Public Schools, Homeschooling, and IndoctriNation

Guess which movie won this year’s San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, put on by Christian Patriarchy leader Vision Forum? Here, I’ll give you the trailer:

Yep, that’s the one! IndoctriNation!

IndoctriNation explores the origins and social impact of America’s public school system and has sparked debate among Christians and atheists over the roles of faith, and government in education. “People are starting to wake up to the damaging effects of a government-controlled education monopoly,” says IndoctriNation co-director, Colin Gunn. He continues, “We now are facing all these problems in America — high taxation, welfare dependency, government debt — and as Christians and conservatives we have to see we can’t solve those problems until we solve the public schooling problem.” 

At the Film Festival, Doug Phillips (President of Vision Forum) stated, “This [film] is the tool for which we have been waiting for the last 20 years.”

E. Ray Moore said, “We hope that this movie will help move several million more Christian children into K-12 Christian education and home schooling. Many Christian leaders and pastors are finally giving up on conservative public school reform.”

I hope I’m not the only one who senses the irony in the film’s title.

There are today lots of different people who homeschool their children for lots of different reasons. Unfortunately, however, a large proportion of homeschool parents homeschool their children for the reasons discussed in the above excerpt and in the film. My parents were among them. There is a belief that public schools are indoctrinating children into secular humanism or even atheism, and that the only solution is to remove their children from the public education system.

I grew up with a very stilted idea of what public schools were, because I literally believed the things stated in the film. When I went to college and met evangelical college students, especially through Campus Crusade for Christ, who had made it through the pagan public schools with their faith intact, I was taken aback. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t square with what I’d been taught growing up.

Nevertheless, organizations like The Exodus Mandate, which was one of the sponsors of IndoctriNation, speak of public schools as . . . no, I’m going to let them speak for themselves:

Exodus Mandate is a Christian ministry to encourage and assist Christian families to leave Pharaoh’s school system (i.e. government schools) for the Promised Land of Christian schools or home schooling. It is our prayer and hope that a fresh obedience by Christian families in educating their children according to Biblical mandates will prove to be a key for the revival of our families, our churches and our nation.

There is a strange mixture of fear involved in all this. There’s this idea that if children are exposed to outside ideas or influences they will be subverted, and that the only way to raise proper children is to remove them from all outside influences and ideas in what can amount to isolation and indoctrination. The thing is, if people are secure in their own beliefs then other ideas or people shouldn’t pose such a dire threat. To argue that the only way you can pass your views on is through isolation and indoctrination is conceding defeat. This thinking is also very much conspiracy theory thinking.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are susceptible to the ideas in this film. From the outside looking in a film like IndoctriNation may seem like a good laugh, but it’s taken very seriously by many and as such has destructive potential.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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