This is the old socialization canard. I have been teaching homeschool graduates since 1995. I can usually tell when a student is homeschooled because he is better spoken, more polite, and a better student than the students who are educated in what I call the factory system—have you ever noticed the similarities between factories and schools? What I have seen in home school students is that they are able to talk to adults. Homeschoolers regularly form cooperatives so the children can socialize with other children. A good bit of research (introduced here) has debunked the myth of the unsocialized homeschooler

Remarkably, neither O’Donnell nor Bartholet raise the question of educational outcomes. Since schools are in the business of educating young people, one might have thought that educational outcomes matter in the discussion. One 2017 survey of the available peer-reviewed research suggests that homeschooled students do just as well academically as conventionally educated children. As of 2017 there were about 2.7 million children being homeschooled and many of the studies were dated.

Bartholet has published a lengthy essay in the Arizona Law Review (62.1), which is about as poorly argued as the précis published in Harvard Magazine.1 The same unsubstantiated concerns and allegations appear. The argument relies to a surprising degree on anecdotal evidence and emotive language. Not surprisingly, the majority of the argument concerns regulation. This is the heart of the argument. Bartholet fears homeschooling and intends to frighten law makers into regulating it.

What does she want? “We need a change in the culture surrounding child rights generally and their rights to education and protection in particular. We need a new understanding of children’s constitutional and human rights, and related political and litigation campaigns.” “Current thinking about homeschooling issues,” she writes, “is generally skewed by assumptions that parents have powerfully protected rights under the federal Constitution in the education and protection arenas, while children do not” (emphasis original; p. 58).

Yes, this is as radical as it sounds. She appeals to international law (pp. 59–65), including Germany’s draconian restrictions against homeschooling, as a model for American law. She argues that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for her argument that children have “positive rights to education and protection” (p. 66) that can be used to marginalize homeschooling and to burden those who seek to homeschool. State constitutions, she notes, provide even greater authority for states to regulate homeschooling (pp. 69–72).

What more does she want?

States should impose significant restrictions on homeschooling. Legislatures should do this on their own initiative. But courts must make clear that the current regime violates children’s constitutional rights and that restrictions along the lines described below are required (emphasis original; p. 72).

What are those restrictions to be required (emphasis original)?

  1. General presumption against Homeschooling with Burden on Parents to Justify Exemptions
  2. To the degree that parents are granted exceptions to the general presumption against homeschooling, the following rules should apply

What she is proposing is something like what gun control advocates have achieved in blue states (e.g., NY, CN, NJ, CA) where the presumption is against the ownership of firearms and certainly against the carrying of them. She wants homeschoolers to have to justify (to whom she does not say) why homeschooling is necessary, why one’s child is different. The assumption is that the child is the creature of the state and not of the family. She writes, “[e]xceptions might include situations in which gifted artists or athletes want to pursue careers that demand flexibility inconsistent with normal schooling” (p.73). Standardized testing (i.e., academic performance) is not sufficient ground to be removed from her new regime.

Her “guiding principles” are that regulation “should be designed to guarantee that all homeschoolers receive “an adequate education,” i.e., “one roughly equivalent to public school education in terms of knowledge and skills taught.” Arguably, Bartholet is demanding state-enforced mediocrity.

Regulation, she writes, “should be designed with view to effective enforcement.” Systems must be “easy to implement” with “limited room for resistance” (p. 75). Yes, she wrote that clause. She wants tax dollars to fight the HSLDA. She wants homeschooling parents to submit “intended curriculum and education plan” for approval, annual submission by parents of their education credentials for review, and annual testing of homeschoolers. Low scores would trigger a requirement to enroll in school (pp. 75–76). “Inadequate compliance” would result in an order to transfer children to public school.

She also demands:

  • Mandatory home visits by school officials
  • Notification by CPS of parents who have been reported for suspected abuse
  • Background checks of homeschool parents and others involved in homeschooling
  • Presumptive rejection of application for permission to homeschool by anyone with a “problematic CPS or criminal history”
  • Mandatory vaccination and health-related requirements (p. 77)

In case you thought that you might evade her new regime by enrolling in a private school, she has plans for you too (p. 78). Private schools too often operate too far outside “the mainstream” and do not, in her view, educate children adequately. She wants greater restriction on private schools too.

