I was only (mostly) kidding when I mentioned Christmas at the end of my last post. I do find it mildly irritating that some people are afraid to say the word Christmas, but I've found that the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays debate plays out mostly online and in the media and not in real life.
I wish I could say the same for the division between Christian and secular homeschoolers.
My husband and I have always had non Christian friends. In fact, his best friend of 15 is years not a Christian. So when I was invited to an "inclusive" homeschool group meeting as a new homeschooler, I did not think twice about attending - especially when I found out they had a weekly ladies night out for dinner without the kids.
After attending several group meetings and events, I found that conversations often veered in the direction of ridiculing creationism, scripture, prayer and curricula that incorporate Bible verses and promote Christian beliefs. I heard a great deal of talk about Christian groups and their "scary" requirements, such as statements of faith. I heard comments that would not have been tolerated were they about Buddhists or Wiccans or any other religious group.
The ladies in the group were smart, kind and funny. But as a Christian, I was also in the group for support and encouragement, and I grew weary of hearing my faith ridiculed week after week. In my opinion, in a group that is truly inclusive, Christian beliefs would receive the same respect as any other belief.
The homeschool group that I'm now a part of is full of smart, kind and funny women who are also mostly Christian. In order to join, I was required to sign a statement saying I understood the group's beliefs and standards for behavior. Though we pray at meetings and openly discuss Christianity, I do not recall ever hearing other religions mocked or ridiculed.
Which group sounds more inclusive?
Please know that I am not basing my statements here on my experience with one group. I've seen Christian homeschoolers mocked and ridiculed just as frequently in the many discussion groups I've participated in online.
I know that some in the secular homeschool community have been hurt by Christians, and as a result, feel defensive. I think it's important to remember that Christians are imperfect people who make mistakes and hurt people. I have been hurt by Christians. As a Christian, I have hurt others.
I can also imagine that some secular homeschoolers find it difficult to be minorities among minorities, without access to a wide variety of support groups, legal organizations and curriculum providers. However, I feel the venom toward Christian organizations and companies is misplaced.
Yes, a Christian curriculum may contain Bible verses and *gasp* even teach creationism. Yes, a Christian support group may ask members to affirm their understanding of the group's practices and beliefs. Christian curriculum providers, home school groups and legal organizations do not exist to condemn, nor persecute secular homeschoolers - they exist to meet the needs of Christians. As secular homeschoolers grow in number, more resources will arise to meet their needs.
My advice to judgmental secular homeschoolers - forgive the Christians who have hurt you, and extend Christians the same respect you extend members of other faiths. Remember that Christian homeschoolers once had little access to support groups and quality curricula, but they formed companies and organizations to meet those needs, and you can do the same.
I honestly find it ridiculous that there is so much division between two groups who have so many common interests and goals.
Can't we all just get along?