MSNBC column on ‘insidious’ homeschooling reads like a conspiracy theory

An associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania for the Department of Religious Studies took a break from her broader attacks against evangelicals as racists to deliver a screed on their “extreme beliefs” and claimed the push for homeschool education is a covert attempt at segregation and, ultimately, aimed at “dismantling the public education system.”

Dr. Anthea Butler, author of “White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America,” recently wrote an op-ed for MSNBC titled “How the conservative Christian right is hijacking homeschooling” in which she took particular aim at actor Kirk Cameron. In her piece, she references his upcoming documentary “The Homeschool Awakening” and called it “another salvo in the ongoing evangelical war against public schools.”

Butler writes, “‘Public education has become public enemy No. 1,’ the actor Kirk Cameron opines in a promotion for ‘The Homeschool Awakening,’ his documentary scheduled to hit theaters in June,” before noting his expressed views that the pandemic offered a unique lens for parents into the curriculum of government-run schools that further justifies homeschooling.

“However, as Cameron’s quote indicates, this latest project of conservative evangelical education is another salvo in the ongoing evangelical war against public schools,” Butler claimed. “It should come as no surprise that evangelicals, fundamentalists and other religious conservatives have fought against public education since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education.”

“The prospect of integrated schools led to the creation of many ‘segregation academies,’ private schools designed to keep African American children and undesirable immigrant groups away from white children,” she went on. “But there was another, more insidious way to circumvent integration: homeschooling.”

Butler ignores Cameron’s position that “we’ve been made grossly aware of the inaccurate and the immoral things that the public school system has been teaching our children and our grandchildren” and his acknowledgment that, “Whoever’s shaping the hearts and minds and souls of our children will determine whether or not we live in a free country,” to pounce on a Critical Race Theory inspired supposition of inherent racism.

With the banner on her website promoting the secular ideology that “People have to be made to understand that they cannot look for salvation anywhere but to themselves,” from activist Ella Baker, Butler goes on to draft a revisionist history of the education system dismissing any form of tutelage that took place prior to the 1960s.

“One of the main purveyors of homeschooling was a fundamentalist, Rousas Rushdoony, whose work beginning in the 1960s in establishing Christian day schools grew into the homeschooling movement…to prepare them to take their place in a theocratic government,” she argued before claiming, “Cameron’s documentary promoting homeschooling is not an aberration; it is part of a larger project about dismantling the public education system in the United States.”

Butler later presented her support of CRT and her opposition to anything that would hinder the U.S. Department of Education as she railed against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, referring to it with the leftist moniker of “Don’t Say Gay.” Her opposition to homeschooling and insistence that government education promotes her ideologies reveal her to be the only fundamentalist here as Cameron and supporters of homeschooling do not actively seek means to promote their beliefs on others as Butler aims to do.

She concludes that the actor, “says that people choosing homeschooling are having an awakening, but the public needs to awaken to the reality that public schools may disappear if people with his extreme beliefs have their way.”


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