It would be a mistake to think that Bartholet is a cranky Harvard academic, writing in a journal that few will read. This is a major essay by a professor in one of the top law schools in the USA. This essay will reinforce and validate the fears of policy makers and law makers. It will surely be featured at the upcoming conference at Harvard Law. These are culture-making and culture-shaping institutions. Today’s Harvard Law students are tomorrow’s congressional representatives, U.S. Senators, and governors. They are achievers. They have a plan for your life. Freedom and parental control of children is not on Bartholet’s agenda and it will not likely be on theirs.

What she does not tell you is that what is really at stake here (the Marxists have a point) is money. Every school-aged child in the USA represents a certain number of dollars to each school district. Enrolled students mean more dollars for the district. This equation gives them a powerful incentive to oppose homeschooling in favor of mandatory public schooling or at least rules that burden prospective homeschoolers enough to discourage them. These are tested, effective tactics.

What can you do?

  • Be aware. These sorts of challenges are coming.
  • Join HSLDA. Donate to HSLDA. There is a reason Bartholet fears HSLDA. They are effective. These battles will be fought in legislatures and court rooms.
  • Prepare. The is a matter of civil liberties. Bartholet et al. do not like you and they do not trust you. They think that you are illiterate and dangerous. They do not believe in what used to be called American values, e.g., your rights end where my nose begins. They are (self) righteous. They are crusaders. They are relentless. They have an (eschatological) vision for the future, where the brightest and the best are in charge of your daily life. The American ideal of freedom as the relative absence of state control is alien to their way of thinking.
  • Communicate. Homeschooling is not the marginal movement that it once was. It is much nearer the mainstream than it once was. This is due in part to the fact that what people have experienced for themselves contradicts the picture that Bartholet et al. seek to paint. Homeschoolers vote. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to candidates and legislators. Pay attention to your local school board.  Ultimately, Bartholet and her ilk will only be able to accomplish what voters let them accomplish.
  • Pray. Bartholet’s hostility to anything like historic Christianity is fairly patent. She has an alternative view of the world and its significance. That is a spiritual struggle that flesh and blood cannot affect. Only God the Spirit can change hearts and minds at the level at which they need to be changed.



Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection (June 17, 2019). 62 Ariz. L. Rev. 1 (2020); Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 19-23. Available at SSRN: or

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  1. Irony: That a law professor would make bold claims and be unable to make a case to defend them while saying that students who are homeschooled with be given sub-par education. Isn’t she supposed to be teaching future attorneys to be able research and build a case and she doesn neither?

  2. I think what is strangest about homeschooling is that many parents are indeed untrained, unprepared, and many probably do an all around poor job in educating their children… and yet the outcomes are still better on average than state schools!

    This suggests a few possibilities: 1) either the outcomes due to the high-achievers are so much greater than the public alternative that they more than compensate for those homeschoolers receiving a poor education due to parental neglect; or 2) state schools are a net negative for education.

    The above should be the most disturbing thing about the homeschooling phenomenon, rather than the few, pathetic cases that can be trotted out of the woods of rural Idaho.

  3. I teach in a large, Eastern public school system, and agree wholeheartedly that Nartholet’s plea is for a naked, unrestrained statism. I have taught history, government, ESOL, and Chinese language, sometimes successfully. I have a great appreciation for what many of many colleagues can do and are doing. But a large part of me thinks that my shop is becoming more of an institution than an instrument; and champions of Batholet wish to use it to consolidate power over the mass of the citizens.

    We no longer live in an era in which the average rural American is barely literate and the average urban resident barely able to string together a paragraph in English (although possibly quite literate in another language). The typical American parent of today is probably as adequately trained to handle his child’s education as the typical teacher. Add to this that the parent has a greater stake in the child’s well-being, safety, and success; that most parents are also embedded in a social nexus; and that legal questions often surround and cripple a school’s ability to provide services which parents may not be able to supply (a well-equipped chemistry lab, for instance, where a combination of high costs of materials and legal liabilities may preclude its being used) all serve to make homeschooling a credible alternative.

