I bet you never thought you’d see me writing that, did you? Ham has always insisted on a rigidly applied set of doctrines that may not be questioned — any doubt about any one Christian claim will lead to the whole house of cards collapsing. The Washington Post demonstrates the validity of that argument with this article, The Revolt of Christian Homeschoolers.
It’s about a couple in Virginia, Christina and Aaron Beall, who were brought up in an ultraconservative faith, with all the usual restrictions: women will submit to the man, public schools were evil, contraception was bad (she got pregnant within weeks of getting married.)
Aaron had grown up believing Christians could out-populate atheists and Muslims by scorning birth control; Christina had been taught the Bible-based arithmetic necessary to calculate the age of a universe less than 8,000 years old. Their education was one in which dinosaurs were herded aboard Noah’s ark — and in which the penalty for doubt or disobedience was swift. Sometimes they still flinched when they remembered their parents’ literal adherence to the words of the Old Testament: “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.”
What broke their faith was that last bit: the rod. They could not beat their children. And if whupping their kids with a stick was wrong, what else could be wrong about their faith? So they enrolled their daughter in <gasp> public school. She thrived and was happy. And they discovered that their religion had lied to them about schooling.
“People who think the public schools are indoctrinating don’t know what indoctrination is. We were indoctrinated,” Aaron says. “It’s not even comparable.”
They kept on learning.
Her loss of faith in the biblical literalism and patriarchal values of her childhood was coming in the way the movement’s adherents had always warned it would: through exposure to people with different experiences and points of view.
Those people just happened to be her daughter and her husband.
The article says they didn’t question Christianity, so they didn’t become godless atheists or anything horrible like that, but they did become significantly more open-minded and are now reading more than the Bible and awful books like Bill Gothard’s or Michael and Debi Pearl’s. Now look at what they’re reading.
Stacks of books on the living room’s end tables testified to their belated efforts at self-education: popular works by the biologists Neil Shubin and Robert Sapolsky, as well as “Raising Critical Thinkers” by Julie Bogart, a leading developer of home education materials who has criticized conservative Christian home-schooling groups.
Poor Ken Ham. He was right that any lapse in dedication to his interpretation of Christianity would lead to apostasy, but he’s probably sitting in a dark corner, hissing and gnashing his teeth and flicking his forked tail if he hears about the Bealls. One family has escaped his grasp!