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Since its inception in 1992, the Association for Homeschooling has promoted the recognition of the right of parents to educate their children within the family in South Africa, as it is recognised in art. 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right which states: “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Since 2010, the Association also promotes these parental rights in the larger Southern Africa region.

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Public schools and shrinking churches

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There is a tendency in many churches for young people to abandon the church altogether. It is said that they “graduate out of church”. A variety of reasons are proposed, but the influence of public schooling is seldom noticed.

When the National Curriculum was introduced in 2002, one of the greatest objections was the promotion of the religion of Interfaith, especially in the subject “Life Orientation”. According to the religion of Interfaith, all religions in the world are products of the human imagination, and there is no such thing as true or false religion: all religions are equal. Sarel van der Merwe has produced a video about this titled: “Intergeloof in die Onderwys”. A sample of this video can be viewed on Youtube.

In the budget speech of 2011 the minister confirmed the connection between the Department of Basic Education and the Interfaith movement when she said: “It is behind this background that we launched the Bill of Responsibilities in partnership with Lead South Africa and the South African Inter-Faith Council.” In the 2012 budget speech she again confirmed her commitment to the religion of Interfaith by saying: “A vital component of our strategy is working with partners in the private sector, higher education, NGOs, traditional leadership, interfaith organizations and broader society.” On 30 October 2012 President Zuma was the keynote speaker at the 4th Inter Faith Action For Peace in Africa in Cape Town. This conference was sponsored by Parliament to the value of R2.1 million.

Given that public schooling promotes Interfaith, and the overwhelming majority of young people receive a public school education, it is hardly surprising that they are leaving the church. These young people have for 12 years, 30 - 40 hours per week, received an education according to a curriculum that promotes the religion of Interfaith, under the administration of a minister committed to Interfaith. A church service of less than an hour and 30 minutes of catechism in the Christian faith is no match against this.

Further to this, traditional families are often referred to as the building blocks of the church. If the family crumbles, so does the church. A recent book titled: “How the West Really Lost God” describes this close connection between church and family. The public school curriculum however casts suspicion on the traditional family, and presents alternative lifestyle relationships as normal. By casting suspicion on the traditional family, public schools are contributing to the deterioration of the church.

Churches that would like to survive should therefore advocate an educational model that allows them to pass their faith to the following generation while strengthening the church. Home-education fulfills both of these criteria.

In 2012 Judge Cynthia Pretorius commented in the Pretoria High Court that the state curriculum is not binding on parents who educate their children at home. Home-education therefore allows parents to pass their own convictions onto their children, without the children receiving undue influence from state religion.

Research indicates that home-education is an educational model that actually contributes to the strengthening of the family.

Many churches understand this and have started promoting home-education. In 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention decided to call on parents to withdraw their children from public schools, and choose Christian private schools or home-education. In 2011 a movie was released titled: “Indoctrination: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America”. This movie portrays the influence of public schooling on the Christian faith. Many churches are holding public screenings of this movie. In May 2012, a representative of the Vatican to the United Nations, issued a declaration that the state should recognise the rights of parents to choose the type of education their children receive, and provide protection for them against ideological indoctrination by the state.

Yet, in South Africa many church members retain the opinion that Christians should send their children to public schools “to be a witness”. Rev. Slabbert le Cornu, Reformed Minister, answers this argument however as follows: “Let us consider Matt 10:16-17: ‘Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.’ If we would like to apply this verse to this subject, it is important to consider who Jesus addressed these words to. We find the answer in Matt 10:1-5 ‘And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease… ...These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying...’ Following on from this, as one of the instructions, we find verses 16-17 as mentioned above. Jesus sends mature, toughened, well-equipped, believing men with an important calling and task to execute, and knowing the persecution that awaits them, that they should apply themselves to this task with wisdom. These verses cannot be used as a basis for sending our children to Moloch state schools with the expectation that they should shine there as ‘dim lights’. I concede that some state schools are better than others, and that there are still principals and staff who would like to retain a Christian ethos, but in general and concerning the future, state schools are becoming less Christian and are not a sound choice for a truly Reformed upbringing.

Churches concerned about the departure of young people, should therefore consider home-education as it protects children against the religion of Interfaith as propagated by public schooling, and contributes towards the strengthening of the church by strengthening the family.

Translated by Shaun Green 30 October 2013

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Comments

  • John Brandow Friday, 25 April 2014

    Very interesting article and probably everything is true that is said there. BUT and there is always a BUT - These types of articles tend to focus on the problem and does not come up with solutions. I recently read an article named "Disrupting Hell" where amongst others the author said that the church need to start from scratch and rethink their way of doing. I had a chat about content with some pastors. The answer ? The church knows what it is doing...........The problem is they do not know how to go about getting the MESSAGE across anymore and they do not want to face reality. It is time that we look for real SOLUTIONS and stop yapping about the problem ! The solution to then problem mentioned in your article is of course Homeschooling and Christian private schools and it is time that we come up with ways to get this message out there !

  • Johan van Schalkwyk Friday, 25 April 2014

    Ek stem heeltemal daarmee saam dat kinders nie hulle flou lampies in die hoof-stroom skole kan laat skyn nie. Inteendeel ek glo daar is bitter min volwasse Christene wat dit kan doen. Die probleem is dat daar sogenaamde "Privaat Christen-skole" is wat meer daarop toegespits is om geld te maak, dat hulle nie-Christene (Filistyne) tot die skole toelaat. Kinders is dan geneig om na hierdie Filistyne te kyk, en baie volg hulle dan na. In alle geval, wat ek van een so 'n Privaat Christen-skool in Port Elizabeth verneem het, is dat hulle verplig word om die Nasionale Curriculum te volg. Weet nie of dit wel die geval is nie, maar daarom word my kinders tuis onderrig. Mens moet ook onthou dat die opvoeding van jou kind by die huis begin, dit sluit in hulle maniere en hulle Christenskap. Tuis-onderrig bly die beste opsie!

  • Sue Searles Thursday, 08 May 2014

    In response to the article Public Schools and Shrinking Churches (translated by Shaun Green, 30 October 2013), I’d like to share some thoughts not only as a pastor, but also as a homeschool family homeschooling on the ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) Programme, currently in our tenth year.

    I believe that the author stated the problem in which many churches find themselves, although this is not applicable to all churches. There are many churches growing fast and attracting youngsters from different age groups and cultures. These churches do not necessarily promote home-education and grow as a result thereof. I would therefore not consider education and churches interlinked with one another for either growing or shrinking. On the other hand, homeschool families don't necessarily attend church, therefore this also do not support the argument of home-education having an effect on church growth.

    With the above said, I believe that we are dealing with three different subjects, namely, the church, education and family life; and further how each is affected by an Interfaith Worldview. Society is not bound by any specific religion, therefore the global society can be reasoned as being an Interfaith society with communities grouping together within the framework of specific cultural-, religious- and social groups, forming their own mini community of similar beliefs and values.

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