  4. As a member of the homeschool community in Wyoming (more remote than the woods of rural Idaho) for more than 11 years, and a homeschool parent for more than 18 years, I can say without doubt that nobody is fully trained or prepared for teaching a K-12 curriculum. But, as Dr. Clark points out, once someone learns to learn, nothing will stand in their way. We teach a modified classical trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and hammer the three “Rs” in the early years of our schooling. My wife and I are both very qualified in the liberal arts, not so much in math and science. Yet we just graduated a son to the university with a 33 on his math ACT. How? We taught him to learn, taught him the basics (grammar), and he then essentially taught himself in the subjects my wife and I are weak in. Our motto is, “Teach them to learn, and teach them to love learning.” Once that is accomplished, the world is their oyster, regardless of the preparation or training of the parents.

    As an aside, we have been members of HSLDA for almost 10 years, and, it is money well spent. They work on both the national and state levels and give solid advice in dealing with state laws and approaching districts and officials when it comes to homeschool protocols and practice. I wholeheartedly second Dr. Clark’s advice for homeschool parents to join HSLDA. I would add to that, if you have a local homeschool organization, join them as well.

  5. What’s really behind all of this is the “state” gradually losing its ability to indoctrinate children with pluralistic garbage such as LGBTA+ if they are not in public schools. We know this because we have grandchildren in public schools – in fact, in one of the more highly respected districts in the area – and they come home telling us that those are exactly the things being taught. Further, the state losing its ability to collect the funding for public schools if children are home schooled is not exactly accurate. I see where our tax dollars are spent every year and over 80% of them go to public schools. Parents who home school still have to pay those taxes. Parents who send their children to private schools still have to pay those taxes on top of the high cost of private school tuition.

    It’s all about controlling the future behavior of the population by propagandizing today’s children. This has been done before over the years by socialist and communist regimes. One of the most infamous was the Third Reich’s Hitler Youth program.

    • In Texas, property taxes are the main source of education funding. When I lived there, I remember looking at my tax bill and noticing 80% of it went to the local school district. I called the County Assessor and asked if, as a homeschooler, I could have that money back to use for supplies and books for my children being educated at home. She just laughed at me.

  6. As a now former homeschooling parent, Join HSLDA. We are still members, I think (my wife pays the dues) even though our need is long past. If the various levels of government response to COVID hasn’t convinced you that the tyrants (formally known as statists) want you, your children, and all that you are, then you need to pay attention. We are going to see a lot more tyranny here in the USA. Now that the tyrants have figured out how to weaponize ‘for the public good’ they will turn that on incorporated churches. Most incorporated churches justify themselves as tax-exempt because they are for the public good. Well, when the government comes knocking these churches will have to fold, as they already do by not speaking out on ‘political issues’. So the issue flagged here is larger and more deadly than most realize or believe.

    • Thanks for the link. BTW I am not an IBC guy, although I am a KJV guy (not KJVO). I find little snippets on this issue here and there, but this article was pretty good overall. There is a small Presbyterian Denomination that follows this idea and doesn’t incorporate their churches, so there are others getting the same idea. I believe the time has come for the American believers to look into these formally ‘out there’ ideas. Even Trueman has written well on this:, and

    • Agreed Randall, while the AV is the queen of the Reformation English Bible translations, KJOism is a joke worthy only of fundamentalist ignoramuses.

      I think Trueman is correct on incorporation, but sometimes Homer nods and boy, does he ever. In A Protestant Tribute to Archbishop Chaput, the money quote imo was that the Chaput told Trueman without any pushback,

      . . . that even though his generation was the best-catechized in the Catholic Church’s history, nobody had ever told him that he needed to trust in Christ for his salvation. There was no existential urgency or personal imperative attached to the dogmas he was taught. . . .

      Huh? Since when has Rome ever told anyone to trust in Christ (alone) for salvation, much more if it did, Trueman and the rest of us Protestants would have no business remaining separate from Rome.

      But even more ‘out there’ for the church, than the most “‘out there’ idea” of erastian incorporation, never mind homeschooling (home schooled Harvard Law grad lawyer AJ Harris eviscerates Bartholet’s lack of argument here) is that this whole “crisis” is an attack on the glory of God.

      The church of Jesus Christ has rolled over and indefinitely suspended the public worship of God on the basis of our civil authorities, who can’t stay in their own lane of the light of natural reason with the official numbers more and more contradicting the official narrative, never mind the media flamethrower routine. Rob McCurley, minister of Greenville Pres. Church is to the point in Corona: the Church’s Warning Lam. 3:39-42 .

