I founded the Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983. If, at that time, you asked all 50 state Attorneys General whether it was legal to homeschool in their state, all 50 would have said “No.”
We disagreed because we believed that the Constitution of the United States protected both religious freedom and parental rights as fundamental rights.
At first, very few courts agreed with us.
But homeschoolers did four key things:
- They taught their children well so that the substance of their children’s education was never a real problem no matter what the education officials claimed.
- They kept homeschooling even when the courts said it was illegal.
- They organized.
- They depended on God and they prayed for freedom to obey His call to teach their own children.
One state serves as a salient example.
North Dakota was one of the last three states to effectively ban homeschooling by requiring each teaching parent to be a certified teacher. I argued so many cases in the Supreme Court of North Dakota, that I was tempted to call the judges by their first names rather than “your honor.”
We won a couple of technical victories but lost every single constitutional case even though we were right and were far better prepared than the government lawyers.
But not one single North Dakota family that we defended was ever forced to stop homeschooling. They would fine them. They paid the fine and kept on homeschooling.
Eventually, the state was so embarrassed by their obvious repression that was unwarranted by any claim of needing to ensure that children were getting a good education, that the legislature relented and passed a decent homeschooling law.
It was a multi year struggle. It was never easy. But we were right and we persisted and we depended on God.
Churches are now being treated unequally and in other ways that violate the First Amendment. By 5-4 votes, the Supreme Court has refused to grant constitutional protection to churches.
This is not a court order to stop meeting. This is a refusal to stop the state from threatening churches.
Churches and pastors need to learn the lesson of homeschoolers.
- Conduct your services in ways that are safe whether or not your Governor agrees with the details.
- If you believe God is leading you to meet as believers in person, I am not one to tell you to violate what God commands you.
- Get organized. ADF has a church program that is based on HSLDA’s services for homeschoolers.
- Depend on God and pray.
Officials know that they are in the wrong—especially after the exposure of the disparity in Nevada.
Homeschoolers with courage were blessed with freedom over time.
Courage is needed again today.