      Stay well in corpore et anima

      • Bob,

        Thanks for this. Going to disagree respectfully. In the history of the church, congregations have suspended worship for the public good. It happened during the plague and it happened more recently during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.

        It’s not “rolling over.” It’s loving one’s neighbor.

        A month ago no one knew how bad this would or wouldn’t be. No one knew the denominator, i.e., how many people have actually had Covid-19. The magistrate has responsibility and interest in keeping citizens alive.

        Is it time to start gathering somehow? Perhaps, as learn more and become better equipped to protect ourselves and our seniors and more vulnerable population.

        Good people are going to disagree. We should not accuse those whom came to different conclusions of infidelity.

    • RSC,

      But this is not the second coming of the black plague or the Spanish flu.

      If we didn’t know that a month ago, we know it now.
      There is real data, not apocalyptic models and the denominator is known.

      But when the civil magistrate will not allow people to gather, even when obeying the magistrate’s rules, anti-social distancing and the rest; when people can assemble and shop for anything, including abortions, but they cannot gather to partake of the bread of life, the preaching of the Word of God and his worship, I think something besides love and safety is the real denominator.

      As McCurley mentioned, if this is really the crisis it is being promoted as, that the thing that is needed most is forbidden, speaks volumes about respective priorities. We certainly know it’s not high on the state’s list. Where is it for the church of Jesus Christ?

      Thank you.


    • [Duplicate comment in wrong comment box above, my apologies.]
      No RSC, I am not advocating civil disobedience per se.
      Are you?

      Though some might consider dissent to be disobedience, I would have no problem examining the parameters of constitutional authority, federal and state, in locking down the nation; not only businesses, but also churches, “emergency” or no. How long can the country go on like this when we did nothing of the sort for the 2017/18 flu season with 60k deaths?
      In Washington, as per the usual bureaucrat speak, there are grey areas on what is essential/non essential businesses/what can be open and rules that should be followed. The governor did lift the ban on construction yesterday, but amazingly enough civil/state construction was exempt from the very beginning of the CV lockup, including the Early Childhood Education center next door to my place. (As to whether that education includes reading stories like Chicken Little, The Boy Who Cried Wolf or The Emperor’s New Clothes to the children, no word yet.)

      The argument might be made that McCurley advocated civil disobedience, somewhere after the 29 minute mark in the third part of the sermon where he talks about meeting somewhere, even in the open air if the authorities won’t let them meet in their building.

      A further question I would have though – in light of the crisis that the Corona Virus is supposed to be – is what do we make of the Westminster Assembly’s Directory of Public Worship, where a day of solemn fasting and prayer is called for “when some great and notable judgments are either inflicted upon a people, or apparently imminent. . . . [as] a duty that God expecteth” – at least from the church – if we no longer think it applicable to a “nation or people”? I know the URCs have a rote/anniversary day of prayer and thanksgiving respectively every year, rain or shine, but it would seem like the current state of affairs would call for the real deal as it were. McCurley might think so, but I don’t think the American church is there yet. Your comments?

      Thank you.

      • Bob,

        If you’re not advocating civil disobedience what are we discussing? Either the visible church submits to the authorities, even if we think they may be mistaken, even if we don’t entirely trust their motives, or we disobey.

        Have I given you any reason to think that I’m advocating civil disobedience?

        As to a national day of prayer, I would favor a shared day of prayer among NAPARC churches, with whom we have formal ecclesiastical fellowship.

    • RSC,

      I take it we’re discussing:

      I. Whether the church is responding properly:

      1. If the Corona Virus really is the crisis it was being sold as originally.
      2. To the consequences of the crisis (or no), in the suspension of the public worship of God.

      II. That the visible church submits to the authorities in their lawful i.e. constitutional demands.

      III. Have I given you any reason to think I am advocating civil disobedience? I am certainly questioning the extent of the civil authority’s power and whether its own numbers and narrative as the basis for their decision actually match the situation on the ground i.e reality, but again is dissent disobedience?

      IV. I am glad to hear that you are in favor of a day of prayer among the NAPARC churches. I agree and think it long overdue, if not negligence on our part that we haven’t done so sooner
      in light of what was supposed to be a medical crisis (very interesting comments from two California ER doctors here ) and the spiritual and moral consequences of the crisis in the suspension of public worship.

      I know I certainly find it easier to acquiesce to the status quo; to just go with the flow and sit at home watching the live stream till whenever and then some.

      Thank you.

      • Bob,

        1. The church (mostly) is submitting to the instruction of the civil magistrate in the interests of public health. That submission is not predicated (biblically) upon whether we agree with the magistrate’s analysis of the epidemiological evidence. Nero was a venal, evil (even by pagan Roman standards) ruler, who was Caesar when Paul wrote Rom 13. He did everything wrong, including murdering Christians to cover up a real-estate scam gone bad.

        2. The church has two choices, to submit or to disobey. A third option is to petition the government for relief while she submits. Biblically, our submission isn’t predicated on the order being constitutional. As citizens of a twofold divine government of all things, Christians as citizens and the church as an institution may seek redress.

        3. I don’t doubt our right as citizens of the civil realm to dissent. What form do you think this should take?

        4. I don’t think that you should think that we’re happy with the status quo.

    • RSC

      1. If the Corona virus is the apocalyptic crisis in public health that the civil magistrate said it was, that should have been enough in itself for the church to humble itself, much more the suspension of the public worship of God due to that crisis. That didn’t happen.

      Even further, as arguably the rationale for this crisis begins to unravel (some would say it was rather specious to begin with, but whatever), the economic and political consequences of it – whether intentional or no – might also seem to call for the same from the church.

      2. Hypothetically, does the church submit to an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the lawful civil magistrate. For instance, does the building inspector have the right to hand out speeding tickets?

      3. In this case I hear there are going to be lawsuits regarding the shutdowns. Some of the other avenues might be a little more irregular or ad hoc, like this.

      4. I don’t think anybody is a happy camper about this mess, but I also think McCurley is correct. That if the church, like everybody else would just like to get back to normal without examining why and how we got here in church and state, then next time God’s whisper will be louder.

       If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? Jer. 12:5

      Thank you.

      • Bob,

        1. The magistrate may be wrong. As I understand Romans 13 (and as the Reformed have historically understood it), they get to do that.

        2. The Covid-19 crisis was really bad in Milan and Wuhan and elsewhere. It wasn’t unreasonable to think that, absent radical action, that could happen here. That it did not is a mercy for which we should be thankful. Doubtless there will be recriminations after the fact.

        3. I am personally in favor or opening up society more quickly lest the effect of the shut down be worse than the cure but as a matter of principle, what we’re discussing here is how the visible church ought to respond to the instruction of the magistrate.

        4. If a building inspector transgresses the boundaries of his office, he would be subject to criminal prosecution (impersonating a law enforcement officer). I don’t see the point. The magistrate is listening to public health officers. Are the PHOs getting it right? Are magistrates taking advantage of the crisis for political gain? These are fair questions.

        5. The church has a right to seek redress and to petition the civil magistrate. That process is under way in some places.

    • RSC

      I think we are talking past each other.

      1. Rom. 13 is immaterial. Whether the magistrate is right or wrong is immaterial. The ecclesiastical response – at least historically – to an apocalyptic medical crisis, which is exactly what this was sold as, is not just Zoom meetings. Or waiting for the rote/autopilot day of prayer to come up on the ecclesiastical calendar.

      3. No, ultimately the discussion is how the visible church is to respond to the instruction and chastisement in providence from our heavenly magistrate.

      4. Again, is the church obligated by Scripture to obey the unlawful exercise of authority by a civil authority? But at least we agree that whether the PHOs are getting it right or the magistrates are taking advantage of the situation are fair questions.

      5. Even more the church has a duty to publicly seek redress and petition our heavenly magistrate in regard to a plague; that the church cannot gather corporately due to that plague, ought to be even a more serious and humbling state of affairs. McCurley’s prayer meeting address of Mar. 16 is the only thing that I am aware of, that touches on the question.
      But maybe I need to get out more.

      Thank you,

      • Bob,

        Is there anything else you want the visible church to do beside petition the magistrate for relief?

        You seem dissatisfied but about what I’m not entirely sure.

  7. Speaking of the issue that Randall has raised, some congregations are experiencing a considerable shortfall in offerings as a result of the COVID isolation and job losses. As a result some of the mega-like congregations with large staffs are announcing to their congregations that they will be applying for the small business loans that the gov’t is making available. They are providing Q&A documentation where the state supposedly ensures that they will be granted such loans without any strings attached. I don’t believe that for a second – it’s a future trap.

    • I have been afraid to ask our Session if they are applying for these loans. I am afraid because I don’t know what to do if they say ‘yes’. I guess historically our puritan forefathers were on the government dole as state ministers, until they were pushed too far. There is probably a real aspect of ecclesiology to be explored here with respects to reformed churches, tax exemption, speech restrictions, etc. I hate to say it, but the independent Baptists may be right on this one.

  8. Bartholet’s research is so biased it is infuriating. It’s so bad that she shouldn’t be given the time of day–except that her faux research in elitist clothing has such a disastrous impact on America. The mooing herd sees that she is a Harvard professor–and they are thus enamored and choose gullibility as a result.

    Your comment, “The Deweyite revolution effectively destroyed education by the 1970s and it has only become worse since then.” is so very true. Reading the first Humanist Manifesto-of which Dewey had significant input–is chilling. It seems to have permeated our society without anyone back then raising a peep. The second Manifesto is even worse and more overt.

    My wife (who has a Ph.D.) teaches at a university. She can always spot the student who received their education at home; their intellectual and social maturity is head and shoulders above the rest.

    I know there are home schooling cases where the parents were pretty undisciplined, etc. These, of course, are lamentable. But overwhelmingly, it’s the home school children who are knocking the “educational” ball out of the park…and the “social skills” ball to-boot.

  9. Favorite Quote from R. Scott Clark: “[In the public school], I learned to fight.”


  10. Scott,

    Where does the opening of churches fit into the governor’s 4-stage plan? If it’s in stage 3, then it’s months away. If it’s in stage 4, it could be years or never because it depends on vaccines or effective drugs. They’ve been working on a coronavirus vaccine for 10 years according to Dr. Hotez. Dr. Bhattacharya of Stanford said that vaccines are technically challenging.

    • Walt,

      I think Oxford is making good progress on a vaccine but it will take time to test properly.

      I don’t know where the opening of churches is in the plan. Do you? Is it stipulated anywhere?

    • Scott,

      I don’t see it anywhere in the plan.

      The therapeutics under test are hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir. The results for remdesivir are here. Results of hydroxychloroquine trials are not in.

      Here are the potential vaccines 1, 2, and 3. If I had to put money on one, it would be the German one. You have to take any news about science with a huge grain of salt. Scientific American is a particularly wrong periodical. I finally had to give up reading it.

      Any way you cut it, you’re going to be waiting months for any hope of getting to stage 4 under the governor’s plan. The question is, which stage are the churches in?

      The latest news says that they’re trying to get kids back into school in July, though this seems to be headed for nullification by the teacher’s union. They want to open up daycares even sooner. These are interesting signals of their priorities, because kids spread germs like crazy.

    • From the link above, in-person religious services are stage 3, which Governor Newsom says is “months, not weeks away.”

  11. This pose by Barthelet is strange. Surely she is aware of the strong stereotype that homeschooled kids are super-achievers. What this article seems to be aiming at is some phantom group of homeschool parents who are busy sexually abusing their children instead of educating them.

    Maybe it reveals a libertarian streak in me, but it seems to me the burden should be on the state to justify compulsory education by the state, rather than the other way around.


    In 2014, SAT “test scores of college-bound homeschool students were higher than the national average of all college-bound seniors that same year,” according to NHERI.

    “Mean ACT Composite scores for homeschooled students were consistently higher than those for public school students” from 2001 through 2014, according (PDF) to that testing organization, although private school students scored higher still.

    By contrast public school kids “bombed the SAT” reports Bloomberg. Mixed, but generally disappointing results since then have education experts worry that many public school graduates are unprepared for either higher education or the workforce.

    No wonder colleges not only welcome, but actively recruit, homeschooled applicants.


    “Students with greater exposure to homeschooling tend to be more politically tolerant—a finding contrary to the claims of many political theorists,” reports research published in the Journal of School Choice. Defined as “the willingness to extend civil liberties to people who hold views with which one disagrees,” this finding of greater political tolerance among the homeschooled has important ramifications in this factionalized and illiberal era.

  13. Bartholet says. “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”
    How ironic! Home school advocates and supporters feel exactly the same way . . . about government officials